Supporting Communities staff experienced first-hand the benefits of Lagmore’s new “multi-multi-purpose” space in their new community facility currently based in the grounds of the Church of Christ the Redeemer in outer West Belfast.
Colm McDaid, Chief Executive of Supporting Communities, explained, “I had recently visited Lagmore Community Forum following glowing reports from colleagues about the tremendous achievement of the group in establishing this new community facility. I was struck and inspired by the quality of the hall and rooms as well as by the commitment and effort from everyone involved in setting up activities and running initiatives for the local community there. I wanted to share that with my colleagues and was delighted that Maire invited us to use their new space at Lagmore."
As the host for this month's staff meeting, (a moveable feast that travels the country to give us the opportunity to meet the many communities we work with), the all-volunteer staff at Lagmore gave us the tour and told us about their long journey to get where they are now.
Lagmore’s population has grown rapidly over the past two decades and local activists have sought for it to be recognised as a separate entity from neighbouring Poleglass and Colin - one which requires their own local facilities. Before the establishment of the new community forum building, there was nothing available in the immediate area, yet there is a high demand for local services.
We heard from Maire Scott & Kate McCormick, two of the amazing women volunteering their time and energy to making the new facility work for a wide range of community activities. The new building supports everything from Sure Start to Slimming World, drama and youth groups to GCSE prep classes, and they are having to turn groups away for lack of hours in the week!
It has taken the Community Forum 17 years to get this far and it hasn’t been easy. They credit the help of the Urban Villages Initiative and Belfast City Council for their financial and practical assistance in managing the build thus far. We credit their persistence and dedication to community service.
Their ultimate goal, however, is still to be achieved. They have plans for a much larger space to accommodate the growing numbers of new families settling in Lagmore and this current building was designed with that in mind. It is modular and can easily be picked up and moved to the new larger site once secured, as well as added on to for more space, growing with the community.
Maire and Kate graciously thanked Supporting Communities and especially our Liaison Officers who have worked with them for all the guidance and encouragement over the years saying, "We would have been lost without you!" They also made sure to get a good word in with our Social Enterprise Officer, Stephen Marks, to help with the next phase of their development.
Conor Flanagan, Operational Services Manager declared, "Kate and Maire are an inspiration to us all and have worked tirelessly over the last 17 years to get where they are today. "
As for the place itself, our staff really enjoyed getting out and visiting the site. Colm remarked later, "We were particularly delighted at the warmth of the welcome and the hospitality shown by staff in the Forum and I would have no hesitation in recommending Lagmore Community Forum as a venue for any meeting or event. A special thanks must also go to Paula in the kitchen who did Lagmore proud with freshly baked scones and cakes as well as soup and sandwiches."
Supporting Communities is proud to have a long-standing relationship with Lagmore Community Forum, providing advice and support, and we are delighted to see the success of the Forum and its stakeholders. Lagmore Community Forum is a great place to come to for meetings and events and we will be back soon!