School’s out and summer’s in for Derry’s DIVERT!

Group pictured at the launch of the 2012 Divert Summer Programme at Dove House on Tuesday afternoon. Front from left, Leona McMenamin, co-ordinator, Declan McLaughlin and Paula Dalton. Back from left, Geraldine Farren, Kitty Kinsella and Angie O'Doherty. 2906JM10
Group pictured at the launch of the 2012 Divert Summer Programme at Dove House on Tuesday afternoon. Front from left, Leona McMenamin, co-ordinator, Declan McLaughlin and Paula Dalton. Back from left, Geraldine Farren, Kitty Kinsella and Angie O'Doherty. 2906JM10

This week saw the launch of the DIVERT summer programme of events. DIVERT, based at Dove House in the Bogside, does what it says on the tin - and the annual summer programme is one of the biggest examples of this.

The organisation, first established 13 years ago, has always sought to turn people away from misusing alcohol and other substances and focus their attentions on more positive lifestyle choices.

Speaking as the group announced a packed list of events for local families during the summer of 2012, Divert Co-ordinator Leona McMenamin says the group’s focus is firmly on the family this year.

“Previously, our summer programme had targeted young people and teenagers but in the last two years we’ve restructured it and given the it a family focus. We’ll be kicking off our family residential in three weeks and we’ll be taking the families involved to a centre in Tobermore which is self catering and allows them to sit down together as a family and have a meal and do other activities that don’t involve alcohol. It’s about promoting those alternatives and we’re really looking forward to that.”

As well as the residential, DIVERT will continue to run programmes for children under 12 and for those over 12 as part of their vulnerable young peoples’ project.

“We’ll have activities happening every day, one of those acitivities is taking young people to survival camps in Gortin Glen where they’ll take materials from the forest and cook their own food. It’s about showing them there’s a lot more to life than just alcohol, we’ll also be doing sand sculpting at Culdaff beach and we also have a massive outdoor underage music festival happening on Sunday August 5 showcasing the best of local talent in an alcohol free environment.”

Despite the funding constraints placed on organisations like DIVERT, Leona is confident they will continue to provide vital services in the community for as long as possible,

“It’s always a challenge,” she says.

“We operate on a year by year basis but we’re being proactive as an organisation and have recently done a bagpacking event to help with our fundraising, so it’s really about being creative and working hard to do what we need to keep offering fresh alternatives to alcohol and drugs.”