Debbie Sparham, outlines her experience of The Wells Centre and why she is so passionate about saving it.
I retired five years ago, and not having to commute to London every day, my plan was to work part time locally and get more involved with the Wells Centre.
Sadly, with very little notice or consultation, the centre was closed by Epsom Council. In the ensuing five years I have been very involved in the campaign to save the Wells Centre from demolition and, as we are only too aware, the pandemic has changed our world in ways nobody would have predicted. We are social beings and have a basic need for community and lockdowns have thrown a spotlight on the harm that isolation and loneliness inflicts.
The advent of home working is a phenomenon that is here to stay. Without a daily commute there is a new desire for local facilities that can provide anything from; a quick coffee during the day, an exercise class to stretch limbs that have been stuck in front of a screen, office space that may not be available in the home environment; and classes and groups for all ages that will lift the spirits and nourish the soul.
I know, without a shadow of doubt, that the need exists as I have knocked on many doors and spoken to Epsom residents in the Wells, Stamford Green and beyond in our quest to persuade Epsom Council to allow residents to run the Wells Centre for the benefit of the community.Debbie Sparham
I know, without a shadow of doubt, that the need exists as I have knocked on many doors and spoken to Epsom residents in the Wells, Stamford Green and beyond in our quest to persuade Epsom Council to allow residents to run the Wells Centre for the benefit of the community.
I had anticipated using the Wells Centre both with my mother and my daughter. The Longmead Centre is the only alternative social facility – over two miles from the Wells and without a direct bus route. If I am unavailable to drive my mother she would have to use Routecall. However, if she didn’t want to stay all day she would have to pay an additional fee on top of the daily charge to be taken home, which makes the cost prohibitive for a pensioner.
Pre-pandemic I visited the Longmead with my mother to see what was on offer. We walked into one room where we were stared at by a silent group of elderly people sitting in a semi-circle. We wandered around and formed the impression that the Longmead caters for the elderly only. My mother is in her eighties, but in her words’ wants a bit of life around her.’
Our vision for the Wells Centre is a multi-generational hub for the wider community. Our world has changed immeasurably since Epsom Council made the decision to close it. It is not too late to reverse this decision and save a building that is only 25 years old and is exactly what the people of Epsom and Ewell need and want.