Fears over future of youth sector jobs in deprived areas

Education Minister Peter Weir.
Education Minister Peter Weir.
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Over a dozen youth services across Derry and Limavady could be at risk if funding is not ring fenced for them , local politicians have claimed.

Sinn Féin Councillor and Assembly candidate Elisha McCallion has warned that if the Education Minister Peter Weir does not renew the funding, hundreds of full-time and part-time youth worker posts, including many locally, could be lost.

The funds were put in place by former Minister of Education John O’Dowd to provide additional youth work support in areas of most need.

Colr. McCallion said: “If Minister Weir does not approve these funds, then we are at risk of losing a large section of our youth workers providing the vital services that our young people are engaged in at nights, and weekends.”

SDLP Foyle Assembly candidate Mark H Durkan has said he is appalled and angry at the proposed cuts.

“Put simply, this will set youth work back a generation, endangering positive engagement between young people and adults as well as outreach to the most vulnerable young people,” Mr Durkan said.

Minister Weir however said that no decisions have been made on funding for organisations delivering Extended, Outreach and Detached initiatives.

“I am very concerned at the amount of speculation and misinformation on this issue,” he said, adding that while there was general uncertainty over budgets, “I have not proposed to withdraw or reduce support for these important initiatives.”