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 background, 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 and 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 an NHS Urgent Treatment Centre (formerly 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 NHS Urgent Treatment Centre (formerly 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.
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 Options & Advice Service, the Visually Impaired Resource Centre and the Citizens Advice St Helens.
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.
In July 2014, Cafe Millais was opened and this service adds a new dimension to The Millennium Centre.
“…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.”
– Executive Chairman, the Millennium Centre
In April 2021, the Millennium Centre opened two charity shops called Second Chance & MC Books on Bickerstaffe St. These are fully stocked with donations and are sold with the proceeds going to the Millennium Centre charity.