Concern has been expressed over the loss of an important youth programme in west and south Donegal.
Parents discovered last week that the Rosses NYP and Killybegs NYPs are (Neighbourhood Youth Project) are to close after Christmas and reportedly change to one-to-one interactions.
The NYP is a Foróige Youth Development Service working with young people aged 10-18 years, either through group work or on an individual basis.
All activities are fully supervised and supported by a professional youth worker and vetted volunteers.
It is particularly popular with young people who are not interested in group activities or sports.
Posting on social media, one mother spoke of her disappointment and the lack of information from Foróige.
“I know many family members who have availed of this service and it has been something I looked forward to my son being old enough to attend,” she explained.
She said her son (10) isn’t into football, Gaelic, boxing, karate or any other sport.
“He is incredibly smart, loves tech, history and geography. He has a very small and solid friendship group who he enjoys being creative with.”
NYP in Dungloe had the potential to be an ‘outlet’ for him. When he finally turned 10 this year, he was delighted to join the group.
“He got to be independent, try new things, strengthen his friendships and enjoy just being himself.
“That’s now been taken away. Another gap in services available to our community.
We cannot let this happen. I would like to understand how this came about and what evidence backs the decision to remove such a valuable service from an already struggling community.”
The loss of the asset from a deprived community such as An Clochan Liath is a “disgrace”, according to local councillor Michael Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig.
“Our community needs this facility, we need this service,” he said.
“There has been no consultation that I have been told with our youth or families or our community and that is not acceptable.”
Cllr Mac Giolla Easbuig has called for an emergency meeting between young service users, Foroige, Tusla, parents and carers over the decision.
He paid tribute to the staff who have been committed to the community for years.
Cllr Mac Giolla Easbuig was contacted by one service user, aged 13, who said the service was very valuable to their development as it helped them calm down and make friends.
The member said: “Where I live, if you don’t like football, you’re screwed. The NYP brings up something that kids can do and can keep them looking excited for doing things. NYP is a great place for when you even just need a break from your family or things like that. That’s one of the reasons I like going. If I never went to NYP, I wouldn’t have met one of my best friends or even calmed down. The Rosses Project helped me progress as a person a lot more than school ever could.”
A local foster carer contacted the councillor and said: “The NYP provides a safe environment for our children to experiment and experience social interactions within the safety of an appropriate environment with appropriate adult(s).
“I think removing this project will impact hugely not only on current NYP attendees but future children also!
“I know it improved the mental, emotional and physical health of all my children and obviously I am aware of the huge positive impact it has on other people’s children through talking with my friends.
“I would kindly ask for this to be relooked at and reconsidered. Donegal is already the forgotten county, please do not let our children be forgotten.”
We are trying to get a comment from Foróige on the issue.