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The Metro Mayor has supported the new facilities, alongside Lord Mayor, cllr Mary Rasmussen, who is a former trustee of STEC and supports it as one of only three nominated charities in her Charity Fund 2021-22, and Maria Eagle, Labour MP for Garston and Halewood, whose constituency office has been based at STEC since she was appointed in 1997.
The £1m refurbishments have taken two years to complete and include new suites, an exterior lift to improve accessibility, windows and boiler system, taking the site’s energy efficiency rating from grade F to grade C.
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s £750,000 investment in the project, announced by the Metro Mayor, was funded through the Local Growth Fund. Local Growth Funding is awarded to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and invested through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund.
The works were also funded with £250,000 from the sale of a building to TJ Morris ltd for an adjacent retail development.
It is hoped that regenerating the premises will further increase the success of the centre, which is a mixed economy community anchor hub, providing rentable space, increasing employability, improving digital inclusion and skills, and enhancing mindfulness and wellbeing in south Liverpool.
During the day, the esteemed guests also announced plans for a new Frances Hunt memorial garden, commemorating the former STEC Chair who passed away in January 2021, which will provide a therapeutic horticultural space for adults with additional needs.
It was Frances’ aspiration to equip the building with a new exterior lift, which as well as providing increased accessibility to the centre, has transformed the aesthetics of the building, becoming an iconic and defining feature of the refurbishment.
Mark Ord, CEO of STEC, spoke about the journey that the charity has gone through to become a centre that is sustainable for the future and the communities that it serves:
“More or less eight years ago to the day, STEC’s trustees embarked upon a major journey for this charity. The destination was to achieve better environmental features, and most of all, access for all. Our building was inaccessible, and although structurally sound, it was most inflexible.
“In September 2013, the decision to enter a partnership with TJ Morris for the establishment of a major retail facility, followed by the much-valued support of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, have made this aspiration a reality.
“We have a transformed facility, empowering this charity of nearly four decades of community service to continue to provide residents of Speke, Garston and south Liverpool in general, with the accessible and environmentally sustainable facilities it needs for skills training, community empowerment, and business support, which they deserve.
“Our gratitude is extended to Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham for his support, which has provided a new lease of life for the charity and hopefully the communities which we serve.”
Speaking about the much-needed new facilities and how this will impact the south Liverpool community, Deputy Metro Mayor and Leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Janette Williamson, said:
“We have been ploughing resources into facilities across the Liverpool City Region to enable all our communities to access the skills and jobs they need to develop. For four decades this amazing charity has been supporting its local community and it is an honour that we have been able to support them. This is a fantastic facility that will enable local people to fulfil their potential for years to come.”
Speke Training & Education Centre is a registered non-profit charity, which aims to advance learning and relieve poverty in south Liverpool. In 2020/21 alone, STEC supported 700 learners, equating to tens of thousands of underprivileged people that it has helped across its nearly forty-year service.
It also provides office space to businesses, including global renewable energy company, Quantum Energy, alongside The Orchard foodbank, Amanda’s Day Service for adults with disabilities and additional needs, and the Liverpool Talking Newspaper for the blind, which in September won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service after 41 years of continued service, even throughout the pandemic.
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