Oasis Caring in Action began in February 1996 as a drop-in centre operating out of an ordinary terraced house in Thorndyke Street – at the centre of the Inner East Belfast redevelopment programme. The charity grew out of a vision held by Christian Fellowship Church at Strandtown, to be working more closely with the community.
We soon realised that there was a need for a centre providing a service to the unemployed and that the existing premises were inadequate. In mid-1998, the derelict “Old Farmer’s Rest” public house was purchased and renovated with funding from the Belfast European Partnership Board and the International Fund for Ireland. The charity was also successful in securing funding to renovate the building next door which enabled the expansion of services and most importantly introduce a lift to facilitate disability access.
When Oasis opened its doors to the public in January 1999 we had a staff of 4, we now have more than 100 people working at Oasis. We believe that this building is a key location in the community of Inner East Belfast. It is both geographically and historically prominent and, as such, the opportunity for the centre to be used by the community to invest in its future, is exciting.
Oasis Caring in Action is situated in the epicenter of the Inner East Belfast redevelopment programme within Belfast City Council. This is an area which, for the last 40 years, has suffered from sectarianism and conflict. To this day the effects of tension, displacement and paramilitary violence pervade with continuing family and community upheaval. The area is characterised by high levels of unemployment, poor housing, limited communal play facilities and low levels of literacy and numeracy. Inner East Belfast has been identified as a ‘targeting social need’ area and is currently ranked in the top 10% of wards in terms of deprivation and unemployment (as indicated by the Noble Indicators Index).
Social isolation, minor mental health and depression are issues facing many of the community. Oasis is working with the people of Inner East Belfast to ‘Transform Lives’ and ‘Transform Communities’.