LIMERICK Youth Service (LYS) is calling on the government to provide additional investment of €4.7m in the youth work sector in this month’s Budget as Ireland’s young people face an unprecedented challenge.
This additional funding would enable LYS and our partner youth organisations provide more supports and activities for young people and meet the needs of a growing youth population.
Young people have been particularly hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of interruption to their education, loss of career opportunities, a rise in youth unemployment and missing out on key events in their lives. All of this has had a impact on the mental and physical health of young people with some becoming disconnected from mainstream society.
Youth organisations have been a lifeline to many young people during the Covid-19 pandemic with the staff at LYS providing support through a diverse range of activities and innovative programmes including:
- Weekly ‘check-ins’ via phone, text, video call and in person (2m social distancing)
- Provided mental health support and guidance
- Delivered materials to young people during restrictions to allow them to take part in programmes such as Crinniú na nÓg
- Provided guidance to young people via a Youth Information Chat Service
- Supported young people with CVs and interview preparation
- Delivered food hampers to young people and their families
However, the youth work sector will need additional funding to provide more support to young people, particularly those who are vulnerable and isolated.
As the number of young people (10-24yrs) continues to grow- it is expected to reach 1 million by 2023, so too will the demand on youth organisations to provide support.
‘Research from the National Youth Council of Ireland shows that for every €1 the state invests in youth work it saves €2.20 in the long term,’ said Fiona O’Grady, LYS CEO
‘With youth unemployment at 40% and an increase in anxiety among young people, it is imperative that youth organisations are given the necessary investment to support our young people and ensure that we do not have a lost generation,’ said Ms. O’Grady.
As an organisation that works with 4,500 young people annually, LYS is best placed to support them in accessing further education/training, gain employment experience, enhance their social and personal development and support them to advocate for their peers.
Young people are also calling on the government to increase investment in the youth work sector with some angry that they have been portrayed as ‘irresponsible and not affected by Covid-19.’
‘A lot of young people have seen their lives altered and not been able to go to school, clubs or meet their friends,’ said Dylan Madden adding ‘the majority of teenagers abided by the rules and helped their families and communities.
When asked about the upcoming budget Dylan believes that youth organisations need addition funding to allow them to support more young people.
‘A lot of my friends found studying from home quite difficult and they also missed their friends although they found the online youth clubs very good and enjoyable,’ said Dylan.
‘The youth workers were great as they gave us tips on how to cope and set weekly challenges from push up challenges to art projects which were great fund,’ said Dylan.
As the situation with Covid-19 continues to change, LYS will continue to engage with and support young people and their families.
A member of Youth Work Ireland, LYS remains committed to connecting with young people and supporting them to reach their full potential.