BITMO’s GATE – the new community resource centre in the old Belle Isle library building – was formally opened on Friday (25 October 2013) by Hilary Benn MP.
Photos by Kenneth Ingram
Speaking before he cut the ribbon, Hilary Benn praised BITMO for its vision in creating the centre and thanked contractor Mears for their contribution. He spoke about training and employment and how the centre can help link the Belle Isle community to the opportunities in Leeds city centre, which is so clearly viewed from Belle Isle Circus.
“It is appropriate that it’s called GATE. If you think about a gate, you walk through it and you’re not entirely sure what you’re going to find on the other side. We want people to take that step and find out what’s inside, what they might learn, what they can contribute.
“People say there’s no community spirit. I say rubbish. BITMO and this centre prove it.”
The centre features activity spaces, computer room, a kitchen and toilets. Its name, GATE, sets out its intention – Get Advice Training and Employment.
As part of the opening event Children from Windmill primary school performed a Halloween themed dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Keith Senior and other members of the Leeds Rhinos were on hand along with mascots Ronnie the Rhino and Harry the Hawk.
A variety of organisations who will be using the space were on hand to promote their activities including Leeds City College, Health For All, the Ciaran Bingham Foundation Trust, Union Learn, Leeds Tenants Federation, Leeds Let’s Get Active, Opera North and South Leeds Life.
Chris Simpson, BITMO’s CEO, explained that the project had been supported by Mears who had recently taken over the repairs service. Mears contributed over £25,000 to the project and used it to help develop their apprentices.
Christine Shepherd, Chair of BITMO, encouraged everyone to “Come in and use it, don’t be nervous or frightened that’s what it’s here for.”
BITMO is the Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation. It is led by tenants and manages 2,000 council homes in Belle Isle.