Unanimous support for Derry youth workers providing vital support on the streets and in youth clubs

Derry City and Strabane councillors have unanimously supported the vital role that youth work plays in the lives of young people in the council area.
Unanimous support for local youth workers was expressed at the last full Council meeting in the Guildhall.Unanimous support for local youth workers was expressed at the last full Council meeting in the Guildhall.
Unanimous support for local youth workers was expressed at the last full Council meeting in the Guildhall.

However, they expressed their concern that the Department of Education (DE) has not formally notified the Education Authority (EA) of their allocated budget.

Bringing the motion, SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney spoke passionately about the importance of youth workers in communities.

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“The relationship between youth workers and young people is absolutely priceless," he said. "They are in many ways young people's biggest supporters, as well as champions, and I think it's important that we do all we can to maintain and, where we can, enhance the provision that is there."

Colr. Tierney went on to express his concern that community and voluntary sector youth clubs and organisations are being threatened with cuts.”

He said: “The DE and EA are protecting the budget for statutory sector use and I think that that's critically unfair for a number of reasons. When you look at the priorities for youth, 4.3 within their own documents, EA talks about a valuable, viable alternative and cost effective option.

"That is, whether people like it or not, the community and voluntary sector, and they are now turning their back on their own documents.

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“I think it’s important that this council back this motion and the number of asks that are included within it. The most important one is that we hear from the Youth Work Alliance to find out how we can support them and their partner organisations across this district and further afield.

“I also want council to hear how this will impact organisations across our district because a higher impact on organisations across our district impacts young people's lives across our district.

“We want to encourage young people to be good, hard working members of society and one of the best ways in my experience to do it is through a good youth club and a good youth provision.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Emma McGinley added her support for the motion, saying that the value of community and voluntary workers, alongside statutory workers, is hard to quantify.

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“I know that in Creggan specifically, which is my DEA, I would rely quite heavily on the service to help deal with any issues in the area. They’ve got ‘on the street’ teams that are invaluable in terms of dealing with situations that keep young people from becoming criminalised for being involved in things that they don't realise the impact of.”

The motion received support from parties across the spectrum, with Councillor Maeve O'Neill stating that it was important to hear directly from the Youth Work Alliance about the real-life consequences of the proposed cuts.

Mayor, Councillor Sandra Duffy highlighted the impact that youth services have on the ground, and how they inspire young people to give back to their local communities.

The motion which passed unanimously will now see the council write to Permanent Secretary Mark Browne to encourage him to engage with all youth providers to assess the impact of these funding opportunities and reallocations on communities.

The Youth Work Alliance will be invited to a special meeting to outline the impact of cuts on youth provision locally.