CAMPAIGNING pensioners who lost their battle to save a popular South Tyneside day centre still have their heads held high after moving to a new home.
About 100 people were forced to quit Queens Road Day Centre in Saxon Way, Jarrow, when it closed its doors this week after 30 years.
Despite pensioners collecting more than 7,000 names on a petition, lobbying meetings and fighting a long campaign against closure, cash-strapped South Tyneside Council took the decision to axe the centre.
Dozens of members have now taken over part of Jarrow Community Centre. Although the building is still being adapted, Queens Road members are trying to make the best of the controversial move.
Pensioners were enjoying a game of bingo and chatting over coffee and tea when the Gazette visited the centre, whose new entrance is now in Grange Road.
Christine Maher, 81, of Coupland Grove, Jarrow, said: “None of us really wanted to move, and there has been a lot of upheaval, but we are trying to settle in.
“I’ve been a Queens Road member for 10 years and I really enjoy the company.”
But Minnie Olds, 82, of Lukes Lane Estate, Hebburn, was trying to be more positive about the move. She said: “I like it here. We can have a game of bingo and I enjoy coming along three days a week.”
Jarrow CC manager Lesley Jones said that some new facilities – such as a permanent hairdressing salon – are being developed for the new Queens Road members, who will retain their group identity within the community centre.
It is hoped adaptation works to accommodate the pensioners will be completed within the next week, including a revamped cafe area and new signs at the Grange Road entrance, once part of the former Millennium Phab Club.
Because of a budget squeeze, the council decided it could no longer afford to spend £70,000 a year on maintaining Queens Road Day Centre, which needed £25,000 of repairs.