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About – Fishbowl Youth
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Fishbowl Logo

Our beginnings

A group of active young people created Fishbowl Youth in 2002. The reason for setting up Fishbowl was a clear lack of a social space and respect for young people in the area. We realise young people have a difficult position in Ireland and the negative perception of young people has a huge influence on their development. By giving them back their power, by respecting them, by expecting high quality work, and responsibility we give them the chance to develop in a healthy and wholesome way. The intention was to set up a drop-in centre in Scariff for Friday evenings, to set up a music and film project and to create a space to become involved in local, national and international issues.

Fishbowl Youth consists of four parts:

  1. Youth Activities, Under this heading are all the activities organised directly by and for the youth in East Clare who are either members of the youth club or regulars in the drop-in on Friday evenings.
  2. Training and international youth work. We encourage our young people and youth leaders to look for training opportunities and we will give support as much as possible. Where the need arises and where possible we will organise training events and/or seminars supporting the general vision of Fishbowl. The hosting and sending young people on exchanges is an integral part of Fishbowl.
  3. We offer Facilitation in group processes and active citizenship. Under this heading we help young people to work with their schools on school democracy projects.
  4. EVS, hosting and sending of young people on a European Voluntary Service. We see this as a logical step of the young people we work with after they have finished their second level education.

Personal development and active citizenship is at the core of our organisation. What is unique about our project is that participation and decision-making by young people are our most important operational objectives. We work towards an equal relationship with young people where the adult leader acts as enabler and observer, while acknowledging that the role of the youth worker/volunteer can be one of authority. We provide “an educational process aimed at increased awareness and understanding of the rapidly changing, interdependent and unequal world in which we live… it seeks to engage people in analysis, reflection, and action for local and global citizenship and participation… It is about supporting people in understanding and acting to transform social, cultural, political and economic structures which affect their lives at personal, community, national and international levels”* *Development cooperation Ireland, Handbook 2005 We live in a rural area, with very little or no Public Transport, young people in our area have little to go to or to get involved in besides sport activities. Fishbowl offers a badly needed alternative. We have been in existence since 2002 and since this time we have grown steadily. We are now regularly dealing with a group of up to 35 people with a core group of around fifteen.

Over the last few years we have organised and carried out the following:

National work

  • Filming
  • Bonding /development weekends
  • One World Week, youth advisory group for development education in Dublin
  • Leadership training
  • International food nights and acoustic nights
  • Bands nights & Acoustic Nights
  • Massage Workshops
  • Music workshops
  • Exhibitions of our activities

International Projects

  • Exchanges
  • Youth Democracy Project
  • Training Courses and Seminars
  • EVS sending/hosting

World wide Projects

  • Zambia
  • South Africa
  • New Orleans
  • UN
  • Bangladesh

Our organisational structure

We are affiliated as a youth club to the Clare Youth Service and Youth Work Ireland, but we are also under the umbrella of a registered charity Ard Aoibhinn Community Initiatives Ltd. Reg. No.352829, Charity No. 14535

There is a board of management for Ard Aoibhinn Community Initiatives on which one of our young people sits and which we write quarterly reports to on our activities. The transition year students doing work experience go to these meetings and reports and discuss our activities. Our finances are audited as part of the Ard Aoibhinn Community financial audit.
We do not have a board. The weekly meetings take responsibility for all decisions that need to be made for the youth club. Decisions that relate to the activities of the youth club are always made in their weekly meetings. As a youth club the structure is a Flexible Committee.
This is a way of working we developed after the difficulty we had with the formal structure of a committee. Many young people could not meet the commitment of a position on a committee for a year. Those who attend a meeting are the decision makers of that meeting. The chairperson and secretary rotate but finances and the responsibility for a well run meeting is with the transition years who work with us. People who cannot attend meetings can share thoughts and opinions via e mail before the meeting. All minutes are circulated via email.

The transition year students who work with us are expected to take responsibility for a large amount of the tasks, such as phone calls, e -mails, finances, typing up of minutes and other tasks that can be done in the office space.

While the rules remain mostly the same from year to year they are reviewed every year so that all new members can be involved in understanding why they are in place and also question ones they feel should change. Older members of the youth club who have done leadership training are asked to sit on committees to represent the youth club. They may also be asked to do presentations on the activities of the youth club or to meet politicians or funders with us to represent the youth club.


The project has run since 2002 on voluntary basis. For our Projects we have received funding from:

  • Léargas, for initial start-up, exchanges, seminars and training courses, hosting and sending of EVS volunteers.
  • Leader, to start a film centre, funding included, film equipment, projector, editing software and trainers fees.
  • VEC, County Clare Vocational Education Committee basic general running cost.
  • Dormant Accounts:  General Refurbishment of our Premises
  • Clare County Council Community Grants: General Refurbishment of our Premises
  • National Youth Council Ireland, costs related to One World Week, and Zambia Exchange
  • Galway Arts Council, training and rental of equipment needed to make a complete documentary.

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