By Eden Burton
In the new Stormont budget, the Education Authority’s (EA) total grant had been eroded by 25%, significantly slashing the funding available to youth centres. Such cuts would have a devastating impact on thousands of young working-class people and their communities. Fortunately, after the huge effort by youth workers and young people in organising protests against cuts to their services, they have now been reversed.
Youth centres are a valuable resource as they provide a free and supervised social space for many young people, especially for working-class and queer youths and those most vulnerable to abuse, poverty, and crime. They are also proven to help undermine anti-social behaviour.
Even before these cuts proposals, youth centres were already struggling due to unsustainable funding: from staff shortages to limited and damaged facilities. What youth centres need is a guaranteed yearly funding package, above current inflation to cover all of the needs of a quality public service. They also should not be left to the responsibility of the private and charity sector: instead, they should be taken into public democratic control as a vital public need and service.
Time and time again, capitalism ensures that young people’s futures are eroded and that working-class people are made to pay the price for the actions of politicians and bosses. The actions of those workers and young people show us that such attacks can be challenged.