As they head into the New Year, Dungannon Youth Resource Centre is preparing to face an uncertain future as a result of proposed budget cuts.
The cuts, which have allegedly come about due to a £530 million Education Authority overspend, range from 33% to almost 70% in voluntary sector units and could see Dungannon Youth Resource Centre receiving a direct cut to funding of 22.5%.
Speaking to Tyrone I, Senior Youth Worker Barry McGinley, stated: “With the new proposed budgets we would see a massive decline in the amount of children we would be able to accommodate as well as the services we can provide.
“We could have between 80 to 100 children with us on a busy night but definitely over 40 every night of the week, with Friday nights being our most popular evening. We could see those numbers reduced by half if not more and we will have to turn young people away.
“There is a very real possibly that the centre could close. It’s very worrying because the children need it. Young people get bored and they will turn to other things. They need a safe space to socialise, to do activities like sports and art and get involved with our programmes.
“We have a whole range of important programmes such as social wellbeing and inclusion, drugs and alcohol support and body positivity projects.”
Barry – who is currently off on paternity leave – is desperately fighting the cuts even from home and has been delighted to have received the support of Councillor Barry Monteith and Sinn Féin MLA, Colm Gildernew.
Councillor Monteith has taken the issue to Council in a recent meeting and explained: “It has been agreed that an emergency meeting will be called with Education Authority senior management, to take place as soon as possible. We have even proposed that this meeting can happen via zoom rather than await a date for face to face meeting.
Councillor Monteith, who is a former employee of Dungannon Youth Resource Centre, felt compelled to reach out due to his close ties with the organisation.
He said: “Not only am I a former employee of the centre but I also attended as a Youth. It has been a big part of my life and this news really has caused quite a bit of shock.”
In a recent social media post announcing the uncertainty of the Centre’s future, Chairman for the Management Committee, Jim McQuaid commented: “We in Dungannon Youth Resource Centre (DYRC) can not understand why the Education Authority (EA) have reduced our funding by 22.5% without consulting the Management Committee who are involved in youth provision on a voluntary basis.
“A number of years ago we were encouraged to apply for funding so that we could take young people in from the streets and provide a warm, safe and stimulating environment with programs that had measurable objectives.
“Now, in a time of recession, we are told that we can only have funding for 35 young people in our Centre. The others will be back on the streets. The EA may save some money but the Dungannon community will pay the price”.
Centre Senior leader Barry McGinley has stated that the centre has always enjoyed a ‘close and positive working relationship with the Education Authority’ and continues to be hopeful that future discussions will produce a mutually beneficial alternative.