IT was almost a carnival atmosphere at Strabane Health Improvement Project this week for the official opening of the group’s new state of the art community health building.
With notables present such the permanent secretary from the Department for Communities (DfC), Tracy Meharg, Mayor Michaela Boyle, MP for West Tyrone, Órfhlaith Begley and including a host of familiar faces from across Strabane, the event on Tuesday is the culmination of some 16 years’ worth of development by the project.
Costing in the region of £315,000, the new modular facility – offices, meeting room, counselling room, kitchen, toilet areas and large communal meeting room – has already been operational for some time, to the benefit of many people in the area.
Supported and funded by DfC, the development has also enhanced what the good people at Strabane Health Improvement Project were already doing.
Men living on their own
Opening proceedings in the communal area, project officer, Jarlath McNulty welcomed everyone for attending.
“For our organisation, the concept of developing a localised community health and well-being facility started back in 2002,” Jarlath explained.
“At this time we were involved in developing programmes for men living on their own and through contact with their families we realised that there was a need for the development of wider community health programmes.
“In 2006 we were successful in getting funding for the development of a small pilot project which saw our organisation erect a small polytunnel. From this project we quickly established the need for a larger programme.”
In 2008, the local project secured the lease of the land from the then Strabane District Council. This provided Strabane Health Improvement Project with scope to expand yet again and also allowed for the full-time staffing of the project.
“With the successful completion of this building the challenge for our new project now is to make sure that the most important aspect of our development, ‘the community’ utilises this new facility. And we believe that this can only be done in partnership with other statutory, community and voluntary organisations and over the coming months and years we, as an organisation, look forward to the development of these new partnerships.”
Also speaking at the launch, DfC permanent secretary Tracy Meharg added,
“This project is a much needed and welcome boost for the people of Strabane and will improve social conditions for the people who live in the most deprived neighbourhoods, through better co-ordinated public services and the creation of safer environments.”
This new building will enable Strabane Health Improvement Project to expand the existing programme delivering new innovative programmes. The additional rooms will enable the group to deliver workshops, activities and programmes housing a maximum of 25 people within the building at any given time.
Speaking on behalf of the project, its chairperson, John Falconer concluded, “This new building will have a huge impact on the health and well-being of the communities of Strabane town. It will provide our project with a purpose built building from which we will develop a range of new community partnership programmes that will complement existing health and well-being programmes already being developed within the Strabane area.”