Community Safety Meeting In Ardglass To Address Drugs Problem And More With Action Plan

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The action plan will be implemented later this year once it has been proofed and agreed by the people of Ardglass and the DDCSP.  Action plans have been rolled out in other communities around the district and have had considerable success. They depend largely on community cooperation …  people working in a cross community spirit, across the generations, and being inclusive. As community self-confidence and self-esteem grows, so does community harmony. [caption id="attachment_19997" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="The first Ardglass meeting organised by the Down District Community Safety Partnership was held in the Ardglass Community Centre to start the process of formulating an action plan with support from local agencies."][/caption] A major topic of discussion at the meeting centred on the use of illegal drugs in the community. One speaker said, “You can get anything in Ardglass, even heroin. Children as young as 12 have taken drugs… mostly cannabis… and you can buy two joints in the village for a fiver.” This sent a shockwave through meeting, many people having suspected the worse, but hearing it from someone who has already been proactive in fighting drugs in another area, drove this cold reality home. He also added that he had been involved with a Belfast advice/counselling agency where an Ardglass parent was distraught with her daughter who had become suicidal after becoming involved with drugs. It was also suggested that the support agency may be interested in providing structured advice for parents in Ardglass targeted to meet the local needs. Also the issue of underage drinking was raised and there was wide concern about premises in Ardglass selling alcohol which was finding its way to underage drinkers. Other areas addressed included road safety (speeding, traffic calming, ramps, pelican crossing), youth boredom, antisocial behaviour, parental control of children, policing issues including patrols from 12-3am at key times at weekend. One speaker said that the police were never in Ardglass at the key time when the issues were unfolding late at night at weekends, and that they were “more interested in giving out tickets for a defective tail light.” Bernie Finnegan, chair of Ardglass Youth Club said, “Parents need to know where their children are at. They have a responsibility to look after them.” Another person added, “We need to knock on people’s doors and tell the parents that their sons or daughters are drinking WKD on the corner . I am up for it.” As the discussion progressed, Councillor Coogan said, “There will be inter-agency work involved in this process with the NIHE and other bodies. A small group of four from Ardglass can attend these informal meetings and make an input. But to sum up, there is a limit to what the DDCSP can achieve and these action plans have worked well in other areas where they have engaged young people and gave them responsibility.” The meeting finished on a positive note. Mark Kent is to shape up the suggestions and draw them up into an action plan which will eventually be agreed  by the Ardglass community.  It will be rolled out with the support of the community addressing where possible the many difficult issues that exist. Keep you eye open in Down News for updates about the Ardglass action plan and why not get involved and support this positive initiative. To make Ardglass a better place to live in requires only a little time, effort and commitment. Many hands make light work. DON’T MISS the Community Safety Open Session in Ardglass Community Centre on Saturday 12th from 2-6pm. (free and fun for the children). Agencies such as the PSNI, Chest Heart and Stroke, Down District Council, Mindwise, NIHE, along with the DDSSP and other agencies will have stands in the community centre. Everyone in welcome, especially all the ethnic minorities who work and live in Ardglass. This event is part of the work of the Ardglass community safety action plan. ]]>

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