Carrick Connect’s ‘positive’ impact on anti-social behaviour problem

The Carrick Connect team outside the WheelWorks ChillCart at Marine Gardens, Carrickfergus.
The Carrick Connect team outside the WheelWorks ChillCart at Marine Gardens, Carrickfergus.

A Carrickfergus youth organisation has been praised for its contribution to helping reduce anti-social behaviour in East Antrim.

WheelWorks ChillCart is a social space for hire by organisations who are doing outreach in their community, and is being used as part of a collaboration project by Carrick Connect in partnership with PSNI Carrickfergus and WheelWorks. It is already proving popular with young people in the area.

WheelWorks has two outreach vehicles - the ArtCart and the ChillCart - both are distinctly designed and have been a popular draw at the weekend.

WheelWorks has two outreach vehicles - the ArtCart and the ChillCart - both are distinctly designed and have been a popular draw at the weekend.

Carrick Connect, a not-for-profit organisation,was established in 2014 for the 11-25 years age group and offers a wide range of projects in Carrickfergus.

WheelWorks is a traditional and digital arts organisation established in 1995 that exists to forge creative and inclusive spaces that empower and inspire young people and communities. The two organisations are working in collaboration for Carrick Connect to use WheelWorks ChillCart to offer refreshments and engage young people in activities alternative to antisocial behaviour.

Tracey McNickle, Project co-ordinator with the West Street-based organisation, said: “We have quite a bit going on over the summer. On a Saturday evening from 5pm to 9pm is our project in collaboration with WheelWorks’ ChillCart. We have been able to access this social space through funding from Mid and East Antrim Council.

Jude Pollock, Project coordinator at WheelWorks, said:“We are pleased to have launched our ChillCart vehicle for supporting organisations working on the frontline with young people in their community throughout Northern Ireland. It offers a safe, warm place for organisations to meet with young people out on the street, to offer support or even a warm drink. We are delighted to be working on our first collaboration project with Carrick Connect and Carrickfergus PSNI to assist this important piece of outreach in their area.”

And it is one Carrickfergus PSNI is keen to see more people use. In a recent social media post, police stated: “The WheelWorks’ ChillCart was back in Carrick tonight in collaboration with Carrick Connect. I want to say thank you to them for their help in trying to entertain our young people and in helping to deter our young people from getting involved in anti-social behaviour (ASB).

“Remember, the ChillCart will be in Carrick every Saturday night over the summer, there are always alternatives to ASB. Make the right choice!”

WheelWorks ChillCart is situated every week at Marine Gardens and all young people and community are welcome. It has hot and cold drinks free of charge with refreshments and outdoor sports and activities going on in the big green.

Tracey said: “We have initiated the project with WheelWorks to use their ChillCart with the aim of reducing anti-social behaviour in our town and it has been a great success the past three weeks. Our numbers of young people engaging are averaging over 75 per evening with lots of other passersby stopping to inquire about the services Carrick Connect offer.

“We also have CCTASTIC on a Tuesday night at 7pm which is an inter-generational project with our young people and residents at Carrick Manor. They have been learning how to knit, dance and been partaking in quizzes and activities that help bring our generations together.

“On a Wednesday evening 7pm, from 16 West Street, we have STROLLTASTIC. This is a community walk open to everyone who fancies a bit of company and a dander. Our drop in services are Thursday and Friday evenings from 7pm to 9pm. We offer a safe and comfortable space for young people to relax and be themselves.”

Carrick Connect also teams up with Translink on youth engagement project RAILTASTIC. “RAILTASTIC is our outreach project from 5pm to midnight on a Saturday night. We work alongside NIR and travel on the trains interacting with young people and settling frictions that may occur due to alcohol intake. This has been effective as has been confirmed by train staff.”

Carrick Connect offers too a mentoring service for young people. It can be contacted through its Facebook page or by emailing tmcnickle73@gmail.com

Tracey said: “Carrick Connect Counselling Service has fully trained accredited counsellors who work in the schools and out of school on a regular basis. Could I also add that I am so thankful for every single one of our volunteers who give of themselves wholeheartedly because they care. We love what we do and want that to reflect in our work and positive attitudes.”

Carrick Connect is a not-for-profit organisation. Check out its Facebook page for news and future events.

If you are interested in hiring the ChillCart or keen to know more about the work of WheelWorks check out their website: www.wheelworksarts.com