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Youth Service Funding Reduction will hit disadvantaged areas most

11 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Lagan Valley MLA Paul Butler has said that the draft Budget will lead to reduction in Youth Service Funding that will affect disadvantaged areas most. He also said that Community, voluntary and sporting groups whose projects cater for at risk and disadvantaged young people in their own communities face uncertain futures because of the lack of mainstream funding.

Mr Butler said:

"Sinn Féin has serious concerns about the proposed cuts to Youth Services in the Draft Budget. This service provides much needed support, encouragement and opportunities for our children and young people. Sinn Féin strongly recommends the continued funding of this service.

"We are also concerned that the Draft Programme for Government contains no specific commitment from the Executive to put in place financial support for the Community and Voluntary Sector. This sector is starved of funding and this situation is getting worse because many groups are losing Peace II funding with no sign of replacement funding to sustain their projects. Yet these sectors have been central to delivering opportunities for community training and development, education, promotion of good relations, and particularly initiatives for children and young people.

"We are talking about a proposed reduction that will amount to a 7% in the Youth Service Budget. This will hit disadvantaged young people and deprived areas most.

"Community, voluntary and sporting groups whose projects cater for at risk and disadvantaged young people in their own communities, face uncertain futures. We not strongly recommend continued funding of this service but believe there should be an expansion of peer education projects and community based youth work. It is imperative that further funding was found to sustain and develop the work of the Youth Service.

"Youth Clubs, Education centres, Activity Centres and Community Youth Programmes, as well as their staff, all face very uncertain futures. They all exist to support and encourage young people to mature and reach their potential as valued individuals and responsible citizens. They are educational in the sense that it provides a social education within the context of a broad spectrum of diverse activity." ENDS

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