Former City of Culture Offices now a youth base in the city centre

Much of the talk during Derry's year as City of Culture was about legacy, Three years later, whether or not a tangible legacy has been achieved is still up for debate.

Tuesday, 28th June 2016, 9:07 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:29 pm
ONE STOP SHOP. . . .Clare Maguire, Co-Ordinator and Danielle Doherty, staff member pictured outside the One Stop Shop on Friday with some of the young people who use the premises. DER2416MC035

What there’s no doubt about, however, is that the building which housed the City of Culture offices at Waterloo Place, has more than found a beneficial use.

On a daily basis, young people from all over the city flock to the welcoming space. It’s a city centre base where people aged between 11 and 25 can come to spend time together socially. It’s one of eight ‘One Stop Shops’ across the North and is funded to cater for the health improvement needs of children and young people.

The drop in and social space, known as ‘Our Space’ is buzzing with young people chatting, playing cards, playing the guitars, drums, decks, Playstation, iMacs, Ipads, colouring in and accessing the many information leaflets.

“There is such an open, welcoming vibe about the place but it also feels safe and secure with the door

buzzer system that’s in operation,” says co-ordinator Clare Maguire.

“We’ve been running the drop in from these new premises since January and huge numbers of young people have accessed the service for advice and support on a range of issues, young people who have never engaged with any other services before, and who have stated that they had nowhere to turn. The Public Health Agency identified a gap in city centre provision for this age group and the programmes are going from strength to strength.”

The One Stop Shop is run as a collaborative effort, as Clare explains.

“The Education Authority is a major partner who lease the building and the One Stop Shop hires the space from it. They deliver targeted developmental group work in the evenings from Monday to Thursday and we have a robust referral system for young people who access the one stop shop. We also have other partners who use the drop in space to engage with young people in a youth friendly environment and we would welcome any youth organisation or services to drop in to promote what they do.”

With increased focus on the mental health of young people, Clare says provision at the centre has been led by the youth who use it on a daily basis.

“After consultation with young people, opening hours were moved to meet their needs. The drop in now operates Monday to Friday from 12-6pm and Saturday from 2-6pm. It also operates on Friday evenings from 7-10pm in partnership with the Education Authority. We also offer music lessons and a one to one mentor and befriending service. The common issues we have received referrals for are social isolation, anger management, self esteem and confidence building. Young people who have recently completed one to one programmes at the One Stop Shop have gone on to experience significant changes to their circumstance and become active members of their communities, facing their fears and embracing new challenges.”

Key to the centre’s success is the fact that it caters for the needs of young people outside of the nine to five setting. In partnership with the Education Authority, the service runs a number of successful social evenings, with an evening drop in on Fridays and monthly open mic nights.

“We are hoping to access further funding together for a Saturday night partnership drop in,” says Clare.

“The popular monthly open mic nights are for young people aged 14 – 18. This is a space where young people can connect and interact with each other whilst showcasing their talents to their peers. The events are offered to young people as a positive alternative to hanging about the streets of the city centre in the hope that they will choose this as opposed to experimenting with alcohol and drugs. One Stop Shop staff also offer education and information to young people at the events on the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse. The next event is on Friday, July 8 as part of the wider Music City festival and will run from 7pm-10pm,” says Clare.

The One Stop Shop at Our Space is a Dove House Community Trust project and is the first drop in of its kind in Derry. Clare Maguire explains the key concept behind the project.

“It’s pioneering in that it promotes the mental health and emotional well being of young people through encouraging them to take the NHS recommended Five Steps for good mental health and emotional wellbeing, which are connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give. We will be running during the summer months and will have a programme of activities both in the One Stop Shop at ‘Our Space’ drop in centre but also out and about in the city centre and we would encourage all young people aged between 11-25 to drop in and chat with the friendly staff to see what we can support you with, even if it is just to meet and connect with new people.”

Following the huge success of last year, the One Stop shop will also be running its second annual ‘Feel Good Fortnight’ from September 12-25 2016.

The One Stop Shop ‘Our Space’ is a Dove House Community Trust project funded by the Public Health Agency.

For more information contact 02871372456 or at the facebook page; Youthtransitionproject Oss.

The Project Co-Ordinator is Clare Maguire and project workers are Clare Wilkinson, Peter Lafferty and Danielle Doherty.