The woman is smiling as she participates in the Wandsworth Virtual Community Choir.

The Hestia Age Activity Centre and Wandsworth Lifelong Learning Partnership

 Background to Hestia Age Activity Centre


The Hestia Age Activity Centre, based in Tooting, opens its doors four days a week and provides a space for members of the community aged 60+ to come together and enjoy a wide range of activities, events and adult learning classes.

The activities enable older members of the community to combat loneliness through socialisation which encourages positive mental health and wellbeing. With activities ranging from tai chi and dance to choir, lunch club, and bingo, all members are able to find something that suits their interests and abilities. Monica Gordon is our featured Hestia learner and was pictured above, when she participated in a film about lifelong learning in Wandsworth.

Partnership with Wandsworth Council Lifelong Learning (WCLL)

WCLL adult learning classes also run at the centre, equipping older people with invaluable life skills including instruction in yoga and how to use a computer and a mobile phone.

Through funding received from Wandsworth Council Lifelong Learning, Hestia delivered the following face-to-face sessions for its members as part of the health and wellbeing agenda:

· Tai chi

· Yoga

· Dance


· Mobile phones and tablets

Members find these courses invaluable for their health and wellbeing as Maria, who recently took part in an IT for beginners’ class at the Centre, said:

“I have learnt a lot since joining the class. I’ve been supported to set up an email address and learnt how to book a GP appointment and doing shopping online. The tutor is very patient, and we all get to have fun together too.”

The impact of the virus and social isolation

As you can imagine, due to the age, health and vulnerability of their members Hestia Age Activity Centre took the decision to temporarily close its doors on the 20th of March. This was a difficult decision because, as well as running adult learning sessions, Hestia runs a daily lunch provision where members come together to eat a healthy meal and socialise. As soon as it is safe to do so, Hestia will re-commence the health and wellbeing and ICT classes that were  delivered through the partnership with Lifelong Learning.

What are Hestia doing now?

At present Hestia staff, working remotely, are focusing all their efforts on making regular weekly (or more) wellbeing calls to their 200 members. As there are only two staff members available at the Age Activity Centre to undertake the Telephone Outreach, their time is fully committed to this endeavour. The priority has been the health and wellbeing of members – ensuring that food and medication are brought to them safely and organising emergency food drops, where needed, while working in partnership with Age UK. Additionally members are signposted to other services such as Silverline and Independent Age for advice and befriending. Hestia are not running virtual classes as most of their members do not have access to computers or laptops at home for online learning, although members are also being encouraged, where possible, to use You Tube on their televisions to follow familiar exercise classes in order to maintain their physical health while self-isolating.

Working with Wandsworth Lifelong Learning

In addition to Hestia continuing its important support and outreach work – a lifeline for those who are isolated – WCLL is developing a remote learning package of gentle fitness for those 60+, using the expertise of Hannah who is the dance tutor at Hestia.

Many of the older learners do not have access to internet or may not have high IT skills, so the package being developed is based around BBC audio podcasts that are freely available and have been devised through a partnership between BBC Sounds and Sport England. There are a series of 10-minute audio podcasts explaining fitness routines which can be undertaken seated or standing – these are particularly aimed at those who may be less mobile.

To support the podcasts, Lifelong Learning is working with Hannah to produce some short videos that demonstrate the moves. Once this is developed it will be a valuable resource that will benefit Hestia learners.

Remote online learning is a work in progress and once developed, Wandsworth Lifelong Learning intend to roll it out widely so all can benefit. Make sure you keep an eye on Lifelong Learning’s website and social media sites to find out what’s happening.

Hestia Contact Details

Jacqui Clack (Tutor & Activity Coordinator)

Hestia Housing & Support, Age Activity Centre & Recovery Cafe

966 Garratt Lane Tooting

SW17 0ND

Landline: 020 8767 8426

Mobile: 07814402423


Worth sharing.