A new project in Hackney called “Take Care of the Pennies” has been set up to tackle the crisis of one in five elderly residents in the borough living below the poverty line.
“Take Care of the Pennies” and local community organisations are pledged to help end the plight of senior citizens struggling to make ends meet in near subsistence living.
Armed with a grant of £250,000 from the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales, sixteen grass-root charities including Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation, Hackney CVS and Hackney Chinese Community Services have started this project to encourage the empowerment and independence of older people in the borough.
East London Lines spoke to Victor McAllister, 60, chairperson for Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation on how the lives of Hackney’s older population are affected by poverty and how this new project plans to help. He said many elderly residents in Hackney have so limited means that they sometimes have to chose between eating or heating up their flats.
One part of the “Take Care of the Pennies” project that Victor McAllister believes will particularly benefit the elderly residents across the borough is cooperative and coordinated effort from the many different local organisations in Hackney.
McAllister says that community organisations have a tendency to keep to their own groups these days, whereas people were better at working together in building up the country after the world wars in the 30’s and 40’s.
In the Take Care of the Pennies project, the people involved come from many different backgrounds, which means they can draw on many different skills and collectively make a difference.
Victor McAllister says that one of the more effective strategies of the Take Care of the Pennies project – as opposed to projects run by the government – is the way in which they approach the local residents. The different community organisations are going to actively seek out the residents in need and meet them in their home environments, so the support programme can be adjusted to their particular needs.
“We’re actually going to them and saying ‘How would you like us to help you?’. They’re pleased to see that we’re stepping into their worlds to see what life is like for them” says Victor and he adds that the knowledge acquired by the residents during the project will continue even after the funding stops in three years.
Chris Anderson, Head of Grant Making for the South at the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales said the project supports older disadvantaged people at a time when much other funding is being cut.
He added that “it will enable Hackney CVS to deliver vital work to help reduce isolation, financial hardship and poor mental and physical health of older people living in this London borough.”
Take Care of the Pennies will officially launch this week at Ridley Road Market, where representatives will distribute information about how the project can help the elderly residents of Hackney.