Councillor Jo Blackman explains why Wanstead’s Woodbine Day Centre is so important, and encourages anyone interested in volunteering at this adult social care venue to pop in.
Bins and roads – that’s often what springs to mind when people think about how their council tax is spent. However, the biggest proportion of the council’s budget actually goes on children’s services and social care. In 2019/2020, the council will spend more on adult social care than roads and the environment combined.
With an ageing population, the demand for adult social care continues to increase, and this is sadly not being met by central government funding, with cuts of £166m to the council’s overall budget since 2010 and continued uncertainty about future funding. Faced with these pressures, the council was forced to implement the social care charge levy introduced by the government to support and protect vulnerable residents.
Adult social care work often goes unseen by residents unless they or their family or friends find themselves needing support. In Wanstead Village, we are lucky to have a vibrant adult social care day centre. At the front line, Woodbine Centre staff have had to adapt to the continued pressures from a squeeze on budgets. This has seen them take in more adults with more complex needs and disabilities from across the borough, whilst also exploring ways to generate revenue.
I visited the centre recently with the council’s People Scrutiny Committee. We were all moved by stories of how adults we met had been supported through difficult times, including through activities and, most importantly, friendship. It was humbling to meet the staff who run the centre with such commitment and enthusiasm.
The centre has an impressive range of facilities, including an IT suite, kitchens, music area and outdoor space too. They have good links with the local community, with a number of shops and cafes hosting users of the centre to develop their skills and experience. They have a varied programme of activities, including musical memories for those with dementia, gardening, drama and art, and they always welcome visitors. Woodbine Centre has exciting plans for the future, including a Christmas market on 30 November and, potentially, the addition of a garden centre.
The on-site Cherry Tree Cafe is open from 12 noon to 2pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and provides opportunities for students with special educational needs to gain experience in catering, building their knowledge through practical experience in a functioning cafe.
If you know of someone who could benefit from the services at Woodbine Centre, please get in touch. They also welcome volunteering offers and encourage people to pop in to speak to them.