Clooney Estate young people to benefit from new project

Betty Harkin, project manager, Clooney Estate Residents Association and Christopher Cooper, youth intervention worker pictured with Kathleen and may. (1901Sl05)
Betty Harkin, project manager, Clooney Estate Residents Association and Christopher Cooper, youth intervention worker pictured with Kathleen and may. (1901Sl05)

The Clooney Estate in the Waterside will undergo a facelift over the coming weeks after the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSP) granted Clooney Estate Residents Association (CERA) funding to tackle health and social issues in the area.

The project, which is called Building Communities, is led by the youth of the area and will focus on important issues such as underage smoking, bullying and relationships between young people and older people in the area.

Chris Cooper is a youth intervention worker with CERA and believes that the decision of PCSP to award funding will be of immeasurable support to the local community.

“The whole point of this project is to equip the youth of the area with the practical skills they require to become more confident. It’s hoped that by tackling such issues as underage smoking and bullying that the project will help the young people to become better citizens.”

Chris has worked in the Clooney Estate for the last two years and is more than familiar with the issues facing the local community. He believes that bringing the younger and older generations to work together will do wonders for relationships within the community.

“Sometimes the older people living in Clooney can feel a little isolated and intimidated but through such initiatives as ‘Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks’ I think things can only get better.

“‘Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks’ will see the younger people in the community working hand in hand with the older people.

“Local horticulturist Gareth Austin will facilitate this initiative. It’s hoped that we will be able start a ‘grow your own veg’ project on the back of it too. The plan would be to get the older people and the younger people to work together towards creating a community garden.

“We also plan on visiting the older people to find out what it is they like and dislike about the current state of the community in the Clooney Estate.

“So, for example, say an older person says they don’t like graffiti, we will take a picture of the wall before and after we clean it up.

“The whole point of this project is to engage with young people and provide them with more opportunities.”

Another initiative within the project is called ‘The Friendship Club’. It’s aimed at young people aged between eight and 12 years old.

Chris said that one of the aims of this initiative is to show the young people how to cook for themselves and how to eat healthy.

“We have 40 young people from the area signed up to this initiative and it’s all about showing young children what to eat and what not to eat.

“We will be using healthy ingredients and it’s all about showing children that they can eat nice food that is actually good for them.”

Chris explained that community workers in the area are concerned at the amount of young people aged between 13-17 who are smoking. Chris said that CERA hope to tackle the issue through workshops and information sessions over the coming weeks.

“It’s the first time that Clooney has ever got the funding needed to tackle the important issues.

“The young people are the future of this area so it’s vitally important we do all in our power to protect and nurture them.

“One of the biggest issues affecting our young people is underage smoking. I don’t need to educate anyone on the ills of smoking but we would hope to address the issue locally by talking to young people and explaining to them why they should think twice before taking the habit up.”

The increasing numbers of young people who use social network websites has seen an increase in the level of online bullying. Chris said that the young people in the area will work towards designing a comic that will focus on the issues of bullying by explaining how it can impact upon an individual.

“We have all heard the stories of people being bullied and it’s no different here in Clooney. It’s important that we explain to young people about the consequences of bullying. The young people of this area will work closely with a local artist to design a comic that will look closely at the issue.”

For more information on the Building Communities project in the Clooney Estate telephone 028 7134 7799.