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AHF helps test viability of Transitions Centre for ex-offenders

22 October 2019
Northern Ireland

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is delighted to award a Project Viability Grant to the Turnaround Project, which will help test their concept to develop Shannon House, based at Hydebank College, Belfast into a Transitions Centre.  The Turnaround Project supports people who have been given prison or community sentences, on their journey away from offending.

Shannon House is located in what was once the stable block to Purdysburn House, one of the principal country houses and demesnes in the Belfast area, built in the 1700s and remodelled in the 1920s.  While the main house was demolished in the 1960s, the stable block and ‘patte d’oie’ garden were retained, and became the property of the Department of Justice. 

The initial proposals for the centre at Shannon House are that it will provide: transitional training and employment in social enterprises; advice and support to establish their own enterprises; step down accommodation; and a range of other support for people leaving the justice system and their families to help ensure a successful transition.

AHF’s grant will allow the group to fully research the costs of developing and managing the buildings, including the repair and running costs.  This work will inform the business plan to be presented to the Department, which is committed to exploring the possibility of transferring Shannon House under the NI Executive’s Community Asset Transfer Framework. 

The AHF’s distinctive role as a funder of early stage development work is increasingly recognised as having value, particularly in the community asset transfer process, where a project’s business case can be robustly tested, helping give greater clarity to both government and the community seeking to benefit from the asset.

Richard Good, Director of the Turnaround Project said:

“Our ambition is to transform Shannon House into a Transitions Centre where people can be supported to turn their futures around.  AHF’s support will help us to engage technical experts to undertake surveys and drawings, but it will also allow us to begin engaging with a wide community of people – local residents, partner organisations, and the people who we work to support – in exploring how the building can meet their needs and help us all, collectively, to change people’s futures.”

Matthew Mckeague, Chief Executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund said:

“This is a project that has the potential to deliver significant social, heritage and community impact. Our early stage funding will help to provide more information to aid decision making and we look forward to supporting the project partners in the next phase of development work.”


Notes to Editors

1) The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) helps communities across the UK find enterprising new uses for the old buildings they love.

For press enquiries please contact Rita Harkin, NI Support Officer 07789 758080, Oliver Brodrick-Ward, on 020 7925 0199 / or AHF CEO, Matthew Mckeague on 07429 799335.

2) The Department for Communities Historic Environment Division works in collaboration with a wide range of individuals and organisations in the public, private and third sectors to ensure that, together, we record, protect, conserve and promote our heritage in ways which support and sustain our economy and our communities.It contributes towards AHF’s Growing Community Enterprise through Heritage programme.

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