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More out-of-school activities needed

THERE is a need for more out-of-school activities for young people, a needs assessment carried out by the Shannon Family Resource Centre has found.

It also found that there was a need for assistance in relation to parenting skills and a need for a better co-ordination of services locally.
The needs analysis of family supports in the Shannon area was carried out between June and Decmber of last year, with specific reference to children and young people. The goal of the needs analysis was to determine the current services being used and to assess the perceived future needs.
A total of 377 completed questionnaires were returned, which represented a 47% return of the number issued.
Regine Stewart is a community development worker at the Family Resource Centre and she said it was necessary to look at what the community wants.
“We started the needs assessment to determine what services are being used by families and what are the perceived future needs of Shannon. It was co-funded by the HSE and ourselves.”
One of the central findings was that there were gaps in the range of activities available to younger people in the town. “It was mostly in relation to teenagers, not as much to younger children. There is a need for activities when they are off school for the summer and at other times of the year when there isn’t school. There doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of things to do. There is no cinema, there is a leisure centre although it was closed for a long time and one thing parents said was that there is a need for things that are affordable,” Ms Stewart said.
One of the conclusions of the report is that there is a need for more support from parents. “Service providers state that children, parents and families present with a broad range of needs, with more than one need often applying to a single family. High on the list of priorities for service providers is parenting skills that would help parents negotiate the many other needs with which they are presenting such as emotional/behavioural problems, learning difficulties, abuse of drugs/alcohol and mental health issues,” the report states.
Commenting on this finding, Ms Stewart said it reflected the views coming from local schools. “ClareCare are running a parenting programme but there is a need for more than that and it came through in the questionnaires. In talking to schools, it was highlighted that there are different types of families now, with break-ups happening and sometimes fathers bringing up children. One person from one of the schools said that there is no help for fathers bringing up children on their own and they may need support, she said.”
Another finding in the report was that the delivery of services needs to be more structured. “Service providers have identified the need for better co-ordination of services using a holistic community approach and while they recognise there is a shortfall in capacity to deliver the ideal range of services, there is belief that this approach can bring significant improvements,” she said.
Ms Stewart said that the Family Resource Centre is offering a lot of services to the community. “There is a great variety. There’s a homework club two days a week during school time. A mother and toddler group on Friday, an international club called Le Chéile, a sit and knit women’s circle, we’ve had a cookery programme, an art and craft circle and a physical activity group for people over 55.”
In 2009, there were over 3,000 individual visits made by members of the public to the centre, along with hundreds of visits by group.
The centre was established as a limited company in 2001. Since May 2004, it has been located in the Respond Community Building in the Rineanna View estate. It receives its core funding from the Family Support Agency to employ a full time project co-ordinator as well as a part-time administrator and a part-time community development worker. It receives additional funding from a number of agencies to deliver activities.


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