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Helping hand... Gore and Districts Senior Citizens Club president Brian Kelly thanks Mataura Licensing Trust senior manager Glenn Dickson for the $8500 grant the trust has made towards the clubroom's health and safety makeover. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

A grant from the Mataura Licensing Trust will help make the Gore and Districts Senior Citizens Club rooms a safer place to leave in an emergency.

The $8500 granted by the trust will enable the club to add another exit on the north wall, in place of a large window.

Secretary Elaine Kelly said recently the club had been focusing on health and safety issues and bringing the rooms in line with the building code.

“The building is now 44 years old and what was acceptable then is now no longer meeting the needs of people, especially those with mobility challenges,” Mrs Kelly said.

In particular, the advent of walking frames meant elderly people were more mobile for longer, but this presented a challenge if there was a need to evacuate the building.

“There is a congestion problem because I think we have about 13 walking frames.

“If we were to have an emergency, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen,” she said.

Many people also used walking sticks.

“The walkers and the sticks are one issue but there is a lot of people that you see in their 80s, especially, who have to concentrate very carefully on where they walk.”

It was cheaper to take out the window than upgrade the three existing entrance doors into the main room.

“Doing it this way we were being frugal.”

The plan was to complete the project during the Christmas break.

About 100 people, aged from their mid 70s to 101, attended the weekly meals hosted at the club.

“They are going out once a week for a lovely meal and companionship.”

The club was very grateful to the MLT which had provided the bulk of the funding for the project, which was expected to cost about $12,000.

MLT general manager Mark Paterson said The Trusts Community Foundation made the grant.

“The trust is grateful and respectful to the senior citizens of the area as they continually are the trust’s most loyal and faithful supporters,” Mr Paterson said.