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Huge demand for youth services

Wednesday, 7th February, 2018 5:26pm

Mental health, suicide and rural isolation are among a number of key issues which have been identified by a Cork youth services body.

Cork Education and Training Board (Cork ETB), which has responsibility for the delivery of youth services in Cork, this week revealed its identification of several important issues relating to young people in the city.

Cork ETB has expanded its youth services division in recent years, engaging and contracting a range of professional providers including Foróige, YMCA and Cloyne Diocesan Youth Services to deliver projects and services to young people in Cork. 38 youth projects are funded by Cork ETB and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs across Cork city and county, equating to €2.6 million in funding.

“One of the standout things that a lot of the kids were engaging with the providers about was mental health, both at home and at schools,” said Cork city councillor Mick Finn, Second Youth Officer at Cork ETB.

“So a lot of the youth services have been devoted to coming up with ideas and strategies to lessen the anxieties of exam students in particular, and those transitioning from primary to secondary level.”

Cllr Finn said some of the issues around mental health were as a result of other issues identified, such as gender and sexuality identity pressures among children aged 13-16 and cyberbullying. He said schools were playing their part in rolling out strategies around anti-bullying, integration and equality, saying these were also being reflected in after school activities.

Cllr Finn said that meetings with various service providers had also found that many young people had become “accustomed” to suicide as a normal feature of society, saying it was an issue that needed to be tackled locally and nationally.

Cork has seen a significant increase in the number of volunteer-led youth groups operating in the city and county, many of which are still recovering from funding cuts in recent years. A recent allocation of some €1 million in equipment grants – part of a €6.35m national scheme announced by Minister Katherine Zappone – was welcomed by over 250 groups in Cork.

“The huge number and variety of applications from providers illustrated just how vibrant the youth sector in Cork is, with almost three times the number of groups than there are in Dublin,” Cllr Finn said.

“But it also highlights the huge level of need and demand for support; we must keep responding positively to a captive audience who will be our future leaders and investment in youth will reap rewards down the line.

“The cuts in recent years in the youth sector are beginning to be reversed, so it’s important that the Government continues to increase funding for the sector and perhaps provide funding to extra groups in areas that might need them.”

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