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YMCA Portadown say EA cuts will see youth provision reduced dramatically

A County Armagh YMCA group has said that they face cuts of up to 30% by the Education Authority (EA), which will “directly affect” youth provision in the area.

YMCA Portadown, who say they are welcoming “record numbers” to their centre, with young people using the centre six days a week, have said that budget cuts from Education Authority funding create difficulties in maintaining that provision.

In a statement released on social media, the group said: “The Cost of Living Crisis is affecting all across society and YMCA Portadown is no different. As it stands, we are currently operating on a reduced budget of 18% from our ‘EA Local Area Funding’ while still maintaining 6 nights a-week youth provision.

“This has impacted how we operate, through a reduction in staff, ‘capped night’, reduction in summer provision and other complimentary youth services.

“This reduction is being managed by the Education Authority. We are now under 8 weeks out from our new funding year and we are yet to hear if we are successful and able to plan a programme, inform our young people of their programme offer and our staff of their employment.

“If successful, we face a further 12% of budget reduction which will result in our programme being reduced from 6 nights to 4 based on EA’s assessed need for youth provision. This may result in ‘capped nights for youth clubs as we reduce 6 nights of provision into 4, operating with a smaller team of staff and a scaled-down youth provision.”

The statement continued: “YMCA Portadown have been working alongside our sector colleagues to voice our concern of a service reduction while advocating the importance of a youth provision rich with experiential learning opportunities, diversionary activities and a skilled staff team that this funding provides.

“When we are notified of our funding and if successful; we will work hard to release and launch our programme on April 1 at the earliest convenience, ensuring our young people are informed of their youth programme.

“YMCA Portadown remains committed to seeking out opportunities that will benefit children and young people of West and to advocate and promote young people as positive contributors to society.”

The Education Authority has been contacted for comment.

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