In December 2001, a drop-in centre for young people opened its doors in Ballymoney.
The centre eventually became CHEERS Youth Centre and 25 years later it still offers support to hundreds of young people regularly.
A number of events are planned to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of CHEERS Youth Centre’s work in Ballmoney.
On January 25 2017, any young people, former volunteer helpers, interested people, past members, and supporters of CHEERS are invited to call in between 7.30 and 10pm. The current leadership team of John Scott, Margaret Scott and Tommie Linton plus current volunteers will be delighted to see people who used the centre at any time over the past 25 years.
In 1991, a number of youth leaders from some of the church youth clubs in the town recognised that many young people did not use the church youth activities or uniformed youth programmes and instead used some of the public houses and three electronic amusement arcades which were in the town at that time. This, together with the political climate at the time had the potential to contribute to anti-social behaviour by young people. Interested churches set up a steering group to seek a possible response to the issue. The Drop-In, as CHEERS was known as in those early days, was born in the vacant Ballymoney Football Club Social club in Victoria Street.
Fifteen years later as the organisation began to look for more suitable premises, a former nightclub in Church Street became available for rent. Since then these premises have been the base for a model of youth work which is supported by both statutory bodies and grant awarding Trusts and Foundations.
CHEERS is a Charity operating on a budget of around £80,000 per year. Approximately £30,000 of this comes from Education Authority grants but the rest is raised by the centre team of voluntary directors, leaders and staff. The current directors are Mervyn Dunlop, Terry Shawe, Tony Morrison, Stephen Currie, Peter Crooks, Muriel Crooks, William Crymble and Clive Anderson. They would like to thank all who have assisted CHEERS in the last 25 years.
Full story online at www.ballymoneytimes.co.uk