A new community facility has opened in Kilkeel as local residents group Newry Street Unite completes work on a new community building and play area thanks to support from National Lottery players.
Newry Street Unite received £349,000 initial funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Space & Place Programme. This enabled the group to undertake two projects leading to the transformation of an underused and neglected space at Newry Street in the town, turning it into a state of the art community hub.
The project which also received support from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, the Housing Executive, the County Down Rural Community Network and Supporting Communities, means that people living in the area will now be able to enjoy year-round activities, and finally have a suitable space for community events and short courses.
Local children and young families are also set to benefit from the new playpark which will provide a vital community resource on former waste-ground.
Speaking at the launch of the new community hub Olivia Spiers, Chairperson from Newry Street Unite said: “Newry Street Unite was set up just five years ago by a group of local residents who saw a clear need to provide activities to the people in our area. Since then, we have been running events and activities on the open green at Hillside Drive, in all weathers. We have been using marquees, pop-up gazebos, hiring generators, lighting and portable toilets. What we have achieved here in such a short time we are extremely proud.
“We now have a venue that the whole community can use, a place that the whole community can come together in, for the first time. This project is going to make so much difference to the lives of the people in our community,” said Olivia.
The Big Lottery Fund’s Space & Place programme is delivered by a consortium headed up by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.
Michael Hughes Programme Co-ordinator of the Space & Place Programme at the Community Foundation said: “The Space & Place Consortium is delighted to see this new community space opening in Kilkeel.
“The ethos of the Space & Place Programme is to help connect communities through the better use of space. Newry Street Unite has done a tremendous job in creating a valuable new space for local people which we hope will lead to great opportunities for engagement and for capacity building within the area”.
Julie Harrison, Big Lottery Fund NI Chair said: “We believe this facility, which has been made possible thanks to the generosity of National Lottery players, will make a real difference to the lives of many local people by providing a space for them to come together and improve the area that they live in.”
The celebrations to mark the opening of the new community centre and playpark also featured the burial of a time capsule which will be opened in 25 years.