A community group in Dungiven says in its first year of operation it has “achieved a lot”, which it hopes will generate benefits for “years to come”.
Benbradagh Community Support say in the last 12 months they have become established in the town, and launched a number of “successful” projects.
“The biggest success so far has been the popular youth project launched in March, with numbers doubling over the summer,” said Colleen Harkin, Community and Youth Co-Ordinator. “Teenagers from Dungiven and the surrounding areas have benefited from drug and alcohol awareness training, relation building with the local Neighbourhood Policing Team and a vast array of trips and activities which have taken them off the streets and gained praise from the local branch of PSNI. Young members have designed a project for the year that has enabled them to build their communication and leadership skills as well as boost their confidence.”
Ms Harkin said those involved knew the youth project would take off from the start.
“Our original survey revealed that the majority of the community felt there wasn’t enough on offer for teenagers and young adults. This was causing a high level of anti-social behaviour and we’re delighted to say that since our project launched this situation has improved,” she said. “I notice a visible difference in our young people from week to week and it is very rewarding to be a part of that.”
Group member and peer leader, Justin Millar, says being part of the group is “rewarding and enjoyable”.
“It’s getting young people involved in the community in a way that we never could before in Dungiven,” he said. “It benefits both the young people involved and the wider local area too giving us a chance to give something back and help the community. It is also teaching us valuable life skills through the different excursions and activities we’ve done and this will benefit us all for years to come.”
The group was also involved in an environmental project in the area to regenerate Main Street.
“This has been supported by dozens of amazing volunteers from the local community,” said Ms. Harkin. “They have also begun a clean up of the River Roe as it flows through the town which is in turn improving the quality of the water.”
Ms Harkin explained Benbradagh Community Support also represents residents of the area in an inter-agency panel tackling issues in the community and have helped get plans underway to improve and expand on one of the local parks and create a shared space and cycle path in Ard na Smoll.
“They also hope to establish allotments in the area as part of their action plan for the coming years and have involved the young people in a community garden which marks the beginning of improvements to the environmental park at Dungiven Castle,” she said. “They also sit of the Limavady District Housing Community Network Panel, Limavady Community Network and the Limavady Community Cohesion Panel and are always keen to work with other community, voluntary and statutory agency to expand on the provision of services and facilities for Dungiven. A skill building initiative is also underway and the group is keen to offer volunteer and training opportunities which are so important in the current financial climate.”
Ms Harkin said the past year has witnessed the group enjoy great progress and stressed the “huge support from Limavady Borough Council and Supporting Communties NI” to help them “and that without the help of local businesses, statutory agencies and other community groups in the area they could not have done so much”.
The group is situated at their office on 106 Main Street Dungiven. For further information contact Colleen Harkin on 028 777 40169 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the group’s page on Facebook at Benbradagh Community Support.