By Jay Bobinac
This weeks Volunteer Recruitment event at the Greystones Youth Cafe at Tiglin’s Coolnagreina Centre was the Greystones social event par excellence.
St. Patrick’s School Principal Rachel Harper and the fantastic youth cafe team organised an informational event where all those wishing to get involved with the youth cafe were welcome to come down to Coolnagreina and sign up to get involved.
Some of the youth club teenagers warmly welcomed the volunteers. They inspired everyone by sharing what the cafe meant to them while giving everyone plenty of food for thought regarding the lack of facilities for teenagers in the area. Their positivity shone through as they shared many fantastic ideas for the team to try and implement in the cafe. The Rise @ the Cove team members, Sean and Gavin, kept the cafe atmosphere going by providing baked goods and hot beverages while volunteers Genevieve and Rachel gave a presentation on how to get involved.
There is a lack of places for the young people in Greystones to avail of at the moment; this is what The Greystones Youth Cafe wishes to change. Therefore, we are asking the community to get behind the cafe by volunteering their time or sharing any particular skills they may have that might relate to young people. Ross McParland explains, “Brilliant atmosphere in the restaurant last evening where we learnt that volunteering could be in many different areas, not just supervision. These events caught my interest, coming from a theatre background. I hope we can host special social events in Whale Theatre, too, as treats for the volunteer group.“
Everyone that wishes to get involved may contact Rachel or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. As Rachel explained, “similar to a school, the youth cafe must follow stringent child protection policy procedures; everyone who wishes to get involved must go through an interview process, get Garda vetted, and complete Children First Training. But don’t let this intimidate you; it’s a reasonably straightforward process.”
The Greystones Youth Cafe is open twice a week; on Wednesday, 3.00 PM – 5.00 PM and Friday, 7.00 PM – 9.00 PM. Rachel says they would love to see the cafe as “a place for the entire community to get involved”; moreover, she would love to “see it open as much as possible for our young people”.
With that in mind, Rachel explained: “we would love to open the cafe a few extra nights, and we’re not too rigid; any skill could be put to practice; a couple of the suggestions were to do study sessions on Monday nights, those training to become teachers could get involved in this.”
Dearbhla Murphy commented, “As a recent newcomer to Greystones, I was a little apprehensive about turning up at the Volunteer Evening at Greystones Youth Café not knowing anyone, but there was no need to be so! Aubrey, Rachel & the team were so welcoming and encouraging. Last night’s introduction was fun, inspiring and informative & I’m very excited to get involved with such a positive, upbeat group & making some new friends too!”
This comes at a time when youth are faced with adverse challenges. A 2019 study by Dublin City University surveyed 79 post-primary schools in which 5,500 teenagers participated, demonstrating that 4 out of 10 teenagers reported symptoms of depression. On average, teenage girls scored higher.
On a more optimistic note, the chairman of Tiglin, Aubrey McCarthy, noted, “What an amazing night seeing the community come together to build something special for the youth of Greystones. What has been a long hard slog to get planning, fire certs etc., has finally resulted in a multi-purpose building that the young people can call their own. Tiglin is delighted to be part of this community initiative. Huge appreciation must go to Rachel Harper and her amazing team of volunteers.”
As Aubrey mentioned, the youth cafe comes from many years of work. What was started years ago by a small group of people has become a place for all of the youth of Greystones from all socio-economic backgrounds, bridging the gap between school and home life in their community. Fair play to Aubrey, Phil, Rachel and everyone from Tiglin for facilitating and guiding all those who wish to be a part of this new vision.
Opening its doors in October of 2022, the youth cafe has been visited by many local celebrities, such as Niall Breslin “Bressie”, a well-known advocate for addressing mental health for young people, Steve and Dave, lifestyle gurus and healthy living champions from the Happy Pear. It has hosted engaging events like the Local Young Scientists Exhibition. Moreover, the Cafe has been supported by the locals and endorsed by The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris TD, Local Politician Jennifer Whitmore and the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.
“The youth cafe is a fabulous space for young people, and I love that it is community-led. There is a real sense of care for the young people of Greystones, and the youth-guided approach will be so beneficial for the next generation of young leaders in the community. ” – Lynne O’Connor, Coordinator Greystones Family Resource Centre
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. The night showed that there are loads of ways to get involved and bring skills to help create a safe and engaging space for our kids- from helping with homework to mentoring with computers or other crafts. And it’s a great way to connect with other adults/parents and build community good too”. – Barry Ryan