Young people from across Derry are set to band together to lobby for a first class Youth Zone after a visit to a state-of-the-art facility in Manchester.
Thirteen teenagers from Rosemount, Ballymagroarty and the Glen visited the Factory Youth Zone in north Manchester and have now begun talks with other young people from right across Derry to lobby for a Youth Zone in Derry.
The trip was organised by Outer West Youth backed by Youth Safety Partnership through NI Alternatives.
Outer West Youth Vice-Chairman David Young (16) described the Manchester facility as brilliant and said he would like to see it replicated in Derry. Chairman Conrad Kennedy (15) agreed: “It was class. There were lots of teenagers coming in off the streets at night-time and that has had an impact on under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour.”
Treasurer Ethan Lynch (17), added: “It was a brilliant experience to see what they have done. We haven’t anything like that and we are going to try our hardest to get something like this over here.”
The Factory Youth Forum includes sports pitches, a basketball court, climbing arena, disco, games rooms, dance studio and cafe, while training, education and counselling are among the services offered. The centre was designed with input from young people, and they help run it.
The project has resulted in crime and anti-social behaviour dropping by 50%.
Local youth workers Darren O’Reilly, Adrian Kelly and Rebecca Doherty led the trip. Mr Kelly said: “The next step is funding and the council is looking for Derry to be the next European Youth Capital so this is very relevant.”
He added that Stormont and other bodies would also be approached over the coming weeks, while the young people prepare to meet Mayor Elisha McCallion next week.
Mr O’Reilly added that the project would provide key training and employment opportunities as well as getting young people involved in their community.