Via Wings' big overhaul of town pub takes flight

Joanne Ross


Joanne Ross


DROMORE-BASED charity Via Wings has completed the first stage of renovations to their new building.

The charity, which aims to alleviate poverty and isolation, recently acquired the former Wellington House pub in Dromore.

Via Wings had been based at 33 Market Square for a number of years which served as their social enterprise shop, cafe and offices.

However, with the new building the nine-year-old charity has more room to accommodate its growing projects within the local community.

Founder, Gail Redmond and her team acquired keys for the new premises at the end of July and work began almost immediately.

She said: “We started to do renovations as it was in such a state of disrepair initially and we have just finished phase one of the works that needed to be done.

“We have completed our Hope for Life Centre which has our mentoring and counselling rooms and this centre will also help people develop Maths and English skills.”

Gail added: “We are currently running a homework club and mums and tots and our next stage is to get the coffee shop and shop up and running which builders are currently working on. We hope to open in February time.”

The next phase of renovations is to transform three old barns attached to the building into a therapy suite.

“Our therapy suite and sensory room is a work in progress and we hope to open it in September/ October of next year.

“The therapy suite is for people to learn how to live with mental health issues and provide coping strategies.

“We have dealt with too many suicides over the years and this is the time to try and raise the issue of mental health. We are trying to be a one-stop shop.

“We are hoping that people who have these issues and use the likes of our food projects or the fresh food share that they are not having to repeat themselves each time they use our services.”

Gail says one of the perks of the new building is the extra space.

“It is amazing and we are always encouraging the community to come in and see what we are at.

“The building was a former pub and we are turning it into something that will benefit the whole of the local community.

“In order for us to grow we need the support from volunteers and those who would like to help deliver our services at this busy time of the year, we are always looking for more volunteers.”

The charity also runs a fresh food giveaway every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Gail said: “We continue to be deeply grateful to our amazing Fareshare partners, Tesco, Lidl and M&S.

“They are now giving us lots of food every week – fresh fruit, vegetables and bread are available for a small donation from the archway of Wellington House most days.”

Via Wings is also involved with Dromore’s community Christmas tree light switch-on on Saturday, 1 December.

It will start at 5.30pm and everyone is invited afterwards to the new building.

“Children can see Santa for free and there will be balloon modelling and face painting too. Percy, the real donkey, will be there and there will be lots going on.

“People can come and see what we are doing and there will be a craft fair too.”

The charity has celebrated recent success having received the silver award in the Best Social Action Project category at the Christian Funders’ Forum Awards at Mercers’ Hall, London.

The awards showcased powerful initiatives that have been at work in communities through the UK and demonstrate how faith groups contribute at least £3 billion worth of social and welfare support to the UK every year, helping 48 million in the process.

“We were surprised but delighted to receive the award. We simply want to make life better for those who are struggling within our community. I’m really proud of all the volunteers who give up their time – it’s great to see that others recognise all they do.”

Gail has also been shortlisted for the Guardian Public Servant of the Year award - one of only five people in the UK and will return to London for the ceremony on 27 November.

“It is a busy and exciting time for us. The aim of Via Wings is to show God’s love in a productive and all inclusive way,” Gail said. 

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