“…this project has been a fine example of partnership-working; with many agencies and individuals uniting to carry the project forward, driven by a common vision and purpose.”

Anthony Richards
Executive Chairman, the Millennium Centre

In 1998 the St Helens District Blind Society identified the need to relocate the Blind Resource Centre (provided by the Social Services) closer to St Helens town centre; at the time the service was located in Parr, which was not very accessible to visually impaired people living in other areas of St Helens.

Against this backdrop, Anthony Richards (Chairman of the St Helens District and Blind Society) identified the old Rivoli Cinema as a development opportunity; an ideal location in the centre of St Helens adjacent to the town’s bus and train stations.

A number of voluntary organisations came on board in these early days. Between them, the Blind Society and the Physically Disabled Society donated the initial deposit for the site. In 1999 the land was purchased and the Millennium Centre (St Helens) Ltd was formed with the aim of developing a brand new purpose-built facility to meet the needs of the voluntary and charitable organisations in St Helens. Between 1999 and 2000, numerous other voluntary organisations pledged their support for the project. St Helens Health Authority had decided to submit a funding bid to the Department of Health for a Walk-in Centre that they proposed could be part of the multi-agency resource centre. The bid was successful and £1.8m capital funding was provided to build what is now known as Phase I of the Millennium Centre, largely the NHS Minor Injuries Unit and Walk-in Centre.

Phase II of the development was built to house some of St Helens’ local charities and voluntary organisations, such as Mencap, St Helens Carers and Alcoholics Anonymous. Millennium House, located on Bickerstaffe Street, was designed to house office space and small meeting rooms for these organisations to use. Unused office space was also converted into the Drop-in Lounge, acting as a more comfortable and informal location for counselling and self-help groups to take place in.

Finally, Phase III of the project was completed in 2005 and officially opened by the Duke of York a year later. This third phase was funded jointly between St Helens Primary Care Trust, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council and the Millennium Centre to provide a mixture of NHS, Local Authority and voluntary services including the Housing Advice Centre, the Visually Impaired Resource Centre and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

To further enhance the function of the Millennium Centre to the local community, an on-site pharmacy was opened in 2009; the provision of this facility (open seven days a week) was
designed to complement the other agencies in the Millennium Centre, although the Pharmacy is open to dispense any prescription.

The funding which has made the Millennium Centre project a reality was raised with contributions from many individuals and organisations, and the Board of Trustees are now continuing with plans for Phase IV of the Millennium Centre.

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