A SPECIAL event has been held to recognise the financial support for the recently opened Victoria Bridge Community Centre and acknowledge the positive impact it has had on the local area.
It was hosted last Friday by the Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Derek Hussey.
The portacabin facility in the village was built at a cost of £42,000 a year ago and includes a main room for meetings and activities, a kitchen area, toilets and storage space.
The project is part of council’s overall capital investment plan committed to in the Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan to design and deliver a programme of improved community centres and facilities.
Speaking at the launch, Deputy Mayor, Alderman Derek Hussey, said the new centre has provided a hub for the people of Victoria Bridge.
“Congratulations to all the partners who worked closely to bring this important and much needed new facility to fruition,” he said. “This centre has enhanced the overall community provision in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area and hosts a wide range of activities, empowering the community and making it a real hub for the people of the village.
“I would like to wish Victoria Bridge Cross Community Forum and the residents of Victoria Bridge many years of happiness in this centre and for their future activities, this group of community volunteers has in their own words brought the ‘community spirit’ back into the village.
Karen McFarland, director of Health and Communities on council, explained that the Victoria Bridge Community Centre project is part of a wider investment in community centre provision across the council area.
“The community facilities at Plumbridge, Glebe and Victoria Bridge are now complete and ongoing work is progressing at Springhill and Strathfoyle to further develop localised provision,” she explained.
“The facilities play a key role in empowering communities to work together to provide a much needed space for people to meet and take part in activities and programmes.
“Council will continue to review the input from the Department for Communities and other funding sources will be explored as other community centre projects reach the appropriate state of readiness such as design scheme development and business case completion.”
Victoria Bridge Cross Community Forum was established in October 2013 with the main purpose of improving the quality of lives and enhancing the quality of the local environment in the Victoria Bridge area.
During the period between 2013 and 2014, the Forum worked closely with council for the development of an Integrated Village Plan for the village.
The purpose of the plan was to provide strategic direction for improvements and new developments in Victoria Bridge over the next 10 to 15 years. A key element of this village plan was to secure the funding for a community building.
This need for a new community centre was also confirmed by council following the completion of a Strategic Review of Community Centres in January 2017.
Funding for the new portacabin facility was secured from the Department for Communities through the Voluntary and Community Unit and from council for the building, providing a modern facility for the committee to meet and provide activities for the local residents.
Over the last few years the group has been working tirelessly to provide a range of activities such as community meetings, youth club, fun days and seasonal trips, ensuring that all age groups within the village are catered for.
This has included a village clean-up and through partnership working with council led to the group’s nomination for the All Ireland Pride of Place Awards in August 2017, in which the group successfully won their category.