How would you feel if you were locked out of your local and favourite bingo club? Well, pensioners in Northampton have had to face just that when they have gone to enjoy a game lately.
The club at the Nene Drive Community Room is located at the heart of a block of elderly persons’ bungalows on Nene Drive in the town. Therefore it has been the perfect venue for its members to go and play bingo, some of whom are well into their nineties.
But a recent turn of events has left the organisers of the pensioners’ bingo club demanding answers as to why they have been locked out of the community centre – with no warning given beforehand.
The club has been meeting on Mondays and Fridays for the last 30 years, but now it seems the future of the club is in doubt. Treasurer of the club, Sylvia Wright, was informed that Northampton Partnership Homes (which owns the building), has changed the locks to the premises and wouldn’t be giving a key to the club.
There was a suggestion by the owners of the building that the 11 club members join another bingo session – also run at the community centre, but on Wednesday nights.
But Mrs Wright says that the bingo session starts too late for many of the elderly members and is £4 more expensive to play.
She said: “Until I received a letter there was no warning of this whatsoever.
“Some of the members are 90, they just want to get out for a couple of hours twice a week and meet people.
“It is ridiculous they are giving us no explanation.”
As a consequence of the situation, Sylvia invited all 11 members to her Nene Drive bungalow on Friday night, so that they were still able to enjoy a bingo game.
The 74 year old former shoe factory worker has been running the club for 8 years, and the prizes are mostly food products. In last Friday’s game the prizes were fresh gammon steaks, chicken and fish.
All the money that is raised by the club is returned to the members – as Sylvia takes them out on day trips and provides a Christmas dinner every year.
What does Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) have to say about the matter?
Well, they state that the locks were changed as there are issues with ‘access controls’ to Nene Drive Community Room.
A spokesperson said: “NPH is currently reviewing all of our community spaces to ensure they are safe and secure environments with appropriate access controls that comply with public venue legislation.
“This review has had a direct impact on some of our customers and we are currently liaising with them to resolve all their issues.
“We are unable to comment on individuals, but can confirm that we are listening to all the feedback we receive from our tenants and supporting them and are working with them to find solutions.”
However, as Mrs Wrights points out: “What’s the point in having a community room if the community can’t use it?”
Well, we don’t know what might happen next, but we hope this issue gets resolved ASAP for all those club members just wanting to return to the club to enjoy some bingo!