Thursday, 27 May 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
15. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the engagements he has had with representatives of young persons regarding their concerns for the future given the impact of Covid-19; the measures he plans to take to address their concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26135/21]
I welcome the Deputy’s question as I am committed to listening to young people and understanding all aspects of their lives, particularly at present in relation to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The importance of supporting young people through this crisis and beyond is also reflected in the additional €5 million funding I secured for youth services in the last budget. This brought annual funding provided to youth services by my Department to almost €70m in 2021.
Last year my Department worked alongside the Department of Health and the youth sector, in collaboration with SpunOut.ie, to undertake an online survey of young people’s experiences of COVID-19.
The publication of the How’s Your Headreport has been shared with Government colleagues to inform the development of responses to COVID-19 particularly as relevant to the needs of young people.
The consultation asked young people what had been working well for them, and what challenges they have faced in maintaining their wellbeing during COVID-19. A Youth Advisory Group worked alongside my Department to guide the development and analysis of the consultation. 2,173 young people, aged 15-24, responded to the consultation and the findings included:
- 37% of young people expressed optimism. This was higher for those who engaged with youth groups/clubs/services.
- 58% of reported feelings about their future were negative, including anxiety, pessimism, fear and sadness; a figure that was highest amongst marginalised groups.
- Young people reported missing friends, health problems, isolation, loss of social life and work among the impacts of COVID-19.
- The report also provided ideas and feedback from the youth advisory group on how to address the findings.
My Department will continue to support youth services to play their part in enabling young people to maintain their mental and physical health.
My Department has met regularly with youth sector representatives throughout the pandemic to address emerging issues and ensure that young people, particularly those who are vulnerable, continue to be supported.