Community centre has become a 'lifeline' for Northampton pensioners after bus route axed

The Knitter-Natter group meets every Wednesday to have a catch up. Community worker Tina is pictured bottom right.
The Knitter-Natter group meets every Wednesday to have a catch up. Community worker Tina is pictured bottom right.

Northamptonshire Community Foundation has paid for a community worker at Bradlaugh Barn in Links View, a place where many pensioners now go to avoid isolation.

The £3,000 grant pays for Tina Gallagher to work 20 hours a week and host a Knitter-Natter session for residents on a Wednesday afternoon, a Play and Stay group on a Wednesday morning, and for her to run the community cafe three days a week.

After her first six months in the job she wants to see the barn in Bradlaugh Fields, which was opened about ten years ago, utilised more by the community as she feels it's often forgotten about as a venue.

She said: "I'm trying to encourage more groups to use this venue. Nobody knows we are here.

”In half term holidays I will do a free messy play session. I try and do as many free events as I can for the children.

"People make friends here. we have a lovely group of ladies. They gave me a present at Christmas with some money and a card and they said it's been a life saver for them. They are very supportive of what I'm doing.

"The majority of the Knitter-Natter group live on their own and if they come in they are guaranteed a chat. We have one lady who comes in here and her mobility is so bad. She [used the bus to go out for] lunch to see her friend and now she can't get the bus, so she can't go. It seems like 100 miles to Parklands for them, it has had a massive effect."

In December 2017, Country Lion cut the route 11 service, affecting people who live near Fairway, Hazeldene Road, Fulford Drive, Hollingside Drive, Hoylake Drive, Rennishaw Way and Greenview Drive as well as residents who live in the vicinity of Bradlaugh Fields.

READ MORE HERE: Bus company cuts Northampton route after 'daily income does not even cover the fuel cost'

Jenny Black has been volunteering at the barn for two years after she heard about it through a friend.

She said: "I've made 14 new friends. I bring John who is 87 and lives on his own and it's somewhere for him to go, he likes to do his needle work. We have done trips, we have gone to Castle Ashby and Christmas we always go out and have a meal. We try to involve everybody.

"We have one man that comes who has Alzheimer's but he loves to come and we play bowls with him and in the summer he helps with the garden and it gives his wife a break."

Another member said: "People are housebound if we did not come up here we would not talk to anyone."

Tina is looking to start wellness and exercise sessions for her community too.

The barn is open to everyone on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 10am-3pm and Saturday and Sunday 9.30am-11.30am.