Youth Services across Belfast are facing budget cuts so severe that many projects, schemes and life changing initiatives will no longer be available. #youthwork
The Education Authority which provides financial help for youth clubs is planning cuts in excess of 30% to its funding of local youth clubs and schemes which support young people across the city.y representative Patrick Crossan has condemned the proposed cuts as “damaging, detrimental and dangerous.”
He has also criticised the Education Authority and the Department of Education for their lack of consultation and discussion on the matter and for the way in which youth clubs and other services were informed of their intentions.
“I am aware that in the case of one youth club in the Lower Falls area, they expect to see their funding from the Education Authority slashed by over 30% next year,” Patrick said.
“The harsh reality is that jobs will be lost, staff to young people ratios will be reduced meaning that many services will no longer be available”.
“Many people will be unaware of the tremendous and life changing work provided by local youth clubs. Youth workers, and the services they provide, help to reduce crime in local areas, engage young people in training and educational opportunities, help steer young people away from drugs and other addictions, provide a safe and nurturing environment and even assist in increasing the number of young people from socially disadvantaged areas going on to university and other third level courses”, Patrick said.
“These are vital, community based, support services for our young people – and, given the counselling and support role of local youth services, in many cases they can also be literally lifesaving”. Patrick added.
“Vital programmes delivered between local youth clubs which have been successful in reducing violence at interface areas will now also be at risk”. Patrick pointed out.
On behalf of the Workers Party, I have contacted the Chief Executive of the Education Authority asking that her Board meets in emergency session to re-appraise the funding proposals, engage with local youth services and to urgently impress upon the Department of Education the need for the full funding of youth services”.
“At a time of crisis in the cost of living, increasing social deprivation, growing alienation amongst young people and a serious escalation in the incidence of teenage mental health problems, we need to invest, and invest significantly in young people, the services and support that they need and the organisations and groups that help to provide it,” Patrick concluded.