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Dungannong Youth Resource Centre

The current centre opened 1989 and was newly refurbished in 2011, but the youth centre itself has been serving young people in Dungannon for 40 years. It is both a youth centre and a community centre, providing services in Dungannon neighbourhood renewal areas, as well as working in partnership with groups in Belfast, Lisburn and Newry.

Open six days a week, the centre aims to serve the diverse local community, and make its facilities available to any group that wants to use them. Currently they have a membership base of around 300-plus young people, which continues to grow.

In a changing local environment, the centre has worked to create a space for both local and ethnic minority groups to meet, learn and grow. They work with the local STEP and Belong groups, as well as SELB, Cedar, Age Well NI, Disability Network, Opportunity Youth, the PSNI and local community groups and forums. The Centre has also been working with the Department for Social Development and the Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership helping isolated vulnerable and marginalised young people and adults in local areas of social deprivation.

Groups using the space include Irish language and culture groups,  men and women’s Gaelic sports, as well as sports and recreation clubs that are encouraged to use and share their skills in respects of soccer, rugby, hockey, table tennis, basketball and in-line hockey skating. There are also various dance and drama groups using the extensive facilities as well as local bands using the music and sound recording systems in the music room.

Community Leadership Programme

Dungannon Youth Resource Centre applied for the Community Leadership program after a meeting between the Leader in Charge of the centre and the Management Committee. It was agreed the CLP would be an excellent opportunity to review the position of Dungannon Youth Resource Centre’s services within the community of Dungannon as well as exploring the management processes and direction within the organisation.

The main focus for the action learning project is to look at developing better communication and planning with the Management Committee and service users. The group also wanted to develop a strategic plan and look at their sustainability with representatives from the service user group.

The centre are also planning to create, develop and support a peer-led youth group, and hope that by developing the young people’s skills, and helping them explore and understand how to plan for the future as well as guiding them on SMART action planning, that they will begin to realise the importance of planning, participation and achievement with the ultimate result being two of the group starting to sit on the Management Committee as full members.

By doing this the group hope to change the management committee, as it has been the same for 12 years, adding in new voices and new ideas which will invigorate some areas of change and produce strategic outputs that will complement the work that has already gone into the centre’s growth and development.

Experience of the programme

When asked their thoughts about the programme so far, Kevin Quigley, leader in charge said, “There have been great opportunities for us to meet as part of this process and engage with each other as a management team. It has given us a chance to really understand the roles and responsibilities we have within the centre.

He added, “It has helped us strengthen our values and belief in the services we provide, and through the CLP round table events and the chance for two of our CLP group to study on the University of Ulster course, we have been able to take a more in depth look at some of the theory and practices behind the work that we do as well as helping us refine the administrative and governance of our internal systems.”

Working with the young people using the centre was a key aim of the group and they have found that it has helped them to identify keen, interested, motivated young people who have pride in their centre and community and who have the ability to establish and keep open communication links between management and the service users.

It has also given the group the capacity to develop the skills of some of the centre users who have shown interest and pride as valued citizens of Dungannon in the centre, and who have a belief in their community and others but not necessarily a belief in their own skills.

Kevin added, “The programme is proving to be a huge learning and developmental tool for us in assessing what works and what does not within our management process and governance and is helping us to evaluate the strengths we possess, as well as refining and or changing things that are not working so well, so we can ensure successful outputs and outcomes to benefit all our service users as well as the management committee.”

In terms of negative aspects of the programme the group found, in common with other participants, that finding the time to work on the programme and the action learning project, as well as carrying on with day-to-day work, or in the case of volunteer management committee members, their work outside the centre, has been a challenge, but one they have been able to meet.

Progress to date

As it says above, the groups’ action learning project is about developing and forging closer links with service users, developing their management processes and governance, as well as identifying core areas of work, and areas for sustainability, through the creation of a focused strategic plan.

The group has been established and is working with the leader in charge of the centre to understand the roles and expectations as well as the commitment not only for the duration of the project but beyond.

Kevin Quigley said, “It has reinforced the centre’s ethos of 'Being Made By Young People for All Young People', as is truly representative of the cross section of youth who use the centre in respect of socio and economic, gender, educational and ethnic status.”

The project is now moving into young people’s preparation, as well as planned meetings with the whole group in June and July to reinforce both the importance of this opportunity as well as the time scale and areas of decision making that will occur. The meetings will also help forge links with all the people involved, enabling a more open and concentrated environment for development during the  residential and creation event planned for September 2013.

Final Thoughts

“We are involved in this process so that we create a legacy of engaging with young people at the core of our community to create an outlook; one that has substance, integrity and stability. We hope by the end of this process this is the case and that our ideas and outlook become a reality. Our forward momentum thus far is strong and to have the additional support from IFI, NICVA and the CLP project has helped us refine and focus on what is important - to ensure that the service delivery and management of this is of the highest standard.”