Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Since the Westminster election this blog and my good friend Fra McCann have spent some time meeting with many of the local community groups in the Lower Falls.

The amount of work that is carried out in this area by a wide range of organisations and agencies is quite extraordinary.

Some of it is aimed at helping the elderly, some at lone parents, and some at providing facilities and resources for young people.

The Falls Youth Providers represents 10 different groups who have come together to co-ordinate their efforts and to ensure that scare resources are spread more evenly across the community.

They do a remarkable job under difficult circumstances and you cannot but be impressed by their dedication and commitment to young people.

They want to create a safe and secure environment for all the people of the Falls, but especially the young people.

The challenges and difficulties facing young people today are enormous.

Poverty, drugs, alcohol, physical and mental abuse, bullying, unemployment, inadequate training and education programmes to meet specific needs, peer pressure and much, much more create a wide range of problems.

Despite this the overwhelming majority of our youth are decent, hard working, conscientious young people who act responsibly and who are a credit to their families and to our communities.

There are some who are not.

But they are the exception not the rule and our task is to reach out to them and to be inclusive of them.

It is also true that across Belfast there are insufficient resources available for youth provision.

In addition funding and resources are not always targeted at those in most need. There are a range of different bodies, voluntary and statutory and community, all working with young people but not always working together in an integrated fashion to an integrated strategy.

Frequently they are forced to compete against each other for the very limited resources available for youth provision.

And very few young people have ever been consulted about what sort of services they would like.

The Falls Youth Providers structure is one example of what can be achieved when good people with the right instincts and who really want to help young people, come together and co-operate.

This needs to happen more frequently and in more districts.

But to achieve that there is an urgent need for additional financial support for youth services not just in Belfast but also right across the north.

In a time of economic crisis and demands by a conservative government in London for cuts, this is going to be very hard and a major battle lies ahead.

But for July and August the focus of the Falls Youth Providers is on producing a summer scheme that will be inclusive, open to all young people and be as exciting and engaging as they can make it.

There is a wide variety of programmes available, including trips to Newcastle; Carnfunnock Park, outside Larne; the Museum; the Zoo; the parks; and there will be swimming and football and face painting and art and BBQ’s and on August 8th Féile an Phobail will be holding its ‘It’s a Knockout’ competition in the Dunville Park and up to 30 local teams will be competing.

There will also be a week of intense activity in Grosvenor Recreation Centre for young boys and girls interested in Gaelic games. In a remarkable initiative 3 local GAA clubs – Dwyers, MacDermotts, Davitts will unite with the support of the Ulster Council’s development project in west Belfast.

All in all a packed summer programme.

This blog had the honour of launching this programme at the Falls Providers Youth Awards in Belfast City Hall earlier this week. This is the sixth year of this unique initiative.

The Awards celebrate the achievements of young people from the Falls across a wide range of categories, from leadership, sport, training, citizenship, participation, health and well being, culture and education.

The organisers deserve our thanks. They do wonderful work. So does everyone from all quarters of the Youth section
From our schools and sporting organisations, parents and grandparents, the voluntary and community sector who bring out the best of the Falls. It is they – the people of the Falls, and in particular the young people who make it such a good place.

1 comment:

Timothy Dougherty said...

The road of the hedgerows, The Falls road to Beechmount ave a nice bit of a drive and the people,wonderful. Your children are the new voter of the future. History is nice to live in. "The great synthesizer who alters the outlook of a generation, who suddenly produces a kaleidoscopic change in our vision of the world, is apt to be the most envied, feared, and hated man among his contemporaries." Loren Eiseley. It seems many things come with the job, Gerry, a kind wish of luck to you.