‘In the community – for the community’ a step closer with opening of Willowfield facilitiesThursday 18 May 2017
The re–opening of Willowfield Church Hall on Saturday, May 20 (11am) marks the final piece in an visionary jigsaw.
The new facilities (below) have replaced the dilapidated old ones which closed in December 2015. Now,18 months on, they are ready to serve the purpose for which they have been created.
The vision behind this project was to provide the local residents with facilities which will be of real benefit to them.
This was an area of social deprivation devoid of community facilities. No longer is that the case.
A major focus is on the provision of activities for young people. With Willowfield Church and WPCA (Community Association) now able to cater for many more than before, there will be a wide range of clubs and activities on offer.
These include the provision of support for those trying to find work, in need of help with their education, getting fit or learning new skills and volunteering opportunities.
But the facilities are not only for young people; there will also be activities for parents and small children, for older people and pretty much everyone in between.
A new sports hall, health and fitness suite will give people plenty of opportunity to improve their fitness and get active.
Behind the church hall is a new area, known as the U–Turn project.
The work to provide sports facilities and a children’s play park has been done in memory of a Robert Bunting, a young, local man who tragically died at the age of 26 in February, 2015, having been diagnosed with Metastatic Malignant Melanoma.
Robert’s formative years were spent on the Woodstock Road, in the parish, and when he and his family became aware of his condition they turned to Willowfield Church for comfort and support.
After Robert’s death, his family sought to repay the kindness, love and help they had received and they began thinking what they could give back to a community that had rallied around when they needed its help.
They wanted a fitting memorial to Robert and with sport having been what he loved, that inspired the project, now to be known as The U–Turn Project.
The U–Turn Project’s aim will be to transform – turn – the lives of young people. For that reason the new facility includes a Multi–Use Games Area (MUGA), sited alongside the new halls.
Robert’s father, Colin Bunting, is one of the Glebe Wardens who, along with Brian Mayes, has been much involved in the transformation of the church halls, working alongside the builders, design team and staff of Belfast City Council.
The renovation of the church halls and the creation of a state–of–the–art family–friendly park will give a major boost to the local community by aiding youth workers, volunteers and families and supporting local children and young people in their personal, social and spiritual development.
As well as generous support from Willowfield’s parishioners, the project has been made possible as the result of significant funding from Belfast City Council – this is the first project to be funded and completed under the Belfast Investment Fund – the Department of Education (capital scheme for renovating church halls for activities for young people), Garfield Weston Foundation and Active Belfast.
For the past 15 years Willowfield Church’s slogan has been: “In the Community – for the Community”. The opening of these superb facilities will help that aim significantly.
The old Willowfield Church halls