Larne youth podcast looks to past and future

The Millbrook group visited a recording studio.
The Millbrook group visited a recording studio.

Visions of Millbrook in the years ahead as well as memories of times past have been the focus for a unique project in the village over the past few months.

The end result has been a podcast which is being launched in the village this week, with everyone welcome along to the community centre on Wednesday, July 5 at 7.30pm.

Luke practises his interviewing skills.

Luke practises his interviewing skills.

The initiative was the brainchild of local woman Kirsty Campbell and a group of young people who meet at a weekly drop-in at the local community centre

But it was also part of a longer term project in the area.

The podcast has a focus group of locals talking about their memories as well as individuals outlining their hopes for the village and community life into the future.

Kirsty, who is a volunteer for the local Church of the Nazarene, which meets in the centre, has been working with her husband for the past six years providing the drop-in centre for local young people.

The Millbrook group visited Cool FM's studio.

The Millbrook group visited Cool FM's studio.

Kirsty sought funding for the social history podcast project, and was successful in the Big Lottery/Bauermedia and Redeeming Our Communities initiative, which aims to work towards safer communities.

This resulted in Downtown Radio’s Kirstie McMurray working with local young people in recording material from locals and learning the skills of editing to produce the 15 minute podcast.

Those involved interviewed older people in the community and heard how Millbrook had changed over the years, having once had mills, a school and shops.

The result is the podcast “Millbrook Uncovered” and Kirsty hopes that it will help provide a springboard for other initiatives relating to village renewal.

Among those who have given their support is local councillor Gregg McKeen and Ken Nelson, Director of Ledcom, which is based at Millbrook.

“The editing took place at the Downtown Radio studios and it gave young people good experience from the start to the final edit of the podcast,” Kirsty said.

The project received £10,000 in funding from the Big Lottery Fund and Kirsty says that while it was “looking at the past, it is also very much thinking about the future.”

She said that one thing which all those who participated had in common was that they all saw Millbrook as home.

“The consensus also was that ‘it takes a village’ in terms of change, everyone needs to work together,” she added.

Keeva Watson, Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) NI Coordinator said, “Redeeming Our Communities Northern Ireland (ROCNI) were delighted to be part of the Millbrook Social History project in partnership with Bauer Academy. ROCNI have been working with and supporting the work of the Millbrook ROC Drop-in for several years,”

“When the opportunity arose to work with Bauer Academy, the drop-in at Millbrook was the ideal project. There was a committed group of young people led by three volunteers who wanted to learn new skills, have new experiences and make a positive contribution to their local community. The Millbrook Uncovered podcast has done just that,” she said.

Ms Watson said that young people’s confidence and self-esteem had grown as they stepped out of their comfort zones to participate in the project.

“Recording and editing in the CoolFM studios is not something many youth groups get the opportunity to do – those Saturday afternoons in the studio will stick with them for the rest of their lives. But most importantly, the project gave the young people the opportunity to meet other members of their local community, to value the memories and journey the area had been on and to recognise that others had the same hopes and dreams for the place they call home,” she said.

David Corscadden, Head of Partnerships at Bauer Academy said, “The Bauer Academy, based at Cool FM in Northern Ireland, delivers training that develops the skills employers are looking for such as confidence, problem solving and creativity. When Keeva approached us about the possibility of doing something in NI we looked at a way of empowering the group of young people in Millbrook to work together in a positive way within their community.

“The project was designed to get the young people critically thinking about their area, discovering new ways of doing things and having conversations about how the area could be regenerated. The Podcast provides a reflective vehicle for conversations to start within Millbrook about what sort of community do the residents want to see and uncover the collective view of what the potential is. The overriding sentiment coming from the project is that many of the residents are proud of the area and truly see it as home. The Academy has had the pleasure of working with the Millbrook Drop-in team for some time now and we’ve found the young people a pleasure to work with and a credit to the area” he added.