John Lynch tells Derry rally cuts are ‘an attack’ on youth workers and children they support
“I would urge those in charge of making these decisions to see us as human beings and not as a statistic or a percentage on an accountant’s page. We are far more than that,” he told a large attendance at the Derry Day of Action demonstration against ‘austerity and cuts to vital community services’ in Ebrington Square.
He said cuts to youth and community work funding in the wake of Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris' Budget 2023-24 will have ‘a devastating impact on our children, young people, families and communites and they must be stopped at all costs and we must do all that we can to do so’.
"It is at times like this that our children and young people need to be cherished and supported as they are the future of our city. They are not to be punished. It is the business of the youth service to provide those opportunities for those children and young people which we do very well.
“It is the job of the youth service and the youth workers right across the voluntary and community sector to stand up when they are needed. Recently we stood collectively to ensure that our children, young people and families, were supported, particularly during the COVID pandemic.
"We received praise from the government for our response, our innovation and our determination to ensure that we supported those most in need in this time. Now we find ourselves having to stand up against this.
"We find ourselves standing in a position where the approach the government and their agents are proposing with these intended cuts to public services is the road to dismantling the infrastructure that supports the most vulnerable in our societies,” he stated.
Mr. Lynch warned that reducing vital front-line services in often deprived communities was a false economy.
"This approach in my view is a short term gain but will result in long term pain that will, down the line, require the government to invest more and try to rectify the devastating impacts these cuts will have on our children and young people in our communities.
"The youth and community workers who are consistent, connected, and committed to providing services to children and young people are human and they have families and these proposed cuts to the youth service are an attack on them and the services that they provide.
"It is both unjust and unfair and I would urge those in charge of making these decisions to see us as human beings and not as a statistic or a percentage on an accountant’s page. We are far more than that.
"We in the voluntary sector have a voice and we want it heard. We stand ready with solutions to protect front line services for the young people in the communities that we serve.
"Our challenge to those whose responsibility it is to balance the books is to listen to us and more importantly the young people. Value our experience and our knowledge. Your decisions will impact upon us, our young people and our communities.”