21 July 2005

Board cuts youth jobs

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

Twenty-eight youth workers in Belfast are to lose their jobs as part of cost-cutting introduced by the debt-ridden Belfast Education and Library Board.
The decision to axe the posts will halve the number of youth workers employed by the board. It came on the same day that the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children announced that a quarter of all suicides in Ireland involved children.
The job losses are to begin taking effect at the end of August. Most of the jobs being lost are in north and west Belfast, the areas with the highest rate of suicide among young people.
Phil McTaggart of the group Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm said: “Axing youth worker jobs when suicide and self-harm rates among young people are so high is madness.
“Youth workers are often the first people kids with problems turn to. They are an essential service and we need more of them, not less.”
West Belfast youth worker Stephen Hughes said: “This will have a massive impact on the most deprived areas in the city. It is these communities where youth workers are needed most, keeping kids away from drugs and crime.
“To come in and suddenly tell 28 people, who have been doing a great job that they are not needed any longer is scandalous.”
Sinn Féin education spokesman Michael Ferguson has been meeting youth worker representatives for the last two days.
“At the end of August, half of the entire workforce from both the statutory and voluntary youth sectors in Belfast will be gone. The British government needs to get real about educational provision and provide a real budget that supports learning from the nursery and school to the youth club,” he said.
An education board spokesperson said: “The board has been in discussion with the Department of Education for some time regarding ways of continuing to fund this work, and a deputation met with the Department of Education in June to discuss this matter. These positive discussions are continuing.
“The Department of Education has made money available and the board is hopeful that further funding can be found to continue with this important work.”

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?