SDLP Children and Young People Spokesperson Cara Hunter has expressed concerns around proposed cuts to youth centres.
It’s expected that youth centres will receive less money from the Education Authority (EA) next year, putting jobs and services at risk.
Ms Hunter said that youth centres play a vital role in communities across the North and that any loss of funding would have a significant impact.
East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:
“I am deeply concerned that youth centres across the North face a significant reduction in funding for the next financial year. Those in the sector have already detailed in stark terms what these cuts could mean on the ground, less staff to work with our young people and a large scale-back on the operations of youth centres which will have a huge impact in our communities.
“It’s hard to overestimate the role that youth centres play in helping young people develop and being a positive force in their lives. Youth centres allow young people to come together to take part in various beneficial activities which allows them to develop skills and also has a positive impact on their mental health. 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.
“Youth centres also put significant resources into keeping young people on the right path and steering them away from trouble. Centres work with those who may have faced difficulty in the past, or who have problems in their lives, and help them find employment and address their issues.
“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.”