Cheers Youth Centre launches future plans

CHEERS Youth Centre in Ballymoney launched their action plans for the next five years at a lunch last Friday.

The Church Street centre which has been operational for 18 years offers a drop-in facility and programmes for young people five evenings and two afternoons each week.

During 2008 Trustees and staff were part of the Ballymoney Council sponsored 'Creating Community Confidence Programme'. The outcome of the programme was CHEERS Strategic Plan 2008-2013 which outlines how the centre will improve the programme on offer. After lunch attended by community leaders, business and church representatives, volunteers and other friends, Mervyn Dunlop, William Calvert, Tommie Linton, John and Margaret Scott outlined the future plans:

1 Recruiting, training and supporting volunteer leaders

2 Developing a focussed programme reaching young people at risk and offering them counselling and the opportunity to challenge their behaviour. This will build on work carried out over the past two years with identified groups and will include the employment of a full time Project Worker.

3 Connecting with other youth and organisations to offer a comprehensive programme of service to the community.

4 Developing the facility to offer a wide range of activity, project and office space.

John and Margaret Scott, who manage the centre, were encouraged by the response from the community.

Margaret commented that it is encouraging to see that people are interested in what we are doing.

"We need the support of the community we are trying to serve and we want to thank the churches, individuals, businesses and a range of organisations that fund and support our work in many ways," she said.

North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey also welcomed the launch.

He added: "Cheers Youth Club plays a vital role in Ballymoney in working with many of our young people. The centre was established initially to get young people off the streets, who have little to do with their time and was established to help address the social, physical and spiritual needs of young people. With the help of a extremely dedicated team, they have sought despite many challenges to fulfil those objectives. I pay tribute to their hard work and commitment.

"Without such a facility in our town, our community would be facing greater social problems. Coupled along with the many other church based youth clubs and groups these organisations play a extremely important role in helping deal with many of the problems facing our young people.

"I trust that the publication of this action plan will further assist the work of Cheers and that it will grow from strength to strength."