It’s goodbye to the leaking roof and freezing, dilapidated rooms as Portadown YMCA celebrates planning approval for its £1.2 million new-build project.
The organisation, which has been in the town for 70 years, was told last week that approval had been recommended for the 620 sqm building in Jervis Street.
The current building, which was constructed in 1957, is no longer fit for purpose and after years of planning and several false starts, the work is scheduled to start in spring next year.
Darryn Causby, centre manager, said the children, young people and staff were “really excited” about the centre which will be 91 per cent bigger than the current one.
He said, “The young people have all had an input into the design of the new building. They told us what their priorities were and we have worked closely with the architect to come up with a plan which will give us a fantastic building.
“We have to have the contract signed by March 31 and work will start soon after that and will last for about 12 months.”
The new centre will include a 173 sq m sports hall - bigger than the standard school hall and which will also be used by Millington PS - a kitchen with training bench in the middle, social space with coffee bar, games tables and arts and crafts space.
There will also be moveable walls, for extra flexibility, full disabled access (which is non-existent in the present building), and outside space which will include a terraced area, raised beds for growing vegetables, apples trees, a baseball net and even a pit for camp fires.
The YMCA has more than 100 children and young people registered at present and runs groups and programmes from Monday to Friday.
This year’s summer scheme was a huge success, attracting 90 youngsters, with parents queuing up once registration had opened.
As well as Darryn, the centre has five paid part-time staff, a caretaker, administrator, a full-time and part-time student and 10 volunteers.
Many of them attended the centre as children themselves, and in some cases, their grandparents did.
Said Darryn, “The centre couldn’t function without them. They go way and beyond what they are expected to do.”
The YMCA is currently looking for temporary accommodation which they can use while the building work takes place, but finding something suitable at the right price has so far proven quite difficult.
“We would ideally like to be all under one roof. We have been in negotiations with a number of people but the price has held us back,” said Darryn.
Although the new build is being funded by the Department of Education, the YMCA still needs to raise money to fit out the kitchen and buy other furnishings and equipment
Said Darryn, “We are holding a big breakfast at Brownstown Community Centre at Christmas and we will be planning other things as well.”
Anyone who can help with a temporary building should phone Darryn on 07850 592 494.