15 Aug The Junction official opening “a tribute to a shared vision”
STEP were delighted to hold two events to officially open the new community building, The Junction, at Beechvalley Way in Dungannon town. On Saturday local community members were invited to a family fun day with children entertained by bouncy castles, slides, characters, facepainting while their parents and grandparents enjoyed refreshments in the building. Despite the weather, several hundred people attended the event and got their first viewing of the building.
A more formal occasion took place on Monday the 4th of July, with a brunch networking event whereby community organisations, local residents groups, local council officials were invited to the conference facilities at The Junction. Those attending heard from speakers who were in some way involved in the building project.
Bernadette McAliskey, CEO of STEP chaired proceedings with a reminder to all that the building belonged to everyone. While it was a long term vision for STEP, there was to be no doubt that the building as it stands is a shared space to be utilised by everyone. She paid homage to the team at HallBlackDouglas architects and QMAC construction for their hard work in realising the vision.
Also speaking was Ann McGlone, CE of Willowbank and Chairperson of the STEP Management Board who suggested that the building was a testament to the community and voluntary sector who she knew if given the opportunity can always deliver. The Junction was an example of what people can achieve if given the time, space and resource to do so.
Iain Frazer, former CE of the former Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council played a lead role in the EARLS partnership through which STEP and the Council delivered on the £7m investment in Dungannon funded through SEUPB. Iain described The Junction as an “iconic building” and a tribute to teamwork internally at STEP and the Council and externally through partnerships between the two.
The funder of the project, SEUPB, was represented by Programme Manager, Brenda Hegarty, who described the long but fruitful journey that created a transformative building and she stressed the importance of knowing that the journey didn’t end with the building but that it must be used to transform the community. She paid tribute to STEP and the council for “taking the opportunity” and achieving the project outcomes within the short timescale. She also noted the 3.3 billion European investment through the Peace programmes over the past 20 years.
Bernadette reiterated this point that the building could not become an abstract building but have purpose and a reason for being there. She spoke about how the abundance of funding for a long period of time affected the ability of the community sector to just do work without having the money because it needed to be done. She introduced Padraic Quirk from the Social Change Initiative who had previously worked with STEP under Atlantic Philanthropies. Padraic spoke about the building being a testament to “thinking big” and how over the 10-year relationship AP enjoyed with STEP how he admired the ability of the organisation to understand the complexity of problems but to find solutions and STEP’ s entrepreneurship for public good and promoting human rights. He spoke of how Chuck Feeney and AP liked investing in capital buildings because a “good building for good minds can make a difference to people”, he believes that the Junction will provide a ripple effect of good change for the people who will use it.
The final speaker, Fintan McAliskey managed the build project for STEP. In his address he complimented HallBlack Douglas for their professionalism and being on board with the concept from the start. He also thanked individuals within the Council and CPD who assisted him in keeping the project guidelines and specifications right and to the building neighbours, Dungannon West Renewal, Tesco and local residents for their accommodation during the early construction phase and QMAC for making that process easier when they became involved.
Fintan reminded everyone that building would probably be around for longer than anyone in the room and it was important that it fulfil its premise through the good nature of its tenants and those working in the community and voluntary sector. He restated that The Junction was a shared space and looked to the future that it would also have shared ownership by a bringing together of community assets in the area so they were safeguarded for the people they were intended to serve.
The Junction is now open for room bookings with various sizes of rooms and space available. For further information, contact 028 87 448448.