During the late 1980's a regular weekly afternoon meeting was organised for the older housebound members of Streatham Baptist Church. Transport was arranged for them to gather at a local member's house in Oakdale Road, Streatham. From this grew an interest in providing sheltered accommodation for older members of the church and eventually the Lewin House Trust was formed.
The Trust was closely linked with Abbeyfield Streatham, whose Eardley Road and Conyers Road houses came under the care of the Trust, which also maintained its link with Streatham Baptist Church. The Trust was wound up in 2004, with Abbeyfield Streatham assuming full responsibility for the houses under its care.
In 1987 the home meeting gave birth to the Streatham Friendly Club, relocating at the same time to the church premises in Lewin Road. This move made it possible for the club to reach out beyond the church membership to people in the wider community who would also benefit from meeting with others and joining in some organised activities. As a result of this move, the club was in a position to cater for as many elderly people over the age of 60 as the church could accommodate.
The Club began with around forty members, but soon increased to approximately 125 regular attendees. The club continues today with over 70 members and voluntary helpers, with a number serving on the Management and Member’s Committees, while many others serve in anyway they can from assisting with catering arrangements to driving and escorting members to and from outings, as well as assisting in the smooth running of the club’s general activities. A significant number of club members are housebound, some of whom are also wheelchair users. Approximately two thirds of club members are not connected with Streatham Baptist Church in any way other than attending the club.
The club does not discriminate against members on the grounds of sex, marital status, colour, race, ethnic background or disability, or any other grounds that are unjustifiable. As for our volunteers, we are delighted to say that people of all ages continue to offer the support and help which enables us to sustain the work of the club. The club itself reflects the church, which has a multicultural attendance. A number of our members are over seventy-five and many in their eighties and nineties. We particularly aim to assist the housebound and the disabled to attend. Pastoral care is maintained when members are ill, and help with social issues, benefits applications and queries are also available when required.
We understand that the Friendly club is well thought of in the Lambeth area. The club is recognised for its good work by Lambeth Council and by other care groups around the district such as Age Concern. These groups, along with some local GP's, CPN's and District Nurses are increasingly asking us if we can assist with the needs of their clients who they feel would benefit from attending our club.
The club faced a difficult time over the last couple of years following the demise of Lambeth Age Concern’s transport services and the theft of our own minibus. This has meant that we are no longer able to offer transportation to our members. However, we were pleased that South London Dial-a-Ride Service was able to supplement our transport along with various volunteers helping out in their private cars.
The main club day is a Friday when the club begins at 1 30pm and ends at 4pm. Appendix A gives an idea of the activities carried out at the club on a regular basis. During the warmer weather the club extends its activities to take in coach trips to various places. We have had riverboat trips with fish & chips lunches, outings to the coast, visits to gardens, the theatre and other places of interest.
The club is basically self-financing (except for our Team Leader’s salary which is funded by the church) with a small subscription charge, presently set at £3.00 per week, for attending the Friday club meetings. Other monies are raised through monthly bric-a-brac stalls and the sale of greeting cards. The club funds are also supplemented by much appreciated voluntary gifts and donations from members and friends. Our members also support various charities, such as local hospices, 'Crossroads' and 'Care for Carers', by donating their spare change and used stamps each week.
The subscriptions collected help to pay for a Keep Fit instructoe, a dance teacher, an art teacher and a craft instructor. It also helps to pay for the regular professional entertainers who visit our club.
It has long been recognised that there is a great deal of social need for the older people in our district. There is, therefore, an urgent need to assist organisations such as ours to continue their important work. There is also an urgent need to ensure such organisations have the proper resources to enable them to expand their activities, thus filling the gap central and local government are struggling to meet due to the overwhelming needs and demands within our communities.
Due to the demands on the use of the church premises it is difficult for the Friendly Club to offer alternative or additional days in the week. We endeavour, however, to continue to provide a much needed and valued resource to our community in the hope that we are at least meeting some of the needs of the elderly and trust in God and others to enhance that provision.
Whatever the future may hold, it is fair to say that Streatham Friendly Club has established itself within the life of the community of Streatham. The club looks forward to the challenges it will face and the blessings it will receive in the years to come as it seeks to continue to reach out to those for whom life would be so much the poorer without this vital service.
If you would like to join us as a member or to get involved as a volunteer, just come along one Friday and introduce yourself to the team. We are always pleased to meet with new people and assure you of a ‘Friendly’ welcome.