A network of publicly funded and owned youth centres are needed in Galway to give young people an outlet and help them plan ahead.
That’s the position of People Before Profit, who are calling on the government to set up more youth centres in the city and county which are publicly funded and owned.
“It’s easy for young people to feel like there is a track that you should be on in life if you’re to be successful, and this usually involves a good leaving cert and a college course,” PBP candidate Joe Loughnane said.
“This means that for anyone who feels like this isn’t their path, there really aren’t that many options. If you don’t finish your leaving cert, or decide not to go to college, what then?
Loughnane said that people who don’t fit this mold will be told they should take up a trade, or just get “any job at all” to get through life.
“There’s no buffer zone for young people who deviate from the path to figure out what it is they actually want out of life”.
“As with most of the worst side effects of our current social system, people with less money and less social capital are inevitably hit the hardest by this.”
PBP say that giving young people a space to breathe outside of the demands of the marketplace can help those in difficult circumstances find a path forward.
These youth centres don’t have to be the height of luxury or modernity Loughnane suggested. Having good wi-fi, some learning resources, a pool table, some couches, and an information desk enough to start with.
These could be places for young people to work on their CVs, research education opportunities, or just hang out with friends and enjoy some breathing room in a good environment, he added.
“Galway already has some great youth services, and we are also calling for their funding to be increased as many of them are being stretched to their limit.
“For minimal investment, a network of youth centres around the city and county could go a long way to easing this pressure and to helping young people realise that the path ahead of them isn’t as dark as it seems.”
It is especially important these youth centres be publicly owned in disadvantaged areas, Loughnane said, rather than for-profit institutes.