Banagher Women’s Centre ‘a thriving hub of activity’

Feeny Community Association, as part of its new services, is hoping for plenty of support this weekend for the official opening of Banagher Women’s Centre in the village.

Since it opened, the Centre has become a “hive of activity”. Despite its name, it is not exclusively for women but the whole community, according to Karen Kerlin, Project Coordinator with the Association.

“Whilst the Banagher Women’s Centre is run by the women’s group, it is not exclusively for women. It will give us the opportunity to provide a range of activities for the whole community,” she explained.

Feeny Community Association was formed in 1996 by a group of local residents who “were concerned about the complete lack of services and facilities and poor transport links within the area”.

“The initial aims of the group was to provide a range of educational and recreational classes within the area for local residents,” said Ms. Kerlin.

“Over the past 16 years we have provided our community with a range of events and activities to suit the needs of the area including English, Maths, IT classes, health-related courses and events, men’s and women’s activities, including outdoors pursuits events, children’s afterschools club, summer scheme, youth drop, dance and exercise classes along with a range of one-off events.”

Ms Kerlin explained the Association has a number of projects which have been ongoing over the past year, including the Timebank Project, which they run jointly with Gortnaghey Community Association, “and our Farmers’ Market which attracts upwards of 600 visitors into the village each time. Our next Farmers’ Market, which is on December 15 will also incorporate a Christmas craft fayre”.

In June 2012 the community elected a new committee, said Ms. Kerlin.

“Since then have dedicated their time to restructuring the group and reassessing the needs of our community so we are able to provide services which match these needs,” she said. “As a direct result of this, we have increased the services, increased activities, doubled the number of participants in our summer scheme, increased user numbers for all our programmes and events and increased the number of new volunteers recruited. Our Community office is now a thriving hub of community activity.”

Ms Kerlin said as part of their new services they have been successful in securing funding to open the new Banagher Women’s Centre, run by members of our womens’ group.

The official opening takes place this weekend, on Sunday 21st October at 4pm, with guest speakers Anne Brolly and the Mayor of Limavady, Cathal McLaughlin. The opening ceremony will be performed by Mary McDermott and Margaret Carton, said Ms. Kerlin.

“These women have been specially nominated by the women’s group due to their hard work over the years for the residents of the Feeny area.

“There will also be live traditional music provided by local musicians George Murphy and the O’Kane Brothers. Refreshments will be served. All members of our community are invited to attend.”

Ms. Kerlin added the Banagher Women’s Centre has become a hive of activity with evening classes and the older people’s group.

“We also have planned a Saturday morning club for children providing cooking, baking, art and crafts and film club and also a weekly art club for adults. Banagher Women’s Centre can also be hired by residents of the area to hold their own events in.”

“Feeny Community association is appreciative of the support residents of the Feeny area have shown them over the years, and the invaluable hours all our volunteers give freely, and we will continue to work hard to provide services, events and activities for all sections of our community.”