Home > Young people's views on recreational facilities in East Cork.

Keane, Martin (2007) Young people's views on recreational facilities in East Cork. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 22, Summer 2007, pp. 19-20.

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A recent report by McGrath and Lynch1 highlights the lack of suitable recreational facilities and spaces for young people in East Cork. The report is based on a process of engagement with young people aged 13–18 attending secondary schools, youth projects and Youthreach, which included an exploratory survey, validation groups and a youth conference. The aim of this engagement process was to ascertain the views of young people on recreational facilities and spaces in East Cork.  

The survey consisted of three questions that invited ‘open responses’. A total of 702 young people responded to the survey. The researchers also conducted validation groups with some of the young respondents to discuss and develop some of the issues raised in the survey. 

Seventy-nine per cent of the young people replied ‘No’ to the question ‘Are there adequate recreational facilities in your area?’ and, according to the authors, many replies were conveyed in emphatic terms using capital letters and exclamation marks. Replies included references to young people drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and using other drugs to ‘relieve boredom’ in the absence of adequate facilities. Some replies highlighted the prohibitively high cost of using sports facilities and going to the cinema. 

When asked ‘When you go out, where do you go?’, 82.2% replied that they ‘hang around’ with peers, often despite the disapproval of their parents. In elaborating further, 37.9% stated that they hung around the town centres and streets, 16% at friends’ houses and 15.6% in shops or shopping centres. 

When invited to identify what they would like to see happening in their areas for young people in the future, respondents said they would like more recreational facilities, including cinema, leisure centre/arcade, pool hall and restaurants (35.6%); sports facilities, including swimming pool and Astroturf (24%); and a place to ‘hang around’ (22.9%). 

‘Hanging around’ with peers is a key theme throughout this research with young people, in terms of both what they do and what they need recreational space for. This theme of ‘hanging around’ as a particular need for young people is reflected in similar research and consultations with young people in Ireland. For example, ‘hanging around’ was identified as an important leisure activity by 90% of respondents in a survey of 2,260 12–18-year-olds from 51 schools in Ireland.2  Research by Devlin3 and Lalor and Baird4 also highlighted ‘hanging around’ with peers as a favoured activity among young teenagers in Ireland. In addition, the report of the public consultation on the proposed national recreation policy for young people5 identified the provision of more recreational facilities as the single biggest need identified, with somewhere to go and ‘hang out’ with friends the most requested recreational facility.

This report found that ‘youth cafés’ were a favoured option among young people as a place to ‘hang out’ with their peers. According to a recent report in the Irish Times (4 January 2007), the forthcoming national recreation policy for young people will include provisions for a network of youth café-type facilities throughout the country. It appears that what makes these youth cafés a popular option among young people is that they provide an alcohol and drug-free environment, they provide for unstructured ‘hanging out’ space, they are cheap to use and provide a safe space to mix with peers. 

Two key messages emerging from this report reflect the findings of other Irish studies and the results of the public consultation on the proposed national recreation policy. First, the need for young people to be provided with adequate recreational space such as youth cafés to ‘hang out’ with their friends is one that parents, youth workers and policy makers can no longer ignore. The provision of additional recreational facilities, such as music or sports venues, can be developed in partnership with the young people from the initial reference of the youth café. Second, this a good opportunity for policy makers to take on board the findings from research and base their decisions on these findings. If, as seems likely, they respond to this challenge, the pursuit of evidence-based policy will have received a welcome boost.


1. McGrath M and Lynch D (2007) Where do you go when you go out? Young people’s views on youth friendly facilities in East Cork. Cork: East Cork Area Development Ltd.

2. de Róiste A and Dinneen J (2005) Young people’s views about opportunities, barriers and supports to recreation and leisure. Dublin: National Children’s Office.

3. Devlin M (2006) Inequality and the stereotyping of young people. Dublin: The Equality Authority.

4. Lalor K and  Baird K (2006) Our views – Anybody listening? Researching the views and needs of young people in Co Kildare. Kildare: Kildare Youth Services.

5. Office of the Minister for Children (2006) The report of the public consultation for the development of the national recreation policy for young people. Dublin: Stationery Office.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 22, Summer 2007
April 2007
Page Range
pp. 19-20
Health Research Board
Issue 22, Summer 2007
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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