Youth Cafe numbers almost doubled
Since the Mitchelstown Youth Cafe first opened in December 2009, their membership numbers have almost doubled from 50 to now having 90 and they predict that this will rise to 100 before the summer. Just last week, they had to clear out a store room upstairs to use it as an additional space for the youth cafe members.
Ailbe Coleman explained that they get children from Mitchelstown, Ballyporeen, Kildorrery, Kilworth and other surrounding areas and that they aim the youth cafe at children from sixth class and first year, to bring them through their teenage years, with the youth cafe as an amenity and support that they will have behind them.
"This is the one place outside of sports or school that the students from the three secondary schools can come together and get to know each other."
Mr Coleman added that they also offer leadership courses, which are suitable for both early school leavers and students, to add to their CV and give them more diverse experiences and qualifications.
"This means that while the 16, 17 or 18 year olds are not involved in the youth cafe activities, they could be doing the courses and some of them have now come back in their 20's to volunteer there.
The youth cafe membership is €20 a year and then €2 each Saturday night for two hours. There is a space for them to chat together, play the Wii or PS, use the internet, play pool and do games, but all of the money from membership and fundraisers throughout the year goes straight back into the youth cafe to continue the services there.
Mr Coleman explained that young people often have a problem with figures of authority, but with the youth cafe, the drugs worker is based upstairs and they have a healthy relationship with Community Garda, John Hennessy. This promotes a healthy attitude towards figures of authority and helps to break down the barriers, he said.
The youth cafe has up to 20 volunteers and Mr Coleman said that without these, the cafe would not be what it is today, as it their hard work and dedication which makes it all work.
"When you are doing something for nothing, you want to do it right and we have really dedicated volunteers of all ages with anything from teachers and farmers to hairdressers, all from the community and they are people that the young people can go to for advice or have as role models.
"We are always looking for volunteers and especially if people have a specific skill or area of interest which they can bring to the youth cafe."
Mr Coleman said that when they get calls from parents about how much their child enjoys the cafe, it is a true testament to the hard work of the volunteers and it shows that the time spent in the youth cafe is having a positive effect on their home life.
The youth cafe also link in with Foroige for annual trips and they would link in with groups from other areas. Also their Youth Committee would organise inter-club events, so that being part of the youth cafe gives the young people a large network of friends from their own area and surrounding areas.
"They all treat this place like home and over the years, we have listened to what they want and tweaked it to suit them as we went along and it seems to work."
Friday 1st March 10:44am