Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Old Dispensary to new Teach na Daoine

With the signing of a lease this week on the old Dispensary, a group of local people who have been working hard to establish a social network centre in Kilcullen have gotten over the first hurdle, writes Brian Byrne

There are some who might be confused about the purpose of the new facility, for which the HSE has been supportive in agreeing to what the organisers see as a nominal rent. It will not be a HSE enterprise in any way. It will be a community resource provided and operated by the community. At the moment being progressed by an ad hoc committee comprising Jacinta Sully, Albert Keenan, Martin Heydon TD, Steve Kinneavy, Noel Clare, John Brady, Liz Maloney and Joe Dooley. At some stage, a more permanent operational committee might evolve.

As to what it is, well, a place where anybody in Kilcullen who wants to spend a little, or longer, time in a social and friendly environment, without having to go to a pub or restaurant, is possibly a good starter description. Martin Heydon suggests it's a place 'to catch up and have a chat, to share skills or interests, or have some company to watch a film or have a game of cards'. Maybe think Men's Shed, but not just for men. Or a youth club for the no longer youth. Indeed, looking at the idea from the outside, what I see so far is an open-ended concept, which can be anything the people who use it want it to be.

But now comes the hard part, making the premises suitable for the purpose. Renovation, decoration, and furnishing. That's going to take volunteers, and money. A first fundraiser has already been organised, and probably money won't be the biggest problem. Kilcullen as a community has a strong record in coming together to generate the financial support for any good local project.

The Diary hasn't yet been apprised of any particular skills that will be needed when the organisers take possession of the Dispensary in the coming weeks. But it's not hard to think up a few of the jobs that are going to need to be done. Probably a good cleanup session will work wonders on a building that has been unused for a long time. Then there'll be repairing and painting the structure, changing what's probably something at the moment rather institutional. A bit of electrical work, maybe. Some plumbing. New furniture rather than hand-me-downs would be a good idea so that the ambience is attractive to all ages and both genders.

All the people involved in getting this to the stage of 'yes, we have it' are people who do rather than talk about doing. So we can take it that they know what they want done. Here's the pitch. Don't leave it to them. Get in touch and offer help, whether your thing is hands-on or in kind, developing ideas or pulling in support and money. There will also be a need for someone to make the contacts with all those who might want to use the facility.

This is something that came out of a chat between Jacinta and Albert, and then got legs. What it becomes now that they and their committee colleagues have managed to get to this stage is not up to them. It's up to the rest of us.

The daoine. For the Teach na Daoine.