Essex Community Foundation
“We are delighted to have been able to provide funding for such an excellent community project in Rayleigh. It is a great example of people working together to save and provide a much needed resource and facilities for local people.”
Caroline Taylor, Deputy Chief Executive

Centre is a “haven” for local people

In Rayleigh The Todman Centre, a much-valued resource for older people, was saved from the threat of closure in 2013 as a result of a concerted community effort.

It is now taking on a new lease of life and ECF recently awarded a grant of £6,000 to help with renovation work at the centre.

The Todman Centre, given as a gift to the community in the 1960s, had from the outset been providing a place for elderly people to come and have lunch. It was originally run under the charity name of Rayleigh Urban District Old People’s Welfare Association.

A drop in the number of people attending and funding cuts led to financial difficulties and the centre almost closed in 2013. A group of volunteers from local churches and the trustees of the centre met to try to find a way to keep the centre open with the help of RRAVS (Rayleigh and Rochford Association of Voluntary Services). RRAVS administered the centre until October 2103, when the new committee took over.

Under the new management committee, the charity updated its name to Rayleigh Age Concern. Fully run by 23 dedicated volunteers, the centre has not only started to thrive again, providing the much appreciated lunches for older people, but other organisations are using the resources the centre has to offer. Vital renovation work has now started at the centre and the grant from ECF will help with the cost of electrical rewiring.

Bryan Chapman, volunteer manager at the Todman Centre said: “The centre couldn’t run without the dedication of our volunteers and the support we have had from the community.

“The benefits for the elderly people who come here are plain to see. It gives them a new lease of life, giving them a chance to mix with others, stay connected with people and have a hot meal.

“Some of them would not see anyone at all during the week if they didn’t come here. The fact that transport is provided for them is so important. The centre is definitely meeting a need in the community and the grant from ECF has given us a sound base for the renovation work we need to carry out.”

People who attend the lunch club at the Todman Centre have nothing but praise for it and their appreciation is summed up by 81-year-old Emily H. from Rayleigh who said: “Coming to the lunch club has made a big impact on my life. It gets me out of the house and it’s nice to meet different people. It gives me something to look forward to. The meals are lovely and affordable and always tasty. The staff are very friendly and helpful.”

Her feelings are echoed by 90-year-old Dennis B. from Hullbridge who said: “The centre is a haven for elderly people, it gives you the chance to have a cup of tea and a chat and an excellent cooked dinner. May the centre continue doing this good work.