The history of the construction of Community Centres in Trinidad is marked by unbridled selflessness and labours of love with an outpouring of the blood, sweat, tears and the goodwill of the people – the very essence of “Self Help and Self Reliance”.
From its inception, Community Centres were seen as the “Cornerstone of the Leisure Services Delivery System.” and, in retrospect, that was what they were – providing a venue for the leisure time activities. However, with the passage of time, these facilities have become hubs for multiplicity of community building activities.
Over the years, different approaches have been used to attain the objective of common platforms where people can meet, plan and convert their ideas and creative intuition into programs and projects for the wellbeing of all.
Community Centres were built in Trinidad as far back as the late 1930s. In those days, people came together, voluntarily, to give their support to the construction of ‘community meeting places’ by providing their own financial and physical resources. The method became known as “lend hand”. Everybody lent a hand to the project.
Between the mid 1950s and early 1960s, the “dollar for dollar” principle was applied. State intervention brought relief by changing the modus operandi of Community Centre construction. The efforts of the people began gaining due recognition. Every dollar raised by the community (through whatever means) was matched with a corresponding dollar by the State. This formula continued to be used at the beginning of the 1960s when the role of the State in the process became more pronounced. Then, the communities became beneficiaries of fixed sums for the purchase of all material. To this was added some technical assistance. The communities, though, were still expected to play a major role by providing skilled and unskilled labour. This approach, aided by the Prime Minister’s (Dr. Eric Williams) Meet the People Tours, accelerated the national community centre construction program.
Community Centre Activities
In all instances, Community Centres supported:
- Recreational activities
- Social gatherings
- Group Meetings
- Community Meetings
- Training for development and enhancement of the leadership potentials of community leaders
- Spawning and nurturing of new community groups organisations
- Community Education programs for personal development and self – employment
- Public Fora
- Dissemination of information on national, regional and international issues
- Development and exposure of our indigenous cultural art forms (Song, Dance, Drama) and
- Political aspirations of community leaders.
Undoubtedly, Community Centres have been serving their purposes admirably.
Records at the Ministry show that between the early 1960s and mid 1980s, two hundred and eighteen (218) communities benefitted from the program.
There was a lull in the Community Centres construction program during the 1990s through mid 2000s.
Categories of Community Centres
Structures that were built with full state intervention were categorized by cost and population size.
Structures that did not fall in any of the above categories were defined as “Unclassified” Centres.
Management of Community Centre Facilities
In the past the Community Centres were managed by the Village Council, with a warden being responsible for the day to day administration and for ensuring that the building is available for community use. With the introduction of Civic Centres and Regional Complexes, a new system of management was introduced whereby a Manager was contracted to execute the day to day operations guided by the Board of Management who was appointed by the Minister of Community Development. This system is at present being reviewed in order to broaden participation for use by engaging a wider cross-section of community based organizations in the day to day operations of the facilities.
The Ministry has been successful in constructing/refurbishing  new facilities across Trinidad. These facilities can be termed state of the art community facilities with the introduction of large auditoriums outfitted with Audio - Visual rooms that cater for very formal activities, the culinary kitchens that facilitate teaching programmes, computer rooms, gymnasiums, class rooms, numerous toilets and bathrooms and facilities for the differently abled in our society. These facilities are also constructed for use as shelters in times of Natural and other Disasters.
Click here to download the List of Community Centres (101.56KB Adobe PDF)
- To embrace Government’s Vision to allow for the contribution of each and every citizen and a commitment to making human development a central thrust through the creation of infrastructure to support lifelong learning, skills building, and institutional strengthening.
- To translate the overall purpose and outcome of these facilities into action, ensuring that the structure relates to the purpose for which it was constructed
- To move from a reactive approach of management to a proactive management system that reaches out to the needs of the community
- To promote the wellbeing of the community through sustainable partnerships with various community based organisations inclusive of; the local business sector, the Association of Village and Community Councils, Non-Governmental Organizations including representative of Culture, Youth, Religion and Women, Government Agencies such as the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Education, other Civil Society Networks as the Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary organizations
- To create a seamless National approach to management which enables better decision making and monitoring of operations
- To facilitate decentralized management
- To set in place a standardized ‘use policy’ for facilities enabling better accountability
- To allow for the Ministry’s involvement in the management of the Community facilities through the hire on contract of a Manager and a clerk/typist.
- To set in place appropriate monitoring and assessment systems that provides for efficient and effective operations.
The Community Facility Management Committee is appointed by the Minister, with responsibility for Community Development and comprises:-
- Representatives of Social Services Agencies
- Representatives of the Village/ Community Councils
- Representatives of the Local and Private Sector
- Representatives of the Youth and Sporting Interest
- Representatives of the Religious Sector
- Representatives of Service Organization such as Kiwanis Club, Lions Club
- Cultural Representatives
- Other Community Interests
The Community Facilities Management Committee is responsible for:-
- Maximizing the use of the Community Facilities through the development of a programme of activities by representative organizations to meet their individual stated objective, and the collective good of the community.
- The formulation of and modification of rules and regulations for use and which should reflect the needs and aspirations of the catchment population in accordance with the policies enunciated by the Ministry with the responsibility for Community Development; such rules or modifications thereto to be submitted for approval of the Minister for responsibilities for Community Development before they become effective.
The Ministry of Community Development
2nd Floor, Lasalle Court
75 Abercromby Street,
Port of Spain