The young people of Rathangan are outraged at plans to axe counseling services and the local youth worker.
Scooters Youth Club has launched an online campaign to fight the HSE funding cuts. A group of young people, currently volunteering as junior leaders in the club, have come together to express their concerns for themselves, their peers, and the next generation of young people if the planned cuts go ahead.
The club said the part time positions, of both the counselor and youth worker, are due to cease by the end of April, after almost three years in place.
The positions, originally funded on a six monthly basis following a large number of suicides in the area, had been renewed several times.
“We are asking people who are interested in getting involved in our campaign to follow our progress on social media on Twitter @RathanganS.O.S and Facebook on Rathangan S.O.S to support our Uplift campaign,” it said.
The leaders said local TDs, councillors and other stakeholders were being invited to meet with the group to discuss the impact of losing the services and devise an action plan.
It suggested the HSE sell their unused properties in Rathangan to fund the service. It has also been proposed that a mobile counselor could service the area along with other towns.
The cut backs on the counseling service means the youth cafe in the community centre will only open four hours a week, compared to the current twenty three hours of use.
Local youth club volunteer, Lisa Ennis said; “The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs published a best practice guide for Youth Cafes in Ireland which clearly states that 'the work within a youth cafe needs to be supported by trained professionals, such as youth workers'. It is not good enough for the State to provide us funding for a space and take way funding for a youth worker to run it, nor is it good enough for our counselling service to be taken away with no alternative in place.
“We feel as if we are being abandoned by the State after a plaster was put over the issue, but if we do not address the roots of access to transport and services, unemployment, inequality, isolation and poverty in our village, the issues will arise again.”
Evan Dowling, a junior leader said; “There is not enough people harming themselves, is that why they took away the services? Do more people have to die in order for us to get services in Rathangan.”