NAMA has the potential to provide “social dividend” for young people in the form of youth cafes and drop in centres says Labour Senator Dominic Hannigan.
The Labour Party spokesman on commuter affairs this weeked launched ‘Youth Attitude’, a report on youth services in the commuter belt counties.
In a statement issued by Mr Hannigan with respect to his report he said “This in-depth study exploring the lives of teenagers in Ireland’s commuter belt towns involved over 400 young people living in Louth, Meath, Wicklow and Kildare.”
The study on which the report is based was carried out this summer and was incoroprates findings from teenage focus groups which met in Leinster House in June to discuss what young people want and why.
Senator Hannigan said: “Quite often adults assume they know what the issues are and what life is like for teens growing up in our commuter areas. I thought it was time we asked teenagers directly.”
What Senator Hannigan found was, that there were many issues in relation to access to facilities.
“Among the reports findings are that over 93% of teenage boys do not use music or drama facilities. Girls show less interest in team sports with some 40% saying they don’t’ want to take part or team sports don’t interest them.” said Mr Hannigan.
“What they want is access to facilities and cheap transport. The idea of youth cafes is particularly popular and, even in these difficult financial times, they could be provided.
“The Government is now reputed to own a lot of town centre buildings which are lying empty. One has only to walk down the main streets of our town and villages to see that. We should be looking at trying to realise a social benefit from this situation.” conclueded Senator Hannigan.
Over the last ten years Dublin’s commuter belt has changed more rapidly than any other part of the country.
The focus of development during this time has been shopping and housing but not the services that should go with it. Young people are among those worst affected by this failing. And there are plenty of them – Commuter Belt counties have far more children under the age of fourteen than the national average.
This report confirms there is a demand for youth services that is not being met. Youth workers have listened to the young people in their communities and have found youth cafes are wanted. But they say there is a lack of funding for staff and facilities.
Young people are frustrated by this. They told me so when we met in Leinster House for the Focus Group published here. One of things I heard loud and clear was that the cost of recreation was high and access was low.
Creative, low-cost solutions are needed to address these problems. For instance, with so many properties due to come into public ownership, some of these could be set aside for facilities such as youth cafes.
The contributors to the chapter, Voices from the Frontline stressed that young people must be consulted before services are developed for them. This report was compiled in that spirit and I hope it goes some way to showing that politicians are listening.