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Community centres shouldn’t be businesses, they’re lifelines

17 September, 2020

Kingsgate Community Centre

THE sudden collapse of the Kingsgate Community Centre will have a devastating impact on the lives of so many people in NW6.

The centre has for more than 100 years been at the heart of the community, hosting events for the very young to very old.

Many of its regulars will have some sort of vulnerability; whether it be through age, unemployment, housing, addiction, mental health, isolation or language.

The friendships forged over a cup or tea in the café, a dance class or game of chess, will have felt more like family for many.

Imagine losing all your family in one fell swoop. How would you feel?

By some accounts, the centre’s management association had been on the ropes in the months before the Covid lockdown landed a knockout punch.

Without its main source of income, a children’s nursery, it stood no chance of getting back up off the mat. “The impact of the loss of this revenue during lockdown has been critical,” its directors said this week.

Why do so many centres like these rely on commercial ventures, dependent on the market to survive?

All are forced to hire out rooms or sports pitches to corporate clients when they should be reserved solely for the community. All because of the shortfall in funding from central and local government.

Many others in Camden will be watching nervously at Kingsgate’s demise wondering if they are next.

For older people, community services are, quite simply, an indispensable lifeline. Buses, public toilets, pavements, benches, libraries, leisure facilities, and centres like Kingsgate are the services most prized by older people, and the poor.

They are essential for health, independence and maintaining the wider fabric of society. These are not luxuries, and should be seen as essential community assets, rather than costs.

The council must act urgently to ensure its building and all its services reopen as quickly as possible.

Failing tests

THE testing shambles is undermining so much hard work and energy put in by schools in the rush to reopen after lockdown.

Headteachers are rightly angry at the failures that have already meant Camden pupils missing a week of schools while waiting for a simple swab.

Children routinely develop coughs when they come back to school in September.

If the government is saying everyone who has a cough needs to be tested, then schools obviously require many more than the ten tests they have been issued with.

Attendances are already notably down and bubble classes are already being closed. Society, as it is currently set-up, seems incapable of functioning with all these rules.

A wartime government is needed as we head towards another full lockdown.

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