Thursday, 18 November 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
273. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will review the restrictions on youth group work which are currently restricted to pods of six given the vast majority of volunteer led youth work has not been able to resume or to have open access services such as youth cafés and drop ins and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56698/21]
Having regard to the need to support often vulnerable young people during the pandemic, the Guidance for Exchequer /DCEDIY funded Youth Work Organisations was recently updated to allow for pods of up to 15 young people of mixed vaccination status to be allowed for indoor youth service provision. The guidance provides for larger numbers where all participants are fully vaccinated and also states a preference for outdoor provision or smaller group work where these are viable options.
The Department has worked with youth services throughout the duration of the ongoing pandemic to ensure that young people, especially those who are vulnerable, continue to receive necessary supports to the greatest degree possible. In recent weeks, many services had continued to be delivered in a variety of ways, some remotely, some outdoor when weather permitted, and some, with strict regard to public health guidance, through indoor work using multiple pods, be it that until recently, each pod was made up of a maximum of six young people. Larger pods will now assist services to reach young people and support their attendance.
The Department has worked closely with key youth sector representatives to provide sector-specific guidance in line with the Government’s Resilience & Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 and Reframing the Challenge: Continuing our Recovery and Reconnectingto ensure that young people continue to be supported in a manner consistent with evolving public health guidance and to address other issues arising in the sector as a result of Covid-19.
As we move beyond the pandemic, I am committed to continuing to support this important sector, which has enormous value to the many young people involved and from a broader social and economic viewpoint.