Report details impact of Covid on youth services in Limerick

Martin Mongan

Reporter:

Martin Mongan

Email:

martin.mongan@limerickleader.ie

Report details impact of Covid on youth services in Limerick

Limerick Youth Service participated in the survey

A NUMBER of youth groups in Limerick have contributed to a research report launched by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI).

The report, A Review of the Youth Work Sector Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, was produced by researchers Deborah Erwin and Lorraine Thompson, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research tools, including a survey of youth services, focus groups with young people, ‘check-in’ sessions with youth workers, and interviews with youth-sector stakeholders. 

Limerick Youth Service in the city centre, and West End Youth Centre, based at Childers Road participated in the stakeholder interviews and ‘check-in’ sessions that informed the report

While Limerick youth groups and young people were active in the research that informed the report, consultation took place with youth-sector representatives nationwide.

The report highlights how the Covid-19 pandemic made it more difficult for youth services to engage with at risk or marginalised young people. 67% of youth workers surveyed cited this as a key limitation of the move to online models of working.

Mary Cunningham, CEO of NYCI, said: “The research shows clearly that young people who were already most at risk became the most disconnected during the pandemic. 

Young people already experiencing poverty, for example, became even more isolated. Covid-19 had a compounding effect, whereby online engagement was significantly hampered for young people already experiencing marginalisation in various ways.

“The pandemic exposed a whole range of inequalities and exacerbated vulnerabilities in the youth sector. While, undoubtedly, youth workers in Limerick – and throughout the country – showed their creativity and flexibility in numerous ways, it does not make the marginalisation experienced by young people any less challenging.

The drop in engagement levels paints a stark picture and demonstrates just how important face-to-face youth work is, particularly for those in marginalised and vulnerable situations.

“In the coming months, funding and investment for the youth sector will be vital, as will technological innovation and ICT infrastructure, training for digital skills and on various digital platforms, and Covid-19 compliance.”

The report was officially launched at an online event by Roderic O’Gorman TD, Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth.