National Lottery players help develop new £1,000,000 project community facility for Glenariffe and the surrounding Glens area.
The community of Glenariffe in County Antrim are set to benefit from the opening of a new multi-purpose Community and Recreation Centre
The project, which has been promoted and delivered by Friends of Glenariffe, is the culmination of 10 years of planning and fundraising. The new Centre includes a range of community meeting spaces, kitchen, first floor gym, changing rooms and viewing areas. Set against the backdrop of Glenariffe Glen to one side and looking out across the Irish Sea on the other, the Centre offers the local community and beyond many new opportunities to localised services, programmes and events which up to now required leaving the area to access and benefit from.
The project was supported by a range of funders including The National Lottery Community Fund, who provided an initial grant of £350,000, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Ulster Community Investment Trust and Ulster Garden Villages. This funding package was supplemented by the group’s own fundraising efforts which attracted donations from supporters of the project both within the immediate area but also much further afield.
Myra Murray, Chair of Friends of Glenariffe said “We’re just delighted that the new Centre is finally open for our community to enjoy. Since the closure of our parish centre in 2011, we’ve had no community space in Glenariffe. The new Centre will provide a much-needed, universally accessible, local community hub which will promote social inclusion, help improve community health and wellbeing, and bring people together of all ages, abilities, interests and backgrounds.
“We plan to provide a varied programme of fitness classes and activities, health and wellbeing initiatives, arts, crafts, language, singing and dance classes, social and community events, and educational, training and advice sessions. The Centre will also be available for the use of local clubs, groups and associations.
“We would like to thank everyone who has helped make this possible – all our funders, Oisins CLG for leasing us the site on their grounds, our fantastic Design Team Joanna and Fergus Wheeler of O.N, F.A, J.M Wheeler Architects, and Geordie Wheeler Quantity Surveyor, and every one of the people and businesses in our community and beyond who have helped raise over £300,000 to fund this project. We are also eternally grateful to our fabulous team of volunteers who have worked constantly and tirelessly alongside us and to the many, many people who have given very generously of their time, money and support over the past 10 years to help us achieve our goal.”
Michael Hughes Space & Place Programme Co-ordinator said: “This is another example of how the Space & Place Programme has assisted a community to transform underused, neglected or difficult spaces. This new Community and Recreation Centre and the work of the Friends of Glenariffe group is a fitting tribute to the Space & Place Programme as even in its planning and development there have been many examples of enhanced community connectivity and an increase in cohesion, sharing and respect. This connectivity and support is no better highlighted by the huge amount of community fundraising that has assisted in bringing this project to completion and is an aspect of the project that the Friends of Glenariffe can be immensely proud of.” Concluding Michael added “that the group and the community are to be commended for demonstrating the power of a community development approach to the provision of a valuable community asset, one which will serve the people and beyond for many years to come.
Welcoming the new facility, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Sean Bateson said: “This new multi-purpose Community Recreation Centre is a fantastic asset for Glenariff and the wider area. Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council supported this project through its Major Capital Grants Programme which aims to create resilient, healthy and engaged communities. The range of facilities available within the site are a clear example of this fund in action. I wish those involved every success and I look forward to seeing the centre become a focal point of community life.”
Phelim Sharvin - Associate Director, UCIT, said: "UCIT are delighted to support the Friends of Glenariffe with a flexible loan facility that completes the funding package for the new Community Resource Centre sited at Oisins GAC grounds. We at UCIT stand ready to support grass roots community regeneration through the provision of tailored finance matched to the needs of the local community. In this case, from the outset it was clear that Myra, Fern, Niall and colleagues had assembled a viable project plan that benefitted from the unstinting support of the local community. The facility will have a big impact as it provides much needed community space and new recreation facilities accessible to all. We congratulate the hard-working committee that promoted this project and hope that the new facility continues to have a positive social impact on the local community long into the future."
Julie Harrison, The National Lottery Community Fund’s NI Chair, said: “We’re delighted to see the opening of this wonderful new centre, which we hope will be a real hub of the community. We believe it 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. We want to thank the National Lottery players who have made it possible. “