SECAD Partnership has played an active role in the planning and ongoing support of two projects My Place Ltd, Midleton and Carrigaline Lions Youth Project Ltd. These are the two largest commitments of grant aid ever allocated by SECAD Partnership.
Without the vision of the Board of Directors to prioritise funding for the development of youth facilities in the early years of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, these examples of vital community infrastructure may not have been completed to support the young people living in those areas.
For a number of years the need for a dedicated ‘youth space’ in the Carrigaline area had been recognised and several attempts had been made to establish premises to run youth based activities. Many young people ‘fell through the net’ in Carrigaline and surrounding areas and did not engage with support services or take part in conventional sporting activities. In response, Carrigaline Lions Club set out to build a purpose built premises dedicated to young people from which to provide a range of activities.
Carrigaline Lions Youth Project Limited was established with a view to developing a Youth Centre in Carrigaline. The group sought Rural Development Programme (RDP) funding to build a new 6,000 sq ft Youth Centre to give the young people of Carrigaline a safe, secure and comfortable place to ‘hang out’ while offering them the opportunity to develop their talents through mentoring and education programmes in a building that would be sustainable in the long term.
SECAD Partnership assisted Carrigaline Lions Youth Project Ltd in preparing their business plan. Discussion took place with other groups who had developed youth projects to learn from their experiences. Critically, SECAD provided financial and non-financial support helped to keep the focus from the beginning of the project.
Local representatives, businesses and non-profit organisations were behind the project and contributed their support through fund raising and time. LEADER funding of €500,000.00 was approved through the Rural Development Programme against an overall total cost of €840,000.00.
Social finance also played a vital role in bringing this project to fruition. Clann Credo – The Social Investment Fund, provided a loan of €290,000 in addition to bridging finance to assist the project in moving forward. The remainder of the finances were raised through local fundraising activities, corporate sponsorship and private donations.
The results of the project is a community owned and dedicated youth and community facility for the area. It is a well-maintained facility that encourages community activity and in particular activity with a youth focus and participation by young people. Crucially, key organisations are working together in support of young people in the area.
In 2007, SECAD Partnership undertook a study entitled ‘Where Do You Go When You Go Out?” The purpose of the study was to identify the needs of young people in the area. The key message from the young people consulted was that there was no dedicated Community and Youth Facility in the town of Midleton. The trend was similar in many parts of the South and East Cork area. SECAD Partnership worked closely with the HSE, Headstrong and other agencies and local representatives at that time to explore options to support young people. This was also a time of huge population expansion across the area, and particularly families with children and teenagers moving to the area.
Early in the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, SECAD’s Board of Directors made a decision to provisionally set aside up to €1m to support the development of youth facilities in the area and development staff actively worked with various youth and community groups who had prioritised these type of projects in order to animate the projects and build the capacity of the groups concerned.
Development of MY Place
Since 2009, groups in Midleton, had explored options to find a building which would be suitable for development as a Youth and Community facility. The Midleton area had one of the higher incidences of youth related anti-social behaviour, suicide and other mental health related presentations to the health services than anywhere else in the country. While there were facilities available for sports activities in the town, there was not a dedicated Youth Facility.
In response to this, Midleton MY Place group was established. SECAD recognised the importance of having community involvement in the planning, development, day to day running and strategic management. MY Place Ltd set a vision to provide recreation, support and development pathways for the wider community of young people in and around Midleton. The group wanted to provide a facility which would be used by young people, yet under suitable supervision and management structure. Instead of building a new premises, the group focused their efforts into refurbishing a key building in the town which had previously been scheduled for demolition.
MY Place Ltd developed:
- A Youth Café for young people to meet in a safe and secure environment;
- Multi-purpose community group facilities;
- A network of support services for young people;
- A quality space for groups and individuals and a range of relevant and education development pathways for young people.
SECAD Partnership funded a part-time facilitator to work with a committee of seven people in planning the project. SECAD also assisted with the costs of the Engineer’s report, which giving an estimation of the costs for upgrading and refurbishing the building.
An architect was taken on to design the building and planning permission was sought. Grant assistance of €330,000 was secured through the RDP (LEADER) Programme towards an estimated cost of €440,000. On approval of planning and completion of the tendering process, a builder was appointed and 1 year later the building was complete.
MY Place Community and Youth Centre
The key challenge encountered by the group was in relation to finance. Whilst the project costs were estimated at €440,000 the actual costs far exceeded this amount, leaving the group with a substantial shortfall and the need to continually raise funds.
Social finance through Clann Credo was a vital financial support in getting this project off the ground. SECAD supported the group in their negotiations with Clan Credo who provided loan and bridging finance facilities, without which the group could not have availed of LEADER funding.
The interagency approach made the project possible particularly the input by Midleton Town Council in purchasing the premises which acted as a major catalyst in kick starting the project. The research undertaken by SECAD provided evidence on which to argue the needs for the facility. The additional support received through SECAD facilitated the group in strategically developing a plan for the centre and RDP grant aid was crucial in making the project possible overall.
The overall major result is achievement of the original purpose, a place for young people to go. There is a dedicated youth facility in Midleton from which quality services are provided to young people in the area. Young people can call by anytime and it is staffed and linked to other youth services. The facility also enables other groups to meet, to train and to provide a range of activities for the local community overall.
The facility was officially opened in September 2015. SECAD has continued its support of MY Place Ltd in terms of maintenance, management and its future sustainability. The group realise that building the facility was only one element of the project. Now that the facility is built, it requires a long term commitment in sustaining and managing the centre.