JIMS Youth Centre is a place where young people can come to hang out on the weekends!
In the Spring of 1998 a 12-week pilot youth project was set up in Kilkeel. The premises (kindly donated) were laid out in the theme of Star Trek and was called JIMS. The project offered a soft drinks bar, snack food, music, games such as darts, pool and play stations etc.
JIMS has evolved into the place for youth to hang out each weekends. Although new programmes have been born and are growing, we have remained true to the Christian ethos that JIMS has had since the beginning.
From the Start…
In the Spring of 1998 a 12-week pilot youth project was set up in Kilkeel. The premises (kindly donated) were laid out in the theme of Star Trek and was called Jims. The project offered a soft drinks bar, snack food, music, games such as darts, pool and play stations etc.
Jims attracted up to 40 young people each weekend and was commended by local councillors, the chamber of commerce and Kilkeel Development Association. When the pilot scheme was assessed it was decided to look for more suitable premises in the centre of Kilkeel in order to offer a wider programme to the young people of the area.
In order to fully understand and involve young people we commissioned a local consultancy to undertake a study. This study involved interviews with young people, the statutory authorities and volunteer agencies. Specific needs identified were:-
~A need for a safe venue for a large group of 14 to 25 year olds who have nowhere to meet.
~An urgent need for initiatives to improve community relations between local young people.
~A need for the promotion of self-esteem amongst young people through developing leadership qualities and encouraging individuality and resistance to negative peer pressure.
~A need for educational programmes on issues such as under aged drinking and drug abuse.
~A need for programmes aimed at preventing trouble with the Police.
~A need for after schools work with 7 to 13 year olds to promote higher levels of educational skills, particularly for socially deprived children, and to provide a social outlet for these children.
In February 2001 Jims Youth Centre opened in ‘Edgewater House’ on Greencastle Street. The premises were bought and refurbished and provide a computer suite, games rooms and drop-in facilities. Jims is now a very popular youth venue and has continued to grow with capacity crowds on many nights benefiting from a full range of programmes. Details of the programmes run in Jims can be found on our ‘events’ page.
JIMS is a youth centre devoted to the well-being of the entire youth community of Kilkeel. We desire to provide a safe and nurturing atmosphere where young people are encouraged in multiple aspects of their lives: mental, social, emotional, and spiritual.
One of our goals is to assist young people in developing family and Christian values, building self-esteem, and increasing leadership skills. Also, we want to provide an alternative place for kids to hang out and have fun instead of participating in some of the social problems in town: alcohol, drugs, and sex. By providing fun and comfortable opportunities to interact as well as neutral venues, we aspire to help bridge the divide between communities. Overall, we intend to be a place for young people to interact and build relationships with their peers as well as with positive role models.
Here are a few life stories that have come from Jims over the years…
A story from Ben…
JIMS is the centre of my life where I can go and enjoy myself knowing that people there care for me and that I can always have someone to talk to about God and Pray with.
A story from Meghan…
JIMS, wow it is so fun. I think it is really amazing it is just full of such friendly people. All the staff they are immediately friendly, they are so helpful and so very funny. Saturday nights are even better with everyone just chatting having fun, playing pool or ping-pong, laughing and dancing, Everyone knows everyone, we are like a big family.
A story from Nadia [2nd year, 2011]…
JIMS is a wonderful place! I love JIMS so much as it has changed my life dramatically! I have met so many different types of people and made a lot of super encouraging friends! I have heard a lot of people’s testimonies and I have been blessed. My most favourite time in JIMS would have to be the awesome games we play in GAP like: Pit, Jungle Speed, Spoons (which I never can win)…and Cheat. I hope to be at JIMS for many more years to come…and I hope God will bless JIMS as much as he possibly can!
JIMS has done a lot of things to change Kilkeel such as Project 6.8: JIMS did a massive cleanup around various areas in Kilkeel. This year, I’m allowed to be part of the 6.8 team – I’m really looking forward to it.
A story from Nathan [5th year, 2011]…
I was about 6 when JIMS started up, so I feel as if it’s always been a part of my life, and it has!! I was one of the many guinea pigs who started Computer Club right at the beginning, so I’ve been through all the stages: Computer Club, Junior Gap to Senior Gap, and eventually was able to attend Drop-In every weekend. I can assure you, I’ve enjoyed EVERY single minute of it. That’s the thing with JIMS: you are always guaranteed to walk out with a smile on your face! The one thing that I love and respect about JIMS is the fact that it’s probably the safest place in Kilkeel; JIMS is like a beacon of light that kids and teenagers will recognise in the dark, fearful nights of Kilkeel. When people who’ve never been in JIMS before, walk in for the first time, there is that sense of welcoming and humbleness in the place which make people feel right at home and part of the big family!
Ever since I was young I’ve always wanted to get involved in JIMS as much as possible. So, when I was old enough I asked around to see if it was possible to become one of the JIMS staff. I’d never done this sort of thing before, but volunteering for duty made me feel as if I was serving God, because when the kids/teens arrive at Gap or Drop In they seem to have an obsession with the leaders (trust me, been there, done that!) so that is the best opportunity to become a great role model and to shine God’s light at the same time.
One of the most exciting times of my week is attending Lads, just before Drop In starts. It’s basically a group of teenage guys who meet up and just talk about their week, if they have had any temptations or if they’re struggling with something in their lives. It’s such a unique and inspirational couple of hours, because it symbolizes a group of Christian brothers uniting together and resisting the sins that go on in their daily lives. Trust is quickly built as the leaders are helpful, encouraging, and challenging.
A story from Robert [3rd year, 2011]…
Who wouldn’t love JIMS? It all started way back in the year 2009 when I envied people who went to JIMS (they were cool). Then Sept 2010 came and I was allowed to go to drop-in for the first time. I wasn’t disappointed. ‘Why?’ you might ask:
Well, it’s great craic for a start – but it also gives you an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, and find hidden talents. There is endless fun with table football, table tennis, Wii, Xbox, PS3, and more. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to put my name down for volunteering.
I love being a helper in JIMS because it give you a feel of what being a youth worker would be like. I also really the staff and other helpers – they’re great craic and easy to work with.
A story from Lindsey…
I was going to youth fellowship when it was all starting up, and because I was old enough I went—and they can’t get rid of me now!
JIMS is just a building; it’s the people that create the life! JIMS is about building relationships in a friendly environment. I love that the leaders are on the same level as the young people. They don’t get respect by asserting their authority; they get their respect by offering their friendship.
A story from Andrew…
I still think a lot about the different people I met last year in Kilkeel. In many ways, it was the best time of my life. Not just because I had a “great time” with everyone, which I did. It was also the best time because, through all the events and experiences, I found God. Let me explain.
I came to Kilkeel with a lot of theology, or at least a lot of “right answers”, from my background. But I wasn’t so good at relating to other people. So one of the reasons I did y-1 was to develop the social side of my personality. I became more hopeful about this whenever I came to recognise a very deep-rooted problem in me: I had to keep thinking myself to be better than others. Of course I am better, I would assure myself. I was counting on it. But I was slowly becoming convinced that I did not need or want to have this dark side of religion in my life. As it turned out, this ‘superiority’ was simply a cover that I used to hide the rubbish image I had of myself, because I feared that that image would get “found out.”
So the year was really a journey of coming to terms with myself. At the same time, it was also a journey of coming to terms with Jesus. I began to see him for who he really was, and is. I had no doubt who was the superior one then. Jesus really is the best. And yet I can’t describe how good a feeling it was to know that, while I concentrated on loving and serving others, I could count on him to make my life a success. By doing this I didn’t need to worry over what others thought about me, because I knew who I really was. I was with God—and that was all I needed. Really.
I then began to recognise the natural and unique beauty of every person in Jims. I began to see what each had to give, to me and to the world. Perhaps I could even make a unique impression on their lives—just by being myself. Probably for the first time I found myself actually loving others. I saw a little “bit” of God in each of them, and so I began to actually love God too.
Now, after y-1, I’m getting new challenges. For example, how to love my family, or how to communicate truth. For a few months after y-1 I experienced a new sense of freedom: I had a deep sense of peace about my life, I felt at ease with other people, and I had more joy than ever. I could now identify with those bible verses. They were not just about Peter’s story or Paul’s. This is my story! And it was about God’s glory too. Of course it wasn’t all as simple as that. But you get the gist.