A youth club for young people with disabilities is to become a full time club for the first time in it’s seven year history.
BUD Club, organised by the Liberty Consortium, ran for two nights a week since it’s inception.
Now, thanks to a partnership with Long Tower Youth Club and funding from the Education Authority Youth Service, the club will be on four times a week.
The BUD Club is for young people with disabilities, aged between 15 and 24-years-old, and aims to enhance their personal development and social opportunities.
The club, which takes place in the Hub at Northside, also provides a safe, fun and inclusive environment for the young people to make friendships.
There will also be a BUD Juniors club to provide the same opportunities to children aged between 11 and 14.
Gavin Melly, Social Inclusion Manager at the Playtrail, said they are ‘really excited’ about the extended provision.
“When we first set up BUD Club seven years ago it was all about inclusion. Many of these young people never got to go out socially with their friends, it was always with a parent, carer or sibling. The club was born from that.”
Gavin said he always had aspirations of making the club a full time service because it is always so busy.
“I wanted a full time service to meet these young people’s needs. We have been doing a bit of work with Long Tower Youth Club and they helped us secure extra funding through the EA which has allowed us to extend the hours.”
Gavin explained this will be a pilot programme to see if there is the demand for BUD Club to become a permanent full time youth club.
“We will also be launching BUD juniors for 11-14-year-olds and we are very excited about this because there really isn’t anything else out there for young people with disabilities in this age group.”
There is an application process for the club and it cannot cater for young people who have personal care needs. The club leaders are also unable to administer medication.
Gavin revealed that they will also be recruiting young people to become ‘buddies’ and these young people will receive training in a number of areas including disability and equality.
“We have run buddy programmes before and four of them are now full time staff members. It is an invaluable experience for anyone who wants to work in the caring profession.”
He said there has been huge interest in the juniors club so far.
“We have had over 40 phone calls about it, which just goes to show the need out there. It is available to young people with a range of disabilities, for example autism, physical disabilities or visual impairment, as long as the young people meet the criteria.
“So many people have been waiting for something like this for years. We are excited for it, but nervous as well as we will be offering longer services right across the week.”
The BUD Juniors club begins in January.
For more information about the groups or for details on how to volunteer or apply contact Gavin at the Playtrail on 02871368173.