CHRISTINE CONNELL, BCAc
Sisters Christine and Doreen set up the Ivy Street Community Centre almost 30 years ago in Blackburn. Health and wellbeing had been a serious concern in the community, and their belief that a healthy body and mind is key to a happy community is shown through their work with various groups such as dance sessions, martial arts lessons and healthy cooking classes.
The local area had a high incidence of crime and disorder contributing to it receiving a bad reputation. Today, the centre is open 7 days a week and has a full quota of different classes and activities for all. Prior to Christine and Doreen’s involvement the community centre was open just 2 days a week. Blackburn has a highly diverse population and there had previously been tension between groups. Christine and Doreen have approached running the centre with a firm view that diversity enriches communities and that everyone is treated with respect.
Their work on tackling racial inequality in the area has been phenomenal; the community has seen various different events and social activities arranged which have showcased a range of different cultures. This has broken down barriers and led to greater understanding. The centre caters to allow both young and elderly to enjoy the centre at the same time.
Christine and Doreen believe that a community centre should be the heart of the community. The impact both sisters’ work has had on their community will last for generations.
Nominated by: Latif Patel