Rural youth working with the local police force to improve their relationship
Galway CYPSC partnered with young people, FORUM Connemara and an Garda Síochána to organise a fun-filled, family bubble soccer playoff in Clifden Co. Galway. Over fifty children and young people, and ten members of the Gardaí (police) took part in a 5-a-side game at Clifden Community School, cheered on by the wider community. This fun-tastic event was the result of consultations carried out by Galway CYPSC with local young people that identified that a negative relationship existed between them and the Gardaí.
“Clifden is one of the biggest policing districts in the Country and until the bubble soccer event, the only engagement we had with young people was when things went wrong… This initiative provided us with a very effective way of building relationships with young people in the area, who now know us by name.”
To begin with Galway CYPSC carried out two consultations with fourteen 15-17 year olds and eight 17-19 year olds. Participants were asked what was good and what was not so good about living in the Clifden area, and what would they like to change. Both groups identified that there was very poor relationships with the local Gardaí.
Guided by the Lundy Model for children and young people’s participation in decision-making Galway CYPSC and FORUM Connemara set about making sure that this issue was raised, heard and addressed. They contacted and met with the regional Garda Superintendent to discuss what young people had said. A visit was then arranged for members of the Gardaí to meet with the young people at their FORUM Clifden Youth Cafe to listen and to discuss the issue and to work together to resolve it. As young people were central to these discussions, their direct input throughout this process was ensured.
After this meeting, young people were invited to tour the Garda station and to play pool there. This enabled young people and Gardaí to get to know each other better. The young people then suggested holding a bubble soccer event between the two groups, to further improve this renewed relationship. The event organisation was youth-led and supported by Galway CYPSC, FORUM Connemara, the Gardaí and Clifden Community School. FORUM captured the event on video.
The success of the event is testament to the improved relationships between young people and Gardaí. Additionally, a young person, a member of the Gardaí and FORUM’s Project Leader gave presentations on the project to Galway CYPSC and to the Board of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency outlining the positive changes in local relationships. Galway CYPSC also intend to carry out focus groups with young people from Clifden to capture how they feel the relationship with Gardaí has improved.
“From talking to the other young people they said that it made a real difference to our relationship… Because we are such a small and rural community, as a young person, I feel it is very important that we all work together as a team. By mixing the Gardaí with the young people and by working together as a team in the bubble soccer event we gave the message that “we’re all on the same team” and we’re all part of the community.”
Galway CYPSC’s consultation with young people from Clifden illustrates just one example of the interagency and consultative work carried out by CYPSC across Ireland. The outcomes reported by Galway CYPSC and FORUM show that small-scale consultations such as this can lead to creative approaches and positive outcomes for children and young people in their own community, enhancing community life for all.
Click here to visit the Galway CYPSC page.
Click here to learn more about the work of FORUM Connemara.
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