1. ITV Report

ITV News loneliness investigation reveals nearly a third of the capital's day-care centres have shut

By Chloe Keedy: ITV News London reporter

An investigation by ITV News London has found that the closure of council funded day centres is fuelling a loneliness crisis across the capital.

Sotheby Mews day centre

Adult day centres - which provide a lifeline to older people at risk of isolation - have dropped by 29% in London since 2012.

Two thirds of councils responded to the Freedom of Information request by ITV News London. Of those who also gave us information about their budget for the same period funding for day centres was cut by a quarter.

Elderly residents in Islington say Sotheby Mews day centre is like a ‘second home’. Islington Council want to close it to make way for a housing development.

“It means everything to me,” Yvonne said, breaking down in tears. “It’s so nice here and I just don’t want to leave. I’m happy here.”

80-year-old Elizabeth Clare has been coming to the centre for 17 years, and credits Sotheby Mews with helping her recover from cancer.

I was not connected to anything around me but when I came back here and saw a lot of people I knew, it brought me back and I can honestly say made me well again.’, Elizabeth said. “If they close this place … I don’t think I could go on if I didn’t have this place to go to.

– Elizabeth Clare

Islington Council are building a new community centre for all age groups on another site. They say services at Sotheby Mews will continue until the new centre is up and running and they are confident that it provides the same high level of service for older people.

But there are concerns about the suitability of the new centre and whether some residents will be able to get there, as it isn’t on a bus route.

Charities say the cuts are leaving the lonely increasingly isolated.

“Some of these decisions that are made both at a national and local level can have a real impact on the lived experience of individuals and can make a difference between them seeing their friends or not seeing anyone for weeks on end,” Sam Dick, from the Campaign to End Loneliness, said. “For those that rely on day centres to maintain connections and get out the house, the impact is huge.”

But the Local Government Association says councils are caught in a difficult position, with services like Sotheby Mews are suffering because of cuts to their budgets by central government.

In response to our story, a government spokesperson said:

Decisions about funding for local services are made by councils based on local knowledge and need - we are supporting adult social care with £9.4 billion in dedicated funding over three years.

Loneliness is a complex issue which we are determined to tackle - by enabling GPs to signpost people to befriending and leisure activities and, as part of our upcoming loneliness strategy, we will set out how we plan to address this issue across all age groups.

– Government spokesperson