Just around the corner from Waterloo station and next to lower marsh market lies Waterloo action centre. A beloved community centre for the locals in Waterloo, especially low income families and the elderly.
The centre first opened its doors in 1973, and provided everything from free legal advice to pensioners to birthday parties.
Seeing reviews online you can see people commenting nice, wholesome things like
“nice hall for small celebration. Affordable with good location and easy transportation.”
“Great 1st of the month dance for matured people…awesome”
“Best place in UK for free legal advice”
However, it was recently struck with the news that there is a likely possibility of closure.
This is due to the increase in rent from near to nothing to $45,000 annually. Waterloo action centre paid the Lambeth council a “peppercorn rent” to maintain the building, meaning the tenancy is essentially to be ‘rent free’ and is common where a premium is payable for the lease, although tends to be found only in older leases. In theory the rent can be demanded, but in practice there is no rent to pay, and the landlord need make no effort to collect it.
This has resulted in a campaign to save the Waterloo action centre, and a petition on change.org quoting “This rise represents a third of WAC’s income and would mean a sharp reduction in activities and services we provide, hitting some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
With social media becoming a global platform for people to voice their thoughts and opinions,
Groups such as Lambeth mental aid on Facebook, and twitter users have been very vocal and sharing the petition to have their voices heard.
Testimonials on the defence site can be viewed and people have shared their touching experiences with the centre. For example,
“WAC is an incredibly important hub for the community in the heart of London. It is like a sanctuary against the stresses of life, with so much to offer such as the interesting activities held there, meeting new people, making friends and social interaction. All these things are vital to our wellbeing, for our mental and physical health, the exercising of minds with creative activities, the various classes and clubs. You cannot put a price on a centre that have countless important benefits to the community, to its users and to their wellbeing. It is why WAC is priceless and must be preserved.”
It seems that among Lambeth locals, the elderly are and will be most impacted by the loss of the beloved action centre. In a press statement, Jenny Stiles, vice chair of Waterloo action centre had this to say:
“On retiring you don’t lose your skills, you lose places to go and use them. Now we have such a longer old age it is essential to have places to make new friends. And of course, once people know each other, they look out for each other.”
Despite the closure being a major loss within the local community, other Londoners may not even know the existence and importance of such a historic community. And with that, I urge everyone to sign the petition on change.org and save a beloved part of London History.