In 1999 the Parish Halls of St. Matthew’s Church, Barrow-in-Furness were in a poor state of disrepair and narrowly avoided demolition. As a result, the Halls were rented to community groups from South Ormsgill in an effort to raise capital and in January 2001 they became a Community Centre. In March 2001, as usage increased, a new committee was elected. It negotiated a 21-year lease and efforts to raise money for the repair and improvement of the facilities began in earnest.
To improve the main fabric of the building a large injection of cash was needed. With this in mind the Management Committee applied for charitable status, which was approved in October 2002.
The Management Committee have maintained a steady stream of improvements at the Halls. They have been decorated and made secure, windows repaired, safety features fitted and the main kitchen renovated. A neglected, unkempt strip of land outside the Halls has been transformed into a safe children’s play area and a Jubilee Garden, with space for young people to grow food and flowers.
Through the hard work and dedication of the volunteers involved, the Halls have become a key community resource with 14 user groups and a weekly attendance averaging at around 450 people.
Development Targets and Timeline
Phase 1 - Making Halls suitable for use (1999 – 2004)
Decoration, Heating, playgroup & Play area, Garden. Security Camera installed in car park, Fibre glassing of gullies, new emergency doors in lower hall, new seats for upper hall.
Phase 2 - Legal Requirements & Urgent repairs (2005 - 2006)
Electrical supply, Boilers & Heating, Roof repairs/replacement, Toilets, Windows.
Phase 3 - Maintenance and sustainability (2006 – 2009)
Phase 4 - Future Development (2009 – 2011)
Phase 5 - Financial Independence (2011 – 2014)