History of Netherton Park Neighbourhood Centre
Over the last 23 years, the Centre has progressed from its small beginnings to what it has become today. It is the focal point of the estate for very many people, young and old enhancing opportunities for people to access activities, training and employment. The Charity operates from a voluntary work force, raising funds to support positive activities for children and young people and residents of all abilities and social backgrounds.
Netherton Park Neighbourhood Association
Netherton Park Community Association was established in 1985 by local residents with the aim of tackling many issues affecting the disadvantaged area. Its aims are to provide community facilities and activities in order to promote social welfare, education, recreation and leisure within the Netherton Park area and by so doing improve the welfare and spirit of those living within the area.
The Centre was created following a scaling down of the local primary school. Members of the Organisation barricaded themselves in the derelict infant school for two weeks, they ate and slept in the building with their children. Finally Sefton MBC agreed to their proposal, this was a great achievement for the newly formed group.
Activities for Young People
Urban aid money enabled the group to transform the building from a school into a youth room, play room and hall for sport/social activities. Other rooms were utilised for training, meeting, office and a kitchen.
Activities/services started to develop and relationships with other organisations and agencies began. The area has a higher number of children and young people than older people and the organisation priority was to address their needs with positive activities. Training, health and well being was also a concern, short courses were delivered to raise aspirations and professionals were called on to give advice and guidance on health inequalities.
As volunteers gained skills and qualifications, so did the opportunities for children and young people. Many were from families who have faced years of unemployment or low income and were able to access affordable play/sport activities.
The Organisation has always promoted inclusion and facilitated a wide range of activities for all ages.
In 2004 seven schools in Sefton were faced with closure. Netherton Park Primary School was top of the list, this put the Community Centre with a threat of closure too.
We wrote to local and central government, children and young people made banners pleading with Sefton MBC against the closures which were displayed on Dunnings Bridge Road to highlight the issue, speeches were presented at cabinet committees and organised protest rallies with unions and other organisations and schools.
Sadly the schools were all closed in 2005 and many children had to attend schools that were not in their area, creating more issues for those with poor attendance and low achievement. The Organisation carried on supporting the children in any way it could – in spring 2006 it was told it could have a new building.
The vacant building stood empty for several months, children playing in the playground and people popping in and out were just distant memories. No one would have believed that this would ever happen.
In November 2007 – a happy ending! The charity moved into a purpose built, state of the art neighbourhood centre with enough green space to develop a play area and two football pitches. The new Centre was named Netherton Park Neighbourhood Centre, it was designed with input from local people to enhance current and new activities.