Redland City Council’s plan to reduce and then cut funding to the Donald Simpson Community Centre (DSCC) is a disappointment for this community.
Located in Cleveland, the centre – once known as the Donald Simpson Over 50’s Leisure Centre – was officially opened in 1987.
Many community members worked over a number of years to establish the centre, the initial concept of which was for a purpose-built facility available seven days a week for people to participate in an activity of their choice.
Since its opening, the diversity and quality of activities developed at the DSCC – most of them organised and run by volunteers – has been awe inspiring. At one point in its history it was home to a weekly wound clinic, and it has run yearly blanket drives, expos, health programs and so much more.
The centre also sees thousands of visitors who rely on it for socialisation. As a cost-effective place to meet with others for a simple cup of tea, an activity, an afternoon of entertainment, or even a day trip, the DSCC plays an important role in helping to combat social isolation for people who have few or no other outlets.
Donald Simpson himself, after whom the centre was named, was a community-minded man who served as Redland Shire Clerk for 15 years from 1963. He also played an active role in more community groups than space here permits to be named.
Some years ago, when this masthead’s associated publication Senior Lifestyle Bayside interviewed his now late wife Frances, Mrs Simpson spoke highly of her husband’s dedication to listening to and helping the people of the community he served.
Of course, time moves on, communities grow larger and money needs to be spread around fairly.
However, Redland City does have an ageing population and, with ageing, comes the strong potential for social isolation – people locked away in their homes, having no contact with others.
Council funding for the DSCC has been a commendable investment in the mental and physical wellbeing of a vast number of residents. It would be disappointing to now see people forced to reduce their social contacts because funding cuts drove up prices at their community centre at a time of their life when every dollar counts.
Is that really what this city wants for people reaching such a vulnerable stage of life?