Cooperative crowdfunder helping restore Belfast community building

A campaign is underway to turn a disused church in Sailortown into a focal point for local people

Belfast-based Cooperative Crowdfund providers of fundraising solutions for co-ops, community groups and social enterprises is helping raise £100,000 to provide a community space in the Sailortown area of the city.

Locals want to transform the area’s disused St Joseph’s Church into a heritage activity centre and community hub but urgent repairs are needed to the roof to stop water damage. The provision of heating and toilet facilities are planned and funds are needed to help meet health and safety standards to permit community and public access.

Once restored, the church will provide badly needed space for activities that will give people the chance to meet, chat and come together. The project will bring the historic building back to life and create a space for cultural events and public access.

The ‘Open The Doors’ project to restore the church is also being supported by the Belfast based Cooperative Enterprise Development Agency (CEDA) – a co-op development organisation that works to build prosperity in communities across the UK and Ireland.

Historically a working-class dockland community located in the docks area of Belfast, Sailortown was decimated by road building in the late 1960s. Houses were bulldozed their inhabitants moved to large estates around the city. 

St Joseph’s Church was closed in 2001. However, its dispersed community came together and led a spirited campaign to retain it – and protested on its steps for 2 years. Sailortown Regeneration group was formed and in 2006 secured a lease on the church and its attached parochial house. They brought the first social housing to the area in 2012 and continue to work on regeneration and restoration. 

They have spent the last 18 years working towards re-establishing a community in Sailortown, with the ongoing work on the church an important part of creating a focus for that community. Find out more and donate online here.