Our Community Hub Story
A new Community Hub for Muckamore Parish Development Association.
Back 44 years ago in September 1977, The Church of Ireland signed a long-term lease on behalf of Muckamore Parish on a piece of ground in the middle of Ballycraigy estate, Muckamore. Part of the agreement was that we should maintain a building on the site for the benefit of the local community.
This we did and some adults still living in the estate remember the discos and attending Sunday school and other activities. Eventually, the building was badly vandalised and we were advised by the police to take it down in case someone got hurt. The building was removed and the site left unused. It then developed into an embarrassing wasteland.
The decision was taken by MPDA 3 years ago to tidy up the site and look for funding to put a new building on the site. We asked the families in the neighbourhood what they would like to see in the building. There was general agreement that it should provide a meeting place for people to socialise and interact with each other. It should also contain a training facility where people of all ages could find help with their problems, improve their health and wellbeing and enhance their job prospects. A one- to one- meeting room where professional help would be sought was also strongly supported.
In our planning, we felt that the building should be different from the normal bricks and mortar type should be vandal proof, have a high degree of insulation and reflect changing Government policy regarding the use of fossil fuels. At the same time the whole site needed to be re-fenced. On examining the old lease we discovered that the Lessor, in this case, the Department for Communities, was responsible for maintaining the fencing. When approached they agreed to fence the whole area with high-quality fencing in keeping with what was used around the neighbouring Council Centre.
This was most welcome news and gave us the heart to press on with the project. After much searching, we settled on an all-metal prefabricated building manufactured by a specialised Fabricator. We also discovered that such buildings need to be placed on a very level concrete base built to exacting standards.
How to fund the building and pay for cleaning up the grounds was a major issue. We wanted to raise the money without putting a financial burden on our parishioners who were in the process of paying for a new rectory, doing up the church, extending the church hall and creating a new church car park.
Following much hard work and lobbying a funding package was put together to cover all the costs involved. This involved a range of organisations such as the Council; the Churches Children and Orphan Society and its Priorities fund; the Enkalon Foundation and in particular the White Mountain Fund. "We will be forever grateful to these organisations for their support".
The building was manufactured in 5 sections by General Cabins and brought to the site on lorries.
The sub-sections were bolted together to form the building.
The next step was to fit 16 solar panels on the roof and connect them into our electricity supply. Then the interior walls were built and the kitchen and toilets fitted. Rather than go for a conventional hot water radiator heating system we opted for infra-red heaters suspended from the ceiling. Time will tell how well they will perform. We are ready to welcome in the local community as soon as Covid 19 restrictions permit.