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Gaining skills and making friends

13 August 2015

In this guest blog we hear from Myles Lewis, who recently spent two weeks on work experience in our London office. Myles visited the Abbey Community Centre in Camden, and explains why the centre is making such a huge difference to local older people.

Abbey Community Centre in Camden provides a range of activities for over 50s through the Community Time Camden (CTC) scheme. The scheme helps to tackle loneliness and social isolation and the sessions bring people together and provide a space for socialising and sharing skills.

Upper-Anderstown-Community-forum-Ltd---UTOPIA-(2)Members can share their talents with others and learn new ones in return. They receive ‘credits’ for every hour they help out with a session and they can then use these credits to take part in activities from cookery and IT lessons to exercise classes and bingo sessions. As well as running these sessions, Abbey Community Centre promotes awareness of the issues facing our ageing society and helps to influence action across the UK.

One member of the CTC scheme is Tom, who has been coming to the cookery lessons for many years. Tom said the sessions gave him “something to look forward to”. A new member, Danny, decided to join the sessions after his mother died and he felt lonely and unmotivated. Although it was only his first day at the centre, Danny said he could “see the benefits immediately”.

Judith is one of a team of volunteers who run the weekly IT sessions. She has been coming to the centre for three years, after her sister suggested she should drop in to see if there was anything she could help out with. Judith explains: “I needed a push, as I wouldn’t have just gone in for a chat. I like to feel that I’m being useful.” At the time Judith was dealing with ill health and depression, and felt cut off from her community. Since joining the scheme she’s never looked back.

Judith explains: “Joining Abbey Community Centre was a turning point for me. It’s not just a place to learn new skills but a place to socialise and meet new friends. So many over 50’s lack confidence in their digital skills and feel increasingly left behind in a world where more and more tasks are moving online”. The IT sessions cater for all abilities and Judith thinks members get so much out of them because they learn from each other.

Around 500 older people regularly use the Abbey Community Centre, which just goes to show the difference a scheme like CTC can make to older people.

The Community Time Camden (CTC) scheme was established with funding from our Silver Dreams programme and was continued through a variety of funding from the Department of Health, the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, and the Camden People’s Fund.  CTC have since received further funding of £369,169 from our Reaching Communities programme. 

If you would like to find out more, visit

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