Northern Irish LGBTQ+ organisation Cara Friend warns of "disastrous" cuts to youth groups

In a letter to the Education Authority, Cara Friend warned that the cuts represent a "monumental step backwards" for LGBTQ+ young people.

Members of Cara Friend marching in a Pride parade. Everyone is wearing colourful clothing and 5 people are carrying a banner with the words
Image: @CaraFriendNI via Twitter

Following threats to cuts in funding for youth services, LGBTQ+ organisation Cara Friend has written to the UK Education Authority (EA) to highlight the danger the cuts pose to young queer people.

Organisations were warned of the cuts via an EA ‘assessment of need’ guidance document that suggested that many applicants in each council area of Northern Ireland were set to receive less funding than in 2022/23.

Under the EA funding which had been in place up to September of this year, the Cara Friend has successfully run more than 20 youth groups, delivered LGBTQ+ training for youth workers and provided one-to-one support sessions for young people across the community, as well as conduct an inclusive schools programme to combat anti-LGBTQ+ bullying.

According to a BBC report, Cara Friend has submitted a letter to the EA advising them of concerns over its ability to continue services since the funding expired in September.



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The letter stated, “Unfortunately, it has become quite clear that it is no longer the intention of the Education Authority to fulfil their statutory obligations to fund specific support to LGBTQI+ young people in N. Ireland.”

It continued, “This represents a disastrous future for LGBTQI+ young people and a monumental step backwards.”

The organisation also highlighted that other groups which fall under ‘section 75’, including services for minorities and children with special educational needs, will also be negatively impacted by such cuts.

The letter continued, “Our entire regional youth work staff team is funded under LGBTQI+-specific funding from Education Authority NI… We have to regrettably move to close all regional services supporting LGBTQI+ young people and groups across N. Ireland.”

Cara Friend went on to outline the vital work that they conduct. “Our regional operations include the only dedicated LGBTQI+ awareness training for youth workers, the LGBTQI+ Regional Youth Service comprising 22 youth groups, one-to-one support sessions with LGBTQI+ young people currently experiencing suicide ideation and other mental health concerns.”

The letter concluded by advising the EA that they would need to put youth service workers on notice that their contracts may be terminated in 2023.

According to the BBC report, the Department of Education had been advised that it would need to make significant cuts in spending in the recent budget, including finding approximately £100m in savings from its block grant in 2022-23.

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