Giving women a choice

Participants and staff pictured at the 'Choices Programme' held in Rosemount Resource Centre on Thursday evening. (CP1003AQ01)

Participants and staff pictured at the 'Choices Programme' held in Rosemount Resource Centre on Thursday evening. (CP1003AQ01)

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Rosemount has had more than its fair share of anti-social behaviour in recent years.

Not content to stand still, local community groups have taken the bull by the horns and are attempting to educate young people living in the area on the ills of alcohol and drug misuse.

On Thursday evening a multi-agency information event was held in the Rosemount Resource Centre.

Thursday’s event was aimed at young women aged between 16 and 25 years-old.

The organisations in attendance included the Divert Project, the Drink Think Project, Community Restorative Justice (C.R.J.) and the Pink Ladies Breast Cancer Support Group.

Jodie Butler is 14 years-old and is from Rosemount. Jodie said whilst many young women of her generation know all too well about the ills that can come with alcohol misuse she knew virtually nothing about the early detection of breast cancer.

“I think it’s great that there are information events like this one available to young people like us.

“At this stage in our life it’s all about making choices and you can only make a good choice if you all the information at hand.

“Everyone my age would have heard stories about underage drinking but I didn’t have a clue about breast cancer detection. The Pink Ladies were lovely to talk to and the work they do is just amazing.”

Jodie’s friend, Robyn McCallion is 15 years-old and is from Creggan. Robyn said that some of the information she picked up at the event on Thursday will definitely help her to make a more informed choice when it comes issues facing young people today.

“Everyone’s heard about the stories about young people drinking but not all young people are like that.

“Obviously we like meeting with our friends outside but it doesn’t mean that we are up to anything.

“I think meeting with organisations like the Divert Project and Drink Think give young people like me the information we need. It’s a great initiative.”

Roxanne Nixon from the Neighbourhood Health Improvement Project (N.H.I.P.) works in Ballymagroarty, Hazelbank, Foyle Springs and Rosemount areas.

Roxanne explained the best way to tackle issues affecting young people was by different organisations working together towards a shared goal.

“In the past many organisations around Derry have been going in their own direction but after the success of this sort of approach in places like the Bogside and Brandywell we thought we would try and replicate it here in Rosemount.

“Next weekend people will mark St. Patrick’s Day by having a party or a drink. We wanted to tell the young people of the area why they should not be engaging in underage drinking and any sort of anti-social behaviour.

“I suppose even if one young person thinks twice about what they are doing when they are out on the streets as a result of this event then it will have been a success,” said Roxanne.

Leona McMenamin from the Divert Project, was involved in previous multi-agency information events in the TRIAX area (Bogside, Brandywell, Bishop Street, Fountain and Creggan) and she said that the best way to tackle issues such as underage drinking and antisocial behaviour is to engage with young people on a level they feel comfortable with.

“There’s no point in carrying on with an us against them mentality. The vast majority of young people in this city are essentially decent people. It only takes one or two to give the entire group a bad name but that’s why we are here tonight.

“We want to show the young people how a choice they make can have a negative impact. If you talk to young people with respect then nine times out of ten you will get respect back, they are all very receptive.”

Mark Doherty, C.R.J. co-ordinator for the Outer West area, said one of the best ways to get through to young people was to show and tell them how their actions can impact upon the local community.

“Rosemount needs no introduction to anti-social behaviour but it must be said the vast number of young people here are decent and respectful.

“The summer months are the worst for many elderly residents because young people, who might not even be doing anything, gather in big numbers and for an elderly person that can be quite scary.

“Our message is all about trying to get the young people to think before they act and to help them see how their actions can sometimes leave an elderly person feeling isolated, scared and terrified.”

For more information on the ‘Choices Programme’ contact Roxanne on 02871 271977.