Seniors club locked out

2016-04-26 06:00
A group of elderly residents sit outside the Shares Community centre after they were denied access for their monthly gatherings since October last year.  PHOTOS: Chevon Booysen

A group of elderly residents sit outside the Shares Community centre after they were denied access for their monthly gatherings since October last year. PHOTOS: Chevon Booysen

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A group of disgruntled pensioners gathered outside the Shares Community Centre in Lotus River on Wednesday morning, staging a peaceful protest.

The group of residents from Lotus River gathered for a common cause – to be given access to the hall they have been restricted access to.

The Greet, Eat and Meet Seniors (Gems) group say they just want to be allowed back in the hall again for their monthly gatherings.

A founder member of the organisation, Shireen Isaacs, says they have been struggling to get access to the hall since October last year.

“The hall has been undergoing renovations since last year October. Since then we have not had the opportunity or privilege to use the hall,” she says.

Gems is a group of seniors who have been meeting monthly for about a decade since its establishment during 2006, Isaacs explains.

“We feed a group of about 50 elderly residents every last Wednesday of the month. But for the past few months this has not been possible,” she says.

Isaacs says they have contacted the ward councillor Melanie Arendse to find out what brought their “lock out” about but to date they are yet to receive a satisfactory answer.

“I have contacted her on a few occasions asking her to assist with the matter but until today, nothing has been done. Nobody even informed us of the renovations that will take place at the centre and now we are basically locked out with nowhere else to go,” Isaacs says.

After contacting Arendse and explaining their need for a venue to host the elderly on the days when they get food, Isaacs says she was told Arendse would arrange containers.

“She couldn’t even give a conclusive answer on when this would be erected. In the meantime, our Gems sit without a venue. We have been denied access to the venue. The security gaurds that are on duty say they received orders from their superiors that nobody is allowed on the premises,” Isaacs says.

However, the pensioners say they do not want the containers.

Placards held up during the protest read: “We want our hall”, “We want the hall, not a container”, Where do we Gems go now?”.

Isaacs says they were given information that the centre belongs to somebody in the community but no names were given and prior consultation regarding the signing over the hall was not communicated to them.

Local ward councillor Melanie Arendse confirms the Shares Centre is currently “under construction”.

“Due to this, no person can enter, This group does know this but it’s very difficult for them to accept. Social development took over this building because it was in a very bad state,” she says.

She also confirms that a tender was out for the building and is currently being renovated for an Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD).

“An ECD has taken the building. It is now up to the ECD to sign an agreement with Gems club if they want to host them. In the meantime Social Development is looking at the space to erect containers to host the Gems club,” she says.

Arendse says due to the renovations at the centre and electrical work being conducted, they cannot risk having anybody at the centre.

“If anything happens, the City will be responsible for it,” Arendse says.

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