THE HISTORY OF THE CONFEDERATION OF COMMUNITY GROUPS
The Confederation of Community Groups was established in 1973 by a group of community activists in the Newry area and opened a Community resource Centre in Bank Parade in June 1977. In 1979, the Confederation moved to larger premises at 2 Bridge Street and relocated from there in 1997 to Ballybot House at Cornmarket from where it currently operates.
The growth and development of the Confederation of Community Groups from its small beginnings some 40 plus years ago has been impressive. From a small organisation with 2 staff it now employs 14 staff and has a volunteer base of more than 100 volunteers providing a range of community projects and services.
It’s turnover is in the region of £0.5m – £0.75m per annum and with a capital asset base of almost £2million, represented by Ballybot House & An Stóras. It is a strong and vibrant organisation that takes its place among the social partners that have worked hard over the years to make Newry a better place to live and more importantly for its citizens a place where they are well placed to play a part in the civic and cultural life for which Newry and Mourne is well known.
Ballybot House, represented change and progress for the Confederation. This centrally located multi-purpose Resource Centre, as well as providing accommodation for the Confederation of Community Groups, and for some 20 voluntary and community organisations offers potential for sustainability to the Confederation of Community Groups and its work.
Since 1997 and the move to Ballybot House, the services we provide to the local community have grown and developed and the voluntary and community sector now benefits from greater visibility and recognition of the valuable work it does.
The future of the Confederation is further strengthened by the transparent and accountable way it conducts its business. Our work is governed by a democratically elected Management Committee who themselves are representative of our membership. Our Annual General meeting and Annual Report is published in October of each year and this ensures full accountability in the work we carry out.
The Confederation of Community Groups Management Committee also has responsibility for setting the Strategic direction for the Confederation of and the publication of the Strategic and Development Plan is part of this transparent process. This plan sets out our vision, aims and objectives. Our Strategic Plan (2010 – 15) is currently under review and we hope to produce a 2015 – 2018 plan in the near future. We are especially mindful of our obligations to satisfactorily meet the needs and expectations of all our stakeholders.
THE HISTORY OF BALLYBOT HOUSE
Ballybot House is situated in Newry City Centre and was Northern Ireland’s first purpose built multi purpose Community Resource Centre. Together with our An Stóras building this now comprises 30,000 square feet of office, retail and conference facilities.
Owned and managed by the Confederation of Community Groups, it is the Confederation’s Headquarters and also home to approximately 20 voluntary and community sector tenants who have self contained offices within Ballybot House ans An Stóras.
Ballybot House was originally constructed as a linen mill. It was built in 1865 by Robert Dempster, to capitalise on the expanding market for linen following the American Civil war and the loss of the Confederate cotton to the world market. In 1906 Robert Kerr, the mill manager took over the mill and ran the business successfully until his death in 1921. The mill struggled on until 1927 when it eventually closed.
After World War II, the Mill was purchased by the Manchester based textile firm of Stark Brothers who operated a thriving manufacturing business from the mill until 1976 when it relocated to modern premises at Greenbank Industrial Estate Newry.
The building then came into ownership of the Haldane Family who ran a builders suppliers business from the premises until its purchase by the Confederation in 1994.
At the time of purchase by the Confederation of Community Groups, the building had fallen into considerable disrepair and plans were launched by the Confederation to sympathetically restore it to its Victorian heritage. With financial support from a wide range of Government and charitable sources, the restoration was completed in 1997 and the refurbished building was renamed Ballybot House after the District Council electoral ward within which it was relocated. The project cost in the region of £2 million to develop