Limerick charity gets council permission to move into new centre

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

A LIMERICK charity which provides a crucial educational intervention to schoolchildren is set to get a permanent home after City Hall gave the go-ahead to its development plans.

A LIMERICK charity which provides a crucial educational intervention to schoolchildren is set to get a permanent home after City Hall gave the go-ahead to its development plans.

Since opening in 1997, the Blue box Creative Learning Centre - which works with vulnerable young children and parents using arts therapy has never had a place to call its own.

But thanks to €250,000 funding, part of the proceeds from the JP McManus Pro-AM, the charity applied to City Council to refit a light industrial unit in the LEDP, Roxboor to a Creative Learning Centre.

And the plan has moved a step closer, after the city planning authority gave the project conditional planning permission.

According to the plans, there will be two therapy rooms, and two further rooms which can also be used for this purpose.

If the proposal gets the go-ahead, it will represent a major boost for the charity, which helps some 770 youngsters in 23 schools across Limerick.

Since 2005, they have been using a pre-fab building in the LEDP.

Mark Lloyd, general manager of the learning centre, said: “It is great news. It is part of a very long process. Hopefully from September, there will be a new home for the Blue Box, and the children we work with, and help in the city.”

The charity’s main financiers include the HSE and the Family Support Agency.

Mark said that funding for the charity in the future “remains on a knife-edge”.

They always have to keep applying for new sources of funding, he added.

He said although the application is only on a small scale, the changes are crucial.

The therapy rooms, where students receive art classes, will now be fully soundproofed.

“To know the therapy sessions are in an absolutely confidential space is something we wanted to do before. We will have two permanent therapy rooms, and two that can be used for this purpose too,” Mark explained.

Depending on further funding, this new development could potentially double the number of children the charity can help.

“We have moved into more and more schools. We want to look at our programmes, and look at how we interact with schools. There are a lot of challenges,” he acknowledged.

Limerick City Council gave the plans the go-ahead subject to eight conditions. These include a stipulation that requirements set down by the chief fire officer are followed, and that a proposed garden area to the front be monitored and maintained at all times.