A women’s group in Dungannon has transformed an abandoned mill in the town with the help of National Lottery funding, creating a facility which is set to help improve the lives of women living in the Mid-Ulster area, and those newly arrived to the community.

First Steps Women’s Centre, an organisation which has worked for twenty years with women to help enhance their life prospects, is celebrating the launch of the new facility having received £350,000 in funding from the Big Lottery Funded Space & Place Programme.

In recent years it has seen the demands for its services grow as women increasingly face underemployment, and as the area has fast become home to a growing ethnic minority community.

 Thanks to National Lottery players, the organisation was able to refurbish and expand its premises including opening up an underground mill within the building to create valuable new space. The project also received support from the Department for Communities and ASDA. 

The new facilities include a new permanent crèche facility, computer suites, a counselling room, multi-purpose training rooms, enterprise and therapy rooms as well as a larger kitchen and conference room which will allow increased uptake of courses, as well as other services to help target some of the health & employment issues identified in the local area.

Speaking about the new centre, Michael McGoldrick, CEO, from First Steps Women’s Centre said: “We are delighted to launch our new enhanced centre today. It is our aim to increase our services and meet the needs of the community as a whole.“

Michael Hughes Co-ordinator of the Space & Place Programme said:“The Space & Place Programme is delighted to have been able to support First Steps Women’s Centre with funding which will enhance the services they are able to offer women in the Mid Ulster area. The new centre is sure to be a valuable asset for the whole community and fits perfectly with the ethos of the Space & Place Programme in providing an opportunity for people to come together to identify a shared vision for their area and work together to deliver it.”

Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland Director Joanne McDowell said: “We are delighted to see how First Steps Women’s Centre has worked with local people to develop this centre. We believe this facility, which has been made possible thanks to the generosity of National Lottery players, will make a real difference to the lives of many local people by providing a space for them to come together and improve the area that they live in.”

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