Youth service celebrates 30 years of helping community

By Maurice Garvey

THIRTY years ago, a group of concerned residents from various parts of Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard came together to campaign for the establishment of a youth service in the community.

 At the time there were serious anti-social issues in the area which resulted in the tragic loss of two young children on the corner of Ballyfermot Road and O’Hogan Road, by a joyrider, according to Gerry McCarthy, Ballyfermot Youth Service Manager.

w pg 2 Balltfermot Youth Service

Denise, Joanne, Jodi, Vincent, Paula, Brigid, Imelda, Marie, Denise and Estefaria 

BYS, which is celebrating 30 years serving the needs of young people, said the tragic incidents in the late 1980s led to huge amounts of lobbying on various government departments and politicians.

According to BYS’s annual report, the youth population at the time was over 7,000 with one swimming pool and a small number of voluntary-run youth clubs.

In order for the area to receive funding, a requirement was that a limited company be formed, and voluntary groups came together to form Ballyfermot Youth Federation Co Op Ltd, with an initial grant of €40,000 in June 1988.

After establishing a centre on Decies Road with two youth workers, the service slowly grew and developed services in different parts of Ballyfermot.

Mr McCarthy, who was a member of the first co-op committee, said the late nineties saw a major investment by the Local Drugs Task Force in youth provision, led by the Dominican Sr Liz.

“The co-op changed its name to Ballyfermot Youth Service and again re-invigorated itself in the provision of services for young people. The establishment of the Outdoor Education Centre in Park West, Info centre in Drumfinn, Oakwood Residential Centre in Wicklow followed and it became one of the leading organisations in Ireland promoting European Erasmus Programmes for young people.

“BYS have been fortunate in having excellent chairpersons over the years who have had the vision and clear commitment to Ballyfermot. Vincent Jackson, Mary Daly, Sr Liz and Ann O’Brien. Over the years the service has developed and new members of the management committee have given their time and energy free. We are thankful to all of them. We are also fortunate to have staff who are committed to the ideals of the organisation and work flat out for young people. It’s a testament to their commitment and I look forward to the next 30 years for BYS.”

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