For many years the 14 acre site at Lagan Meadows, in the Knightsbridge district of South Belfast, was the home of the YMCA's sports clubs.
The association wanted to build an amenity to facilitate better use of the existing provision at the site and enable an expansion into summer camp programmes aimed at children currently taking part in the EMU and youth programmes during the school year.
The purpose of this application to PSEPII asked that consideration be given to award a capital grant to enable the proposed building to be enlarged. This would provide additional space that would be used as an interpretative and training centre for the programmes for community use.
The additional facilities would include a meeting area, small kitchen, storage space, enlarged changing facilities and a drying area for wet outdoor clothes.
Lagan Meadows Reconciliation Centre will be used both to improve existing cross community programmes and to allow for new initiatives. All the programmes bring together young people from across the community to help them build a knowledge, trust and acceptance of one another.
The main aims of the centre are to provide a neutral venue for
cross community contact which would:
The funding from PSEPII has enabled the Association to lever other support from charitable trusts and provided the impetus for donations from individuals and local companies. This gave the YMCA the confidence to undertake some other much needed work on the site leading to an overall improvement in the standard.
The construction of the building was completed in April 1997 - an open day on a damp Saturday morning saw over 650 people through the doors. The Centre was officially opened in June 1997 and was quickly followed by the commencement of programmes namely our City Camp - three weeks day residential (canvas) camps for children aged 7 to 14.
A variety of groups have used the centre to date and include young men on probation orders using the grounds for trust building activities, an adult reconciliation group using the meeting room for a day conference, school groups and other youth and community organisations.
A centre programme director has been funded and appointed by the
Association in order to develop and co-ordinate the work - this
is ongoing and will primarily involve work with school age children.