£1.3 MILLION INVESTED IN NEWTOWNARDS COMMUNITY CENTRE
27 November 2009
Friday 27th November marked the official opening of The Link Family and Community Centre in Newtownards.
The Link received financial assistance towards constructing a 2 1/2 storey building located on West Street in the town centre. This new state-of the-art facility comprises 660 sq. metres of meeting and office space, providing a safe environment for young people and other user groups from the local community to meet socially and avail of a range of activities and resources.
The Link is an independent Christian-based community development organisation, with its management committee drawing people from across the community and its volunteers from around twenty churches. Since its formation, The Link has worked alongside disadvantaged individuals and communities in Newtownards, and community development principles form the cornerstone of all of The Link’s work.
The International Fund for Ireland contributed £673,789 to the construction of the Family and Community Centre, through its Leaving a Legacy Programme and other financial contributions were as follows: £175,000 from the European Union through Peace 11 funding administered by the Community Relations Council; £95,000 from the Department of Education; £30,000 from the Clothworkers’ Foundation; £10,500 from Ards Borough Council; £10,000 from TBF & KL Thompson Foundation; UCIT provided a loan of up to £250,000; and the remainder of the funding was raised by The Link.
Attending the official opening, Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland said: “Completion of this project has been made possible due to the hard work, dedication, perseverance and commitment of The Link, and I would like to congratulate them for bringing this project to fruition.
“The International Fund for Ireland is delighted to have been associated with this project. I have no doubt that the local community will reap the benefits and opportunities accruing from this project for many years to come, long after the Fund ceases to exist.
“The Fund could not pursue its aims and objectives without committed individuals and organisations like The Link – ultimately, it is the vision, enthusiasm and commitment of funded organisations which helps us to secure successful outcomes.”
Jonathan McAlpin, Director of Operations with UCIT, added “Projects like the one we see today are vital in encouraging locally driven regeneration, creating opportunities and bringing services to local communities, many of which are working with those most marginalised in society. The loan assistance that UCIT has provided here is one of approximately 120 loans invested by UCIT during the past 5 years, a collective investment in excess of £16 million. However, none of this would be possible without the vision and determination of local communities to turn funding applications into reality on the ground. We see an example of this reality in the new Family and Community Centre and I warmly congratulate all those involved with The Link and wish them every success for the future.”
Speaking on behalf of he Link , said: “This new building will make such a difference to staff, volunteers and users of The Link. We are extremely thankful to the International Fund for Ireland, the European Union Peace and Reconciliation Programme, the Department of Education and all of the other funders who are enabling the Newtownards community to benefit from this space, comfort and resource.”
Also attending the event was local MP and MLA Iris Robinson who said: “I have to congratulate the Link on their new building. The Link has to be praised for their contribution to the local community in reaching out to those in need by providing a valuable service for young people, pensioners and people with addictions. The Link is very much part of the community and I would take this opportunity to praise the dedication and commitment of the staff. The Link is built on the Christian principles of reaching out and helping the vulnerable as well as providing a forum for young people.“