THERE was an eleventh hour reprieve last week for a popular local drop-in centre that was due to close as a result of cutbacks.
The staff and service users of Ballymun Men’s Centre breathed a sigh of relief when Ballymun Regeneration Limited (BRL) agreed to step in to alleviate the service’s financial difficulties.
In June, Northside People reported how the Men’s Centre in Ballymun was notified that it would have to relocate from its current premises on Shangan Road at the end of July, which would have affected its ability to continue to provide a drop-in service.
The situation arose from a 35 per cent cut in funding to The Ballymun/Whitehall Area Partnership, which finances and runs the Men’s Centre.
A spokesperson for BRL confirmed that it has provided the Men’s Centre with a reprieve.
“BRL is facilitating the Ballymun’s Men’s Centre by not levying a license fee for a three month period up until October 2012 in the Shangan Neighbourhood Centre, to give them time to arrange new accommodation with the Partnership,” she told Northside People.
The news was greatly welcomed by many locals, including Frank Rock, manager of the Men’s Centre.
“It’s temporary but it’s great news to have this breathing space,” he said.
“It really was a relief and it gives us a few months to see if we can raise enough money to cover the cost of rent for the rest of the year and next year.
“The decision was made after myself and the manager of the Partnership recently sat down with BRL to explain our situation and how valuable the service is to the community.”
Mr Rock explained that the Men’s Centre needs e10,000 to be able to remain in their current premises until the end of this year and e20,000 for 2013.
Negotiations continue between BRL, the Ballymun/Whithall Area Partnership and the Men’s Centre in relation to the future of the service at its current premises.
The drop-in service promotes social-reintegration of men in the Ballymun area, some of whom are marginalised and emotionally isolated because of factors like unemployment, low paid employment or marital breakdown.
Local councillor, Paul McAuliffe (FF), welcomed the agreement and the interim solution to the situation.
“The agreement ensures the Men's Centre has time and space to examine all the options available so that they can negotiate a better arrangement with the Partnership,” he stated.
“The Ballymun/Whitehall Area Partnership has a great reputation in the area and has done great work.
“I have discussed the matter with them and I believe that there is a lot of good will towards the Men's Centre and the drop-in-service.
“All parties will be expected to have reached a solution by the time it comes back to the area council.”
Jimmy Boyd, who works in the Men’s Centre as part of a Community Employment scheme, recently told Northside People how he knows first-hand how important the service is.
“Even before I worked here I used to visit the drop-in centre,” he explained.
“It would be an absolute shame to lose that part of the service.”
Ballymun man Mick Sullivan, who drops in to the centre up to five times a week, feared the closure of the drop-in element of the service would have a devastating effect on the community.
“Over the years the centre has not only helped me but many other people,” he said.
“I would go there quite often to get the lads talking about issues in the community, political issues and so on. It’s an extremely valuable social outlet and I would worry if the drop-in service closed because more and more people would feel isolated and alone.”