Rhiannon Kavanagh is a 19-year-old Law student from Waterford. She got involved with YouthBank when she was in first year of secondary school as a committee member and is now moving on to be a coordinator with YouthBank.
What is YouthBank?
YouthBank is a way of involving young people in grant-making within their local community. It is an initiative of over 25 grant-making committees run by young people all over Ireland.
The funding distributed by these committees supports projects designed and run by young people that address issues and concerns relevant to them and their community.
YouthBank is not just about giving out grants, it is a personal development programme, which will build young people's self-esteem and confidence and provide them with an opportunity to learn new skills in leadership, team-work, decision-making, problem-solving, communication, negotiation, report-writing, presentation skills, event management, interview skills and more.
Rhiannon has been volunteering with YouthBank Waterford for seven years now and says the experience has helped her grow and learn so much. “It’s a fantastic experience. I was such a shy person when I joined, but experience with public speaking and interviews with YouthBank have really boosted my confidence,” said Rhiannon.
The youth committees fundraise money which YouthBank matches to support community projects. YouthBank Waterford fund two main projects each year; one being Enterprise based and the other is an issued identified by young people in the community. The YouthBank committee circulate a survey to young people from different areas of the county to identify issues they would like addressed as part of the grant-making initiative. One such issue in recent times has been mental health.
“One project we funded that stands out is a youth group who created a Woodwork company, bought equipment and did training with our grants and ended up creating a sustainable business.” Some participants of this project have now gone on to work in carpentry so it’s clear to see the impact of the personal development of the YouthBank grants.
There are a lot of opportunities to be gained through YouthBank. Rhiannon participated in a youth exchange with YouthBank Banbridge in Northern Ireland in 2014 where the youth groups got to share learning of their experiences fundraising, develop skills and exchange ideas. She has also networked with other YouthBank members from all over Ireland at national events and shared knowledge with international YouthBank groups from Europe via Skype.
Interested in YouthBank?
YouthBank Waterford are now recruiting for new committee members. Check out their Facebook for more information.