Bandon in danger of losing its youth café

Posted on: 15th January, 2018

Category: Headlines

Contributor: West Cork People

Bandon is in danger of losing its youth café if more young people don’t support it.

Funky Fish youth café manager Keith Kingston is appealing to Bandon teenagers to use this valuable asset so they don’t lose it. “If you want somewhere to meet your friends in town, make Funky Fish ‘your place’,” he says. “There’s never been a better time to start using the café, now that it’s quiet.”

Youth projects often alternate between cycles of being busy and quiet. “For the last few years, our crowd has been getting older,” explains Keith. “At the start of the summer, a large group stopped coming, as they were getting too old for the café. Prior to that we had very few younger teens coming; younger and older teens don’t tend to mix well so now we have a gap!”

The main purpose of Funky Fish is to provide a safe, supervised place for teens to meet. The youth café has a strict no alcohol, no drugs policy and there is always at least one youth worker and one volunteer on duty.

The café, which is open to secondary school students, aged from 12 to 18, offers pool, ping-pong, WiFi, Xbox and PS4. It also has a music system, mini-cinema and lots of space with comfortable seating. Hot snacks and soft drinks are also sold on the premises.

Irish professional footballer Conor Hourihane recalls using the café when he was in school in Bandon. “I remember the craic we had there when I was a teenager. It was a great place to hang out. Pool and FIFA, we didn’t want much more.”

Community Garda Damian White says Funky Fish provides an “invaluable service to the young people of Bandon. The youth café is a safe space for them to gather, and through their involvement with the café, I have seen many young people develop a strong community spirit, and they have contributed greatly to the town. Indeed, several young people who have attended the Funky Fish have been honoured at the West Cork Garda Youth Awards, in recognition of their community work.”

A new robotic workshop starts at Funky Fish this month. ‘Messing Around With Robots’ will teach participants how to drive, build and fly robots. Led by Elgan Loane, a local man with a long career in designing and building robots, the workshop will also include the process of 3D printing and flying a drone with a camera and making a video with the footage. If interested, get in touch as soon as possible, as the workshop will only go ahead if there’s enough interest.

Funky Fish is currently open Tuesday to Thursday, 4-6.30pm, Friday, 8-10pm and Saturday, 3-6.30pm and 8-10pm.

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