MANDEVILLE, Manchester — An initiative of the Marshalls' Pen Citizens' Association and Neighbourhood Watch, ground was recently broken for the establishment of a community centre in the North West Manchester community.
According to Oswald Sanderson, interim president of the 26-year-old citizens' association, the project forms part of an ongoing drive to build the community.
Over the years, the group has led the way in lobbying for services such as garbage collection, running water, telephone service, roads, and street lights.
Sanderson said that it has long been a concern that the association did not have a base to call its own with meetings being held at the home of a member.
North West Manchester Member of Parliament Mikael Phillips has committed to contributing $1 million from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to the project once it starts.
"When I see you start the foundation and come up, then my million dollars that I am committing to this project will flow," he said.
He encouraged the mostly senior members of the association not to have the community centre locked up after it is completed, but to look to assist and involve youth.
Phillips said that there is need to "speed up" the process of rural development and commended the group for their efforts.
"With every great achievement it has to start with a first step and we are starting that first step today. This is along the lines of progress in North West Manchester and will strengthen your community... Communities like yours succeed because of the strong leadership that you [display]," he said.
Sanderson said that although the dynamics of the community has changed over the years, the community organisation needed to remain strong.
"It is a journey in faith and we ask each and everyone... to journey with us. In the past [it was] mainly owner occupier(s) in Marshalls' Pen. Today we have absentee owners and we have tenants who are with us. We are hoping that [the entire community] will come in and join us in building this association," he said.
Sanderson said that he is also asking for the support of the neighbourhoood watch programme which was formed in 1989 as part of the fight against crime and violence.
President of the Manchester Neighbourhood Watch Council Verna Manning said that despite challenges "we will continue to be our brothers and sisters keepers".
"You are not just breaking ground for a new community building, a symbol of the strength of this neighbourhood watch -- one of the first in Manchester. You are also breaking ground to continue the commitment of the Marshalls' Pen Citizens' Association and Neighbourhood Watch. I am especially pleased for you... Marshalls' Pen, I beg of you, share best practices with other [neighbourhood] watches to replicate the success achieved...," Manning said.