Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

October 24, 2012

Phoenix rises in just four days

Since 2010, a community in Easterhouse have been trying to acquire a disused library building for conversion into a much needed community centre.  But getting the permissions and necessary resources in place to make it all happen have proved to be a real slog. So quite how a damp, mouldy shell of a building was transformed into a shiny new community centre in the space of just four days is a feat that merits an explanation. All to be revealed in a TV show in the New Year.


Evening Times

PARTS of an old disused library in Easterhouse have been transformed into a fully functioning community centre – in just four days. Easterhouse Phoenix Development has been fundraising to fix up the centre since 2010 … and now they can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. 

The Evening Times covered their two-year fight to gain access to the old library building.  In May last year they were finally given the go ahead to turn the disused library into a community centre.

But it wasn’t until last Monday, when five ex-military workmen moved into the building and worked more than 12 hour days to instal new toilets, a kitchen, an IT suite, community rooms and a credit union office that their dream became a reality.

The project was part of a TV show called, ‘Operation Homefront,’ which sees the group travel round the UK helping communities finish off projects they have not got the money or manpower to complete.  The Pheonix Community Centre will be the final show in the series of six to air on Channel Five in January.

Before work started the building was a dank, smelly shell, lacking any proper electricity or water.  Now, around two thirds of it has been freshly decorated, new partition walls have been built, internet installed and all the core functions, like electricity and hot water, have been put in.

There is an impressive graffiti art installation, which reads ‘Easterhouse Pheonix Development’, as well as new tables and chairs, comfy blue seats, a white cardboard castle and toys for children, books and laptop computers.   The place is fresh and airy with brightly coloured pictures, new wallpaper and clean white walls. There is new flooring in the entrance area as well as fresh carpets in the credit union.

Richard McShane, 54, founder and chairman of Easterhouse Pheonix Development, said: “It is unbelievable, what a transformation.  It is exactly what we were looking for, they have given us something we never thought was going to happen.”

Caroline Cumming, 53, secretary at Easterhouse Pheonix Development, added: “The way it has changed in just four days, it is amazing.  It was smelly and horrible when we took it over and now, what they have given us is the main work – now we can try and secure funding to finish it.”

Centre bosses have now appealed to Glasgow businesses and individuals for donations of resources to help them complete the building.  Dozens of people of all ages from the community came through the doors to have a look at the new centre. 

Isabel McGleish, 76, from Easterhouse, who is a member of the Pheonix Club, said: “It is good, it will be good once it is organised.”

Marie Lappin, 77, added: “I am looking forward to having a community centre.”

Local councillor Maureen Burke said the transformation was “amazing”. 

She said: “It was just a shell and there was a stagnant smell through it and now its a totally different building.

“You can already feel the buzz it is going to have and it is going to bring the community together”

Kay McGillvery, 25, whose partner John Douches, 31, worked as a volunteer on the project and is also the captain of Pheonix United – the football club linked to the development project – brought her two young children to the opening. 

Kay, from Larkhall, said: “I think it is just brilliant, it is a good thing for everybody of all ages and it is definitely what the community needs.”

Kevin Godlington, 36, the presenter and team leader for the Operation Homefront TV show, said: “I am delighted – these people put in so much effort and so it is great. 

“It is empowering people and giving them an opportunity to bring in activities for young people off the streets.  It is about seeing how the legacy will help people in the future.”