NYCI Budget 2022 Campaign: #YouthWorkChangesLives
In Budget 2022 our members are calling on Government to invest an additional €10m in Youth Work Services so that they can restart, restore and renew their supports for young people impacted in the last eighteen months as we move from pandemic response to pandemic recovery.
Why is investment needed?
Young people have been hard hit by the pandemic. In the last year, we have seen:
Ireland’s young population is growing all the time – we will have over 1 million people aged under 24 by the year 2025, a full fifth of our population. Young people are such an important part of our society, and they need and deserve real, meaningful support.
While youth unemployment has declined, it is still over 25% arising from the pandemic, in particular those furthest from the labour market (fewer skills/qualifications) will need support over the next number of years-youth work is well placed to support young jobseekers.
A NYCI Red C Poll of 1,025 adults from April 2021 reveals the toll of the pandemic on young adults in Ireland. In comparison with other adults, respondents to the poll aged 18-24 declared substantially above average levels of anxiety, loneliness, and uncertainty about the future:
- 59% had experienced increased anxiety
- 61% reported increased loneliness
- 59% felt greater uncertainty about their future
- 25% agreed the pandemic had caused a strain on their financial well-being
Youth workers and youth organisations have been a lifeline to many young people, especially the most vulnerable during the lockdown, using text, phone, video conferencing, to keep in contact and running a wide range of activities to support young people.
We acknowledge that youth work funding has increased in the last number of years however, it is important to state that the sector endured very steep cuts in the 2008-2014 period, which have not been completely reversed. In that seven-year period, investment in youth work services from the then Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) decreased by 31.8%, from €73.1m in 2008 to €49.8m in 2014.
In 2021 funding stands at €66.8m, however, this means that financial support for youth work is still €6.3m below that of thirteen years ago, which does not account for inflation in that period, the increased number of young people in our population, increased compliance and governance costs and the fact that the sector is now dealing with the consequences of a pandemic.
Despite the best efforts of youth organisations, arising from the pandemic and necessary public health restrictions, the number of volunteer led groups/clubs/branches in operation and the number of volunteers active is down significantly and as a result thousands of young people have not had access to youth work since March 2020.
Likewise, fundraising by youth organisations at local and national level has been severely hampered, if significant support and investment in the youth work sector is not provided, we are concerned that youth organisations who have lost significant income and suffered financially will not have the resources to reach out and engage with youth people and volunteers in the coming months. That could create a vicious cycle, where they do not have the resources to recruit young people, volunteers, access suitable spaces etc., which in turn will further undermine their capacity to earn their own income and fundraise.
Ultimately this could undermine the sustainability of organisations, the delivery of youth work in Ireland and this would further impact negatively on young people. If we allow the voluntary youth sector infrastructure to wither now, it will not be possible to revive it later and it will cost the State more to respond to the unmet needs of young people in due course.
Some examples from the NYCI Pre-Budget Submission include;
- Recruit additional outreach staff (boots on the ground) to manage and coordinate with local volunteers the retention of existing volunteer led clubs/groups and units and establishment of new clubs, groups and units
- Restart funding for volunteer led youth clubs/groups/units to meet the additional costs associated with youth work
- Retention and recruitment drive of young people, publicity campaigns both on social media and in traditional formats aimed at re-engaging/engaging for first time with young people
- Developing club friendly Covid-19 supports and trainings
- Development of new fun/socialisation programmes for young peopleDevelopment of apps to support track and trace
- Major recruitment drive for new volunteersInduction and training for new volunteers
- Support and training for existing volunteers
- Leaders training for new volunteers
- Comprehensive health and safety risk assessments/audit and implementation of recommendations