Thanks to £750,000 from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority the £1m transformation of Speke Training and Education Centre is now complete. Tony McDonough reports
A Liverpool training and education centre has undergone a £1m refurbishment.
A two-year project has seen the transformation of Speke Training and Education Centre (STEC). It includes new suites, an exterior lift to improve accessibility, windows and a boiler system that significantly reduces its carbon footprint.
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has invested £750,000 into the project through the Local Growth Fund. The other £250,000 was raised through the sale of an adjacent building to Home Bargains owner, TJ Morris, for a new store.
STEC also enjoys the support of Liverpool Lord Mayor, Mary Rasmussen, who is a former trustee. It is one of three nominated charities in her mayoral charity fund 2021-22. Labour MP for Garston and Halewood, Maria Eagle, also has her constituency office in the building.
Regenerating the premises will enhance the centre’s role as a mixed economy community anchor hub. It provides rentable space, increases employability, improves digital inclusion and skills, and enhances mindfulness and wellbeing in south Liverpool.
There are also plans for a new Frances Hunt memorial garden, commemorating the former STEC Chair who died in January 2021, which will provide a therapeutic horticultural space for adults with additional needs.
It was Frances’ aspiration to equip the building with a new exterior lift, which as well as providing increased accessibility to the centre.
At the relaunch ceremony Mark Ord, chief executive of STEC, spoke about the journey that the charity has gone through to become a centre that is sustainable for the future and the communities that it serves.
He said: “More or less eight years ago to the day, STEC’s trustees embarked upon a major journey for this charity. The destination was to achieve better environmental features, and most of all, access for all. Our building was inaccessible, and although structurally sound, it was most inflexible.
“In September 2013, the decision to enter a partnership with TJ Morris for the establishment of a major retail facility, followed by the much-valued support of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, have made this aspiration a reality.
“We have a transformed facility, empowering this charity of nearly four decades of community service to continue to provide residents of Speke, Garston and south Liverpool in general, with the accessible and environmentally sustainable facilities it needs for skills training, community empowerment, and business support, which they deserve.”
STEC is a registered non-profit charity, which aims to advance learning and relieve poverty in south Liverpool. In 2020/21 alone, STEC supported 700 learners, equating to tens of thousands of underprivileged people that it has helped across its nearly forty-year service.
It also provides office space to businesses, including global renewable energy company, Quantum Energy, alongside The Orchard foodbank, Amanda’s Day Service for adults with disabilities and additional needs, and the Liverpool Talking Newspaper for the blind.