Date: 17 May 2021
Families in north Belfast have received a welcome boost with the opening of the new Grace Family Centre on Alliance Avenue.
The two-storey, purpose-built facility will be run by Grace Women’s Development Limited. It will provide people from the area with childcare for up to 60 children and other facilities including a counselling suite, training rooms, offices and a café.
Funding for the project was provided by Belfast City Council, the Department for Communities and The Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative.
Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey, said: “This is an outstanding new asset for families in north Belfast and I am sure that it will make a massive difference to the lives of the many people who will benefit from it in the years ahead.
“The Belfast Agenda, the city’s community plan, includes a commitment to ensuring everyone in the city has the best possible chance in life. Regenerating communities and providing facilities that allow people to access opportunities is central to that, so I am delighted to see this new facility open.
“Belfast City Council has invested almost £1.4 million in the centre as part of our physical investment programme. The £400 million programme, which includes around 400 projects, includes major schemes to boost the economy, create jobs and improve the quality of life in our neighbourhoods.”
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “I’m delighted to see the completion of this new purpose-built family centre which will support local women and families.
“My Department’s commitment to the provision of vital programmes and services delivered within this facility is demonstrated by the provision of £810,170 project costs as well as ongoing support from the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, which aims to improve the quality of life for citizens in areas of need, and build on our vision of Supporting People, Building Communities, Shaping Places.”
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “This project is an example of what can be achieved when government, statutory organisations and the community work together.
“I am pleased that it has resulted in a significant project coming to fruition and a tangible benefit for the Urban Villages area in North Belfast.
“Grace Women’s group have been involved in a significant range of cross community partnership projects over many years. In enhancing their effort, this centre will be a welcoming, inclusive, shared space, of service to all people in the community.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This new family centre will have a hugely positive impact on the lives of women and their families, and will be a catalyst for improving community relations in the North Belfast Urban Village area. It will provide a safe, neutral space where people from different backgrounds and traditions can come together and connect, helping to foster positive community identities and build community capacity.
“The Grace Women’s group plays a key role in providing local women and girls with access to training, advice and educational opportunities, and supporting them to have a stronger voice. I commend them for their work and wish them well in their future endeavours.”
Sally Smyth, Manager of Grace Family Centre, said: “Grace Women’s Development Limited would like to thank the community for their support throughout the development of the new family centre. This is a tribute to their wish to turn a blight in the area into a purpose built family centre. Our doors are now open and we look forward to welcoming them and continuing to work in partnership to create a vibrant family hub.
“We are at the heart of the community and will, in cooperation, help provide the best possible start for individuals in terms of their health, wellbeing and life chances. Of course, we would not have been able to create this new state of the art building without financial support, we believe it is a testament that Belfast City Council, Department for Communities and The Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative are committed to investing in the citizens and communities throughout Belfast.”
For more information on Belfast City Council’s physical investment programme, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/investment