Youth centre cuts could hurt society in the future

A YOUTH worker has warned that young people must have continued access to safe spaces as the threat of financial cuts to youth centres looms large.

Concerns have grown over the possibility that Education Authority (EA)-funded youth centres could be financially hit to the point where staffing jobs and the services provided by the centres themselves could be at risk.

Stacey Graham of the FIND Centre in Enniskillen says this could have a detrimental effect to society as a whole.


While FIND is not EA-funded themselves, she says that the work that centres under the EA umbrella is vital for the community and must be safeguarded.

She said: “There’s definitely a massive rise in the need for social support for young people. After the pandemic, there was a massive rise in suicide rates, anxiety and depression.

“Providing a safe place for young people is something we can do. But again, it is all depending on the funding that’s available. The benefits of the safe places are that young people have somewhere to come in and have a listening ear – there’s someone that understands what they’re going through and can point them towards further help.

“We in Fermanagh are obviously quite rural and so, generally, there is less opportunities for young people. If services are going to be cut, that’s lessening the social opportunities for young people.

“The delay in the funding announcement affects the centres as they will be wanting to plan for the year ahead. They can only plan ahead if they know what funding is already in place.

“The need for funding for young people is more relevant than ever. It’s about helping to correct mistakes that are happening now and providing advice and support around issues so that they, hopefully, don’t continue on into the future.

“Young people having a safe space to come into after school has shown to be effective in reducing anti-social behaviour and loitering about the town. Centres having to close due to cuts in funding will have a detrimental effect on the community.


Cllr Adam Gannon also expressed his concern stating that jobs held by staff, who “go above and beyond” in helping Fermanagh’s young people, will be at risk

He added: “Youth centre workers provide guidance and mentoring that makes a real difference in the lives of these young people and to lose that would be catastrophic for many. It’s unacceptable that these same staff, many of whom go above and beyond, now face redundancy.

“I understand the financial pressures facing us, but these cuts are a result of Tory austerity that cannot be challenged in the absence of an Executive and Assembly due to the DUP’s ongoing boycott of the institutions.

“Youth centres also face further funding cuts as a result of losing European Social Fund money, without an adequate replacement put in place by the British government. The difference youth centres make to the lives of our young people is hugely important and we need to do everything possible to ensure they are properly funded so they can continue their good work.”

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