Street Artists Volunteer to Give Community Disability Centre A Spectacular Revamp!

27th June 2023
CoDoArt artist, Chris with service user, Lisa and Adult Support Worker, Kirsty Dickson, (Crab artwork by artist ‘FGB’)

Staff and service users at the Ravara Training & Resource Centre in Bangor, which supports adult service users with learning disabilities, were in for a massive surprise as local street artist Chris McGuiggan, known as CoDoArt, gave up his time to organise a fantastic art project to bring the walls of the Centre to life.

Adult Support Worker, Kirsty Dickson coordinated the idea with Chris and other local artists who travelled from as far away as Dublin, after Chris placed a post on social media asking artists if they would like to get involved in such a worthwhile and exciting art project. Members of staff and their children also pitched in to completely redecorate the Centre.

The main aim of the project was to inject a bit of colour and fun into the Centre for the staff and service users to enjoy. Softer colours were also used, mindful of the sensory issues which some service users experience. Chris had previously visited Ravara, after Adult Support Worker, Kirsty Dickson entered a competition to win a piece of his artwork, which she then kindly donated to the service users of Ravara TRC.

Speaking about his visit to the Centre to present the piece of artwork back in February 2022, Artist Chris said, “I loved getting to meet all of the service users and the staff, however since then I just felt that I wanted to do something for the Centre and that’s where the idea for the art project came about.

“Initially I put a post on my Instagram page, explaining that I wanted to do something for the service users and staff, to see if other artists from the local community wanted to get involved.

The response was just amazing! 15-20 Street and Mural Artists from across Northern Ireland and beyond got in touch asking if they could help in some way. A number of businesses from the local area and Belfast, were also keen to donate supplies which I really appreciate. It just wouldn’t have been possible without this fantastic support.”

Chris continued, “This is only the first phase of the project, by the end of the summer we are hoping to have  outside of the centre completely finished. I want to express my thanks to everyone who has taken the time to help with this project, from the staff and their children at Ravara as well the service users and their parents helping us out. It’s been great to have everyone come together from the local community. I am looking forward to seeing the final result once the second phase has been completed.”

Adult Support Worker, Kirsty Dickson commented, “Ravara TRC is now a totally different world! It’s so much brighter than before, there’s just so much to look at. The service users are really enjoying walking about and having a look at every individual piece as there are so many unique pieces, it’s just all so different. It’s definitely brought the Centre to life.

“This outstanding artwork has brought so many benefits to the service users. The biggest benefit is sensory as it’s so stimulating for them to look at the artwork with all of the vibrant colours. In particular our sensory room has been completely transformed with an underwater theme.

“It’s been such a positive event and this has actually allowed Chris to develop such a brilliant relationship with the staff and service users. The service users absolutely love Chris and actually see him as part of the team now!

We can’t wait to have it all finished and it’s so exciting to think about what it will all look like. We really appreciate all of the effort from everyone, including Chris and the other artists giving up their time completely free of charge for this project. It has brought so much joy to the staff and service users here at the centre.”

The service users were astounded at the incredible difference the new artwork has made to the Centren and literally gasped when they saw it. Some said, “It’s made the Centre so bright, I really like it!” and “I like the blobs outside the building, my favourite is the kingfisher!”

Parents of the service users were also overwhelmed by both the artwork and the kindness of the artists and everyone involved, who did such a spectacular job. One parent exclaimed, “I just love all of the pieces, such creativity, what a difference this has made to both the inside and outside of the centre, it is just amazing!”