Chinese centre marks new era for former interface
A state-of-the-art multi-cultural facility aimed at enhancing diversity and developing the participation of Chinese people across Northern Ireland opened its doors this week (Monday, September 19).
The launch of the new Chinese Community and Resource Centre coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Chinese Welfare Association (CWA) in Northern Ireland. The facility has been created to help incorporate Chinese Northern Ireland citizens in all aspects of social, cultural, economic and public life.
The new 880 square-metre centre on the Ormeau Embankment, boasts a multi-purpose hall, training rooms, library, conference rooms, crèche and playground.
The project is the first of its kind, took nearly three years to complete, and is supported by the Department of Social Development (DSD), the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), The Big Lottery Fund’s Building Quality Childcare programme, Ulster Garden Villages, Bombardier and the local Chinese community.
To celebrate the opening, the Centre has kicked off a week long festival of culture, promoting CWA’s direct services and their intercultural work including a Health day, policing and housing seminars, the launch of Homely Planet Chinese Welfare Radio, International Peace Day which will take place at Forestside shopping centre, culminating in a Chinese food tasting and cultural afternoon on September 24.
Eileen Chan-Hu, Chief Executive of CWA said: “CWA is a community and voluntary organisation that has existed for 25 years in the welfare sector, we need your support to see us help the Chinese community integrate into the host community and to support our services which has over 5,000 requests per annum.
“Our wonderful building to serve the Chinese and wider community is a central shared space to allow mutual understanding and promote diversity and equality and I thank all our funders in helping us achieve our vision.
“We now have the first multi-purpose building for the Chinese Community in the UK, along our beautiful River Lagan and built on a site which was once an interface area of conflict in Belfast.”
Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said: “The Big Lottery Fund’s Building Quality Childcare programme has enabled community initiatives like the Chinese Community and Resource centre to make a real difference to the lives of parents and children across Northern Ireland.
Belfast City Council played a key role in helping the CWA access the land for the project.