Brief History: The need for the Flax Centre in this deprived area of North Belfast was identified through the organization of a house to house survey carried out by the Ardoyne Association. Fundamental to the project was the inclusion of a health centre.
A development fund was set up at the beginning of 1986 to raise funds to build the centre. Approximately 1000 people were asked to contribute the price of a Mars bar each week and an amount of over £47,000 was raised. This income provided the leverage for the additional finance required. A population of over 50% unemployed was prepared to contribute towards the building of its own Health Centre.
Even though the Flax Centre came with a purpose built health centre facility, it was only after some years of struggle and persistence that both a Doctor and Dental Surgery were realized. While Government funds now meet a good proportion of costs relating to the health centre, it still depends on funding from the Flax Trust. Indeed, without Flax Trust funding the health centre would not have been operational from its inception.
In July 1989 the local community succeeded in securing the construction of a 42,000 sq ft complex designed in
accordance with the community’s stated priorities and needs. The Centre contains: a Shopping Mall (12 units);
Supermarket (including a Post Office from 2001); Health Centre including Doctor and Dental Surgeries and the Ardoyne/Shankill Healthy Living Project; a Day Centre for the Elderly and 13 small incubation units.
The Flax Centre is managed by the community based North Belfast Co-operative Ltd and provides between 125/150 jobs, the majority of which are filled by the local community.