Vision


A healthy community in which people can live life to the full.


Mission


To develop and maintain a centre of excellence which delivers holistic support to both individuals and the community of the Monkstown area.


Values


As a group we are motivated by Christian principles and values particularly those that relate to social justice.
Therefore we seek to embody these specific values in our business:


Integrity

We empower our staff, volunteers and the wider community to set the agenda when defining needs within the community.

Transparency

We are fully accountable and open with our finances and complete them with honesty and accuracy.

Valuing People

All people who come in contact with us will be treated with dignity, respect and fairness in a confidential and sensitive manner.

Support

We think that building community spirit is vital.

Inclusivity

We strive at all times to be respectful and accepting of those with other faiths or none.

Encouragement

We want all people to aspire to attain their potential and maintain a good level of health.

Quality

We strive to deliver professional services, with trained staff in a safe and welcoming environment at all times.

Stephen Acheson

Chair


Alan Taylor

Secretary


Nigel Beattie

Treasurer


Susan Hamilton

Board Member


Cliff Lyons

Board Member


The Care Centre

In 1993 a group of Christians from the local Monkstown Churches had the vision of setting up an organisation that would show in a practical way the love Jesus Christ had for people. These people were Tommy Kernohan, Rev Adrian McCartney the local church of Ireland Rector, Bill Rogers, Heather Mullan, and Alan Taylor. They met in the home of Tommy. The vision was to provide a Care Centre where people could come and talk out problems. Tommy had been finding that when at church people leaving off children or coming to events would be keen to unburden problems. Alan had been the COGS Youth Club leader and had seen the need for a place were young people could come ‘hang out’ like a non alcoholic bar. The Centre would be led and staffed by Christian people, who would have the opportunity to listen.

A start up grant of £15,000 was given by Making Belfast Work, to purchase a building for the Care Centre. Planning permission was obtained for setting a temporary building beside the ‘Old School’ on the grass field at the star entrance Monkstown Gardens. I remember going to a meeting with Tommy Kernoghan and Adrian McCartney, where opposition for this development was expressed by the residents who said they were not prepared to have a centre where druggies would be leaving syringes around an area were children would be playing. The Green Hut was then seen as another possible site with a building already there.
The Green Hut had been a youth facility run by the NEELB for 16+ .There was constant pressure on Susan Bennett not to admit 11 to 16 year olds because the Bridge Youth Club in Monkstown Community School catered for their needs. The Green Hut club was being run down as it was not shown to be cost effective. Approaches were made to the NEELB for use of the Green Hut. I remember another meeting with Newtownabbey Councillors who were concerned about the loss of a community facility and our credibility. Subsequently the NEELB gave permission for the Care Centre to use the building when their Youth Facility closed in July 1994. The building was eventually leased to the Care Centre for community work.

The Care Centre started to recruit volunteers for the work. These meeting included training by a Pastor on basic listening skills/ counselling. The applicants were then interviewed and completed a Taylor Johnston temperament test, and screened before becoming Care Centre Volunteers. At a General Meeting the Management Committee was elected, Chairman Tommy Kernoghan, Vice Chairman Alan Taylor, Secretary Heather Mullan, Treasurer Anne Beattie, along with Bill Rogers, Roger Skelton and Evelyn McAuley. The local Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, and Church of Ireland Ministers Rev John Seawright, Pastor Humphreys, Rev Desmond Curran, and Rev Adrian McCartney were permanent members of the Management Committee.
From September 1994 to June 1995 Care Centre volunteers were divided into three groups. Flyers were produced and distributed to every house in Monkstown, and the Centre was opened every Thursday evening. The number of people who came for help over that year could have been counted on one hand. During that year further training on listening skills was led by Brian McCauseland. On receiving funding from NIVT the Management Committee recruited Miss Ros Workman, as Community Development Officer on a three-year contract. In September that year after major re-decoration and equipping the Care Centre was officially opened by Lady Mayhew.

In 1995 during Walk of 1000 Men two teams of 12 men arrived in Monkstown. The youth events introduced many of the local young people to Jesus Christ. Captain Neville Barnes organised the follow up in the Care Centre, and Alan and Margaret Taylor began the Friday night drop in bar for young people. The ‘Christian’ young people came to this along with others from the area who never entered a church. Numbers were good and soon became a problem. There were many ‘difficult’ customers who were intent on creating trouble. The need for this facility was very evident and was perhaps the big success of the Care Centre.
It was difficult to staff as the clientele were young people who had no discipline and were good at annoying leaders. Young leaders found it difficult to handle, but a reliable group of leaders began to emerge such as Janice McCalmont, Ivor Copeland, and junior leaders Alastair Campbell, Peter Beattie, Philip Taylor, and others on a more temporary basis.

Development of Youth Work and full time worker. In February 1997 the Development Officer contract expired. At that time we selected Alan Johnston who has been with us since. Alan’s first week was notable since a £400 hi-fi ‘walked’ out of the Centre, but was tracked down and recovered shortly after.

At the end of 1997 we had received funding equally from Rank Trust and Children in Need for a full time youth worker. David Thomas was employed for three years. With the two full time workers in the Care Centre the work developed among the young people with more time being spent with a small number of young people. The work showed little rewards, the attitudes of the users became less hostile and even developed to a certain respect for the centre and especially Alan and David’s commitment to them. The commitment to anything from these users was very low. Watersports events were organised and despite an initial enthusiasm when the day came only two went.

The death of Tommy Kernoghan was a sad blow to us. Tommy had been the driving force throughout the Care Centre’s development, and could not be replaced.

In Tommy’s memory the Committee took up the challenge to progress what Tommy had started.

But that is a further story!

Did you know?

  • Monkstown was once known as Ballynamanagh (Irish for ‘town of the monks’).
  • Though we have three churches in the town today, historical records show the existence of even more – dating as far back as 400BC.
  • The ‘newest’ church/abbey contained a graveyard which was still in use up to the mid-1900′s – yes, there was a Monkstown graveyard!
  • Even more interesting is the story of King Fergus of Scotland, who is reportedly buried (some say with his treasure) near the old abbey:The story goes that the King suffered from leprosy and came here because he had heard of a river, famous for its medicinal properties. Unfortunately, the king never made it to the river, for his ship was wrecked on a rock off the Irish coast, giving rise to the name “Carrickfergus” (previously known as Krag’fergus – Irish for ‘rock of Fergus’ – where the castle stands today). Monks from the Abbey found Fergus’ body on the beach and buried it in the grounds of the Abbey.
  • Does anyone remember the old mushroom-shaped stone in the grounds of Monkstown Church (the white church) at the corner of Monkstown Road and Jordanstown Road)? I think everyone in the town has stood on top of it at some stage in their childhood! Well, this stone was actually a mill stone, from an old Corn mill that once operated in the area.