A new state of the art youth centre has opened in Derry’s city centre.
Young people, local community workers and business owners were involved in the establishment of the new space which it’s believed will be a vital service for young people from right across the North West.
The Education Authority officially opened the ‘Our Space’ facility on Friday past in a prime location in the city centre at Guildhall Square.
The Our Space facility for young people was established after consultation with young people and key stakeholders including Derry City and Strabane District Council, PCSP and voluntary sector youth service partners, which indicated that young people who gathered in the city centre to meet friends, primarily at the weekend, had nowhere to go, and were at risk of becoming involved in risk-taking behaviours.
The Centre is open during the week to offer a drop-in facility, in a safe and supportive environment, for young people in the 14-17 age range who do not traditionally avail of Youth Service provision. In addition to this provision, young people can also avail of accredited and unaccredited developmental programmes in areas such as health and well-being, good relations, inclusion and employability skills.
Speaking at the event, Sharon O’Connor, EA chairperson said: “I am delighted to officially open ‘Our Space’, and I wish the staff, volunteers and young people success in this new venture. I am confident this facility will have a positive impact on the young people in the city for many years to come. I am especially pleased that the Education Authority, supported by the Department of Education, has been able to provide the funding for this new model of support. ”
Liam Curran, EA Deputy Head of Youth, said: “Programmes delivered by the Youth Service vary, as do the locations where young people meet. Young people can be engaged on the streets, in community and youth centres, schools and church halls, on boats or mountains. However, Our Space is the first city centre provision that has been developed to engage young people who would not normally participate in youth service activity. It offers an alternative programme which is different from, yet complementary to those that currently exist in the wider youth service and is a departure from the traditional youth club setting.”
He added: “The drop-in centre is a safe and neutral venue and acts as both a place where young people can meet and a place that promotes the ethos of participation, acceptance and understanding of others and the testing of values and beliefs.”
Our Space opens six days and evenings per week with the participation of young people at its core. Through outreach work, partnership working and the targeting of groups of common interest, the Youth Service will recruit young people to participate in educational programmes and social events such as ‘open mic’ nights.
Youth Advisory committee member Lauren Friel compered Friday’s event, with opening and closing remarks conducted by the recently elected chairperson of Our Space Youth Advisory Group, Patrick Maguire.