Deputy Lord Mayor for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough, Councillor Margaret Tinsley formally opened a new Community Hub and Sensory Room in Rathfriland on Tuesday.
The work is the culmination of the Rathfriland Re-imaging project delivered by Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company and funded through Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s PEACE IV Programme and the Community Grants scheme.
The PEACE IV programme is a cross-border initiative, financed through the European Union and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
PEACE IV has been designed to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland.
In addition to supporting peace and reconciliation, the programme also contributes to the promotion of social and economic stability, in particular through actions to promote cohesion between communities.
Speaking at the opening ceremony the Deputy Lord Mayor commented: “The council welcomes the opportunity to support the development of shared spaces and services through the Rathfriland Re-imaging project and we would like to commend the commitment of Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company with improving inclusive services in this rural setting.
“This project is an excellent example of what can be achieved when communities and service agencies build relationships and work together to improve quality of life for local citizens, not just for the present but for future generations.”
The state-of-the-art Sensory Room will offer rich and varied experiences to enable some of the most vulnerable citizens in the borough the opportunity to explore their senses, improving quality of life for them and their families. Development of this space is supported by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust who will work closely with Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company to ensure that service users can access this space.
The Community Hub provides a number of rooms suitable for training, conferences, meetings or just social connection and currently offers a number of activities including the Men’s Shed, guitar classes and craft activities.
The Hub contains an IT suite which facilitates the provision of computer based training for the community. A number of free Essential Skills and City and Guilds training programmes supported by Southern Regional College are available with more planned for the future. Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company also facilitate a Digital Photography programme for the more adventurous computer user.
With the support of the council’s Community Grant Scheme and funding from the Foyle Foundation, the façade of the building has been refurbished in keeping with the style of the market town square to create a community venue that reflects the rich heritage of the area.