Friday 6th December saw the official launch of Bounce Back West Cavan alongside the formal opening of the Belturbet Youth Hub. The launch event celebrated the culmination of three years dedicated hard work by the local community and the collaborative work of several partner agencies.
In October 2016, Cavan Youth Network investigated the emerging needs for young people in Belturbet and the lack of service provision to support the young people of the area. Seed funding was pledged by Cavan Children and Young People’s Services Committees (CYPSC) and together with St. Bricin’s College and Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB), a Youth Needs Analysis was conducted in the area. This involved gathering necessary information and statistics from a range of sources including focus groups with young people from St. Bricin’s College; a youth survey to over 200 young people; CSO, Local and Regional Agency Statistics and a consultation with key stakeholders.
This needs analysis revealed emerging concerns affecting youth in the area which included social isolation of young people, involvement with anti-social behaviour, alcohol consumption, inadequate provision of sporting and other social activities. It transpired that young people felt that there was nothing for them to do in Belturbet outside of school and that they had no safe place to hang out with and meet their friends.
Belturbet Youth Working Group was then established in January 2017 and through a submission to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs – funding was secured to provide on-site services for young people in the area. Bounce Back Youth Service, a project of Youth Work Ireland Cavan Monaghan and Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) was awarded the project and commenced work with the appointment of two detached Youth Work staff and one Youth Resilience worker in August 2017.
Detached work includes youth workers engaging on the streets with young people on key nights in hotspots, linking in with them to see what they want from the service and how to make Belturbet a better place. Resilience work provides young people with the skills and competencies to identify and address their emotions in a positive way. These roles were key in beginning to address the concerns that had been highlighted in the Youth Needs Analysis.
In late 2017 a submission by CMETB, which was supported by Belturbet Youth Interagency Partners and other stakeholders who have a remit for Children and Young People, for a new West Cavan Reformed Youth Targeted Service was successful. Consequently, in March 2018, Bounce Back Youth Service, Youth Work Ireland Cavan Monaghan (YWICM) in partnership with the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) secured the delivery of the new RYFS Service for West Cavan which included a mobile youth service. This involved two Youth Work Ireland Cavan Monaghan staff, alongside a part time ISPCC worker who took up premises alongside Breffni Integrated Building, the Diamond Belturbet.
In consultation with young people on detached work, the youth workers provided a safe and healthy environment for the young people to engage in a weekly sport programme at the Astro Turf in Belturbet on a Friday night and a Junior Youth café for 10-13yr olds was also opened in the Goodstore.
As momentum gathered through agencies and the community working together, Cavan Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) supported a successful submission for the development of a Sporting Hub for Belturbet which commenced in the summer of 2018. To help address the rural isolation of the youth in West Cavan, a new 14-seater Minibus was secured on behalf of the new TYFS West Cavan Project, so that the service could provide their programmes to rurally located and often isolated young people.
All the while, the need for a dedicated Youth Space was being continuously highlighted. The HSE, Cavan County Council in partnership with the Interagency Group supported that need and YWICM took on the responsibility to lead on signing of both leases for new youth Hub. The Old Fire station & Health Centre in Belturbet were identified as a prime location for this space and Interagency members were successful in their bid to raise over €40,000 and draw down grants for the Redevelopment of the Youth Hub. Agencies worked tirelessly to ensure that this space became a welcoming and safe environment for the young people of Belturbet to meet in and it has culminated in the bright and inviting Youth Hub that was launched last Friday.
What needed to be achieved to address the concerns in this community seemed, as stated at the launch by John Kearney, Chief Executive of CMETB, “an ‘Ambitious future’. By putting heads and resources together, this future was possible and could bring about the change that would see the needs of the young people of West Cavan been recognised, valued and prioritised. It is fair to say that this is the beginning of an exciting journey and one which will have far reaching and positive effects for the young people and community of Belturbet for many years to come.”
Speaking at the event, Belturbet native Patricia Boyle (HSE) joined other speakers in celebrating the official launch of the Bounce Back West Cavan project and Youth Hub. “This project is living changing; the efforts of the Bounce Back team continue to change lives for the better and our community benefits as a result. The project will now sit at the heart of our community and will need the support of the community to keep it beating, to make our young people feel valued, welcomed and connected.”