The Courthouse kesh Limited
The Courthouse Kesh Limited as community organisation aim to improve the quality of life of the local population by regenerating the area through the provision of social and physical services, infrastructural improvements, and opportunities for economic development. Their vision is to help all in the community by providing the best possible services in a loving and caring way.
Driven by this aim, the organisation sought funding under the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme via the Rural Basic Services Scheme towards the redevelopment of the old courthouse site to become a basic services hub with a social inclusion focus. An application was submitted to their local LAG, Fermanagh and Omagh Local Action Group Limited in September 2018.
The Courthouse, originally built in 1908 and closed in the mid 1970’s, had been at the centre of the community in Kesh since 2002 hosting Saturday morning coffee drop-in sessions and parish events. The facility was hired by several service providers including Alcoholics Anonymous, North Fermanagh Rangers and the Women’s Institute. However, with limited use and in deteriorating condition, The Courthouse Kesh Limited realised that the building had to close in 2014 as it was deemed unfit for continued use. Options were then considered for its replacement with a purpose-built new centre.
With the completed design, all approvals in place and a contractor appointed, the construction project commenced in October 2018 and completion was achieved in October 2019 with a total capital cost of £360,403.87.
The Courthouse Kesh Limited was awarded £250,000.00 to carry out the major capital rebuild with the centre providing four meetings rooms, an open area for social drop-in interaction, a coffee dock/tea bar outlet, an exhibition space, a tourist information point and a permanent base for the Share Ardess Food Bank which has been in operation since 2011.
The official opening of the The Courthouse took place on 31st January 2020 revealing a state-of-the-art community facility that is a hub for activities and services for the local community.
The building was designed as a facility to address the needs of the local community in improving health, education and employability skills by providing help with addiction issues; acting as a base for a foodbank to support those in need; and provision of meeting space for workshops, networking events, training seminars and craft activities. Health and well-being, pharmacy awareness services and issues in lone working are particularly popular topics and the sessions are well attended.
This new centre undoubtedly enables The Courthouse Kesh Limited to expand the range of services provision to a wider audience and encourages further interaction aiding the sustainability of the services hub.
With the centre providing a base for Share Ardess, this community-based scheme provides essential services directly into the community including social drop-in, handyman services, a food bank, financial management advice and a wellbeing calling service.
Gerald Knox, Chair of The Courthouse, Kesh Limited confirmed that, in providing fit-for-purpose premises, the up-take in participation in programmes evidences the importance of having facilities like The Courthouse where those in the rural community will feel comfortable to attend. The Rural Basic Services Scheme required the investigation of services presently being delivered, where the gaps in service provision lay and providing a focus not only in identifying new services required but also to identify how any existing services needed to improve. With the capital build complete and many programmes now running, Gerald added that we are delighted with the new building, as are the various local groups who use it. Working up the application and seeing the project through to competition required the input, interest, encouragement and dedication of the entire community and we are extremely grateful with the result.
Our thanks go to The Fermanagh and Omagh Local Action Group, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, The Northern Ireland Housing Executive and many others who partnered with The Courthouse Kesh Limited in fulfilling this dream of the redevelopment project.
Our beneficiaries are many – the dispersed and isolated rural community of North Fermanagh; the team of twenty three volunteers who give their time so willingly; the staff of two in the centre; our programme partners and tutors; Ardess Parish who owned the site; and our many funders who supported our capital build and those who have funded, and continue to fund, our varied range of programmes.