An upgrade to the Colin Allotments and Healthy Living Centre in West Belfast has been officially unveiled by Junior Minister Declan Kearney.
The Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative has invested £90,000 in the Colin Urban Village area to support the upgrade, which has helped improve the functionality and accessibility of the existing Healthy Living Centre.
Junior Minister Kearney, who joined with Lord Mayor Daniel Baker and pupils from Oakwood Integrated Primary School to cut the ribbon on the project, said: “This investment in the Colin Allotments by the Urban Villages Initiative has enabled Colin Neighbourhood Partnership to increase the number of people using these fantastic facilities.
“It is a great opportunity for young people and adults of all backgrounds and all abilities to come here and learn how to improve their own health and mental well-being through good, healthy food and getting outdoors.
“I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this very worthwhile project and in particular Matthew McKinley who runs the centre for CNP.”
The Colin Allotments represent an important community asset that is used by both the wider Colin community and people from outside the area.
The facility offers a range of horticultural courses and cookery classes and is used by schools, Men’s Shed groups and public bodies to support innovative approaches to health and well-being and community engagement.
Children from schools across the Colin and North Belfast Urban Village areas visit the site weekly. The Urban Villages initiative supports a range of programmes that offer nutrition and gardening courses to primary schools.
The £90,000 investment project was delivered by Belfast City Council on behalf of the Urban Villages Initiative.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Baker, said: “In my time as a local councillor in the Colin area, I have got to know just how popular the Colin Allotments are amongst the local community and I know that these improvements will make a big difference to the individuals and groups who use them. I’m therefore delighted to attend today’s event to help officially mark their completion.
“From a council perspective, this investment and many others by the Urban Villages Initiative supports a range of our aspirations in the Belfast Agenda, the city’s community plan.
“We’re committed to investing in local communities, encouraging people to get outdoors and get more active, and we’re very supportive of initiatives that make a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of our citizens.”
Annie Armstrong from CNP said: “Another very positive event today highlighting the Urban Villages contribution to the capital project at Colin Neighbourhood Partnership's allotments site.
“The numbers attending activities at the allotments had hit a peak, so we are extremely grateful that the Urban Villages Initiative agreed to support this enhancement project. This has enabled us to continue to work with even more children from primary schools, young people from local youth services and people from a wide range of other organisations.
“Today there was a real sense of achievement when we witnessed 30 children from Oakwood Integrated Primary School involved in planting vegetables, learning about the benefits and nutritional value of the food they were planting, as well of the dangers of eating sugar enhanced foods. Our work here has a direct impact on these young people’s lives.”
Notes to editors:
1. Photo captions: Picture 1 - Junior Minister Declan Kearney; Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Danny Baker; Annie Armstrong, Colin Neighbourhood Partnership; and pupils from Oakwood Integrated Primary School; Aimee McCay and Ethan Abbott, at the opening of the new project at Colin Allotments and Healthy Living Centre.
Picture 2 - Junior Minister Declan Kearney was joined by Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Danny Baker; Annie Armstrong, Colin Neighbourhood Partnership; Linsey Farrell, The Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative; and pupils from Oakwood Integrated Primary School; Aimee McCay and Ethan Abbott, to officially unveil the new project.
2. The Urban Villages Initiative is a headline action of The Executive Office’s Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Strategy. It is designed to improve good relations outcomes and develop thriving places.
3. The Colin Allotments Healthy Living Centre is a social enterprise co-ordinated by Colin Neighbourhood Partnership, which has turned a derelict site into one of the region’s biggest community allotment projects.
4. The capital project supported by the Urban Villages Initiative included works to improve the functionality and accessibility of the existing Healthy Living Centre enabling a greater number of people to use the facilities and opening it up to other communities.
6. Media enquiries to The Executive Office press office on 028 9037 8201. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.