Omagh Boys and Girls Club ‘fearing for future’

OMAGH’S renowned Boys and Girls Club is ‘fearing for its future’ after the Education Authority (EA) refused to grant it over £130,000 in vital funding.
The club disputes the EA’s reason for rejecting the funding application, and says the issue could jeopardise the delivery of vital services to more than 400 young people in the town.
The EA is reported to have stated that the bid submitted by the Boys and Girls Club did not fulfill its funding requirements. 
But this has been strongly challenged by Paddy McMahon, secretary of the management committee of the club, which celebrates its 70th anniversary next year.
“The reason given for our unsuccessful bid indicated that our club could not deliver the specification required by the EA to provide certain youth programmes within the budget permitted. But we have the evidence to confirm that we could do this,” Mr McMahon said.
“There is naturally deep disappointment and frustration that our bid has not met with EA approval. We made it in good faith and in line with advice and guidance provided by the Youth Work Alliance, the agency delegated by the EA to give support to the voluntary youth sector.”
The Omagh Boys and Girls Club is based at the Station Centre on James Street and is the largest youth club locally, having relocated there two decades ago at a cost of £1.25million. But its work has been severely curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr McMahon said the issue over the funding could not have come at a worse time.
“There will be a very real and urgent need for work with young people in the post-pandemic world when the widely accepted negative impacts of the pandemic on them and their families become increasingly real,” he added.
“Our work with local young people over the generations is acknowledged and validated by the community and by Department of Education Inspectorate teams and EA moderations.
“It’s basic common sense that the strategic vision for local youth service delivery ought to involve mature discussions with the primary voluntary and statutory sectors, who have the infrastructure of buildings and staff to make a transparent, effective plan to meet all targets of specific youth work.
“This is not the case currently, and there has to be a more joined up approach which encourages collaboration and partnership.”
When contacted by the Ulster Herald, the EA said organisations are assessed against criteria and funding is awarded accordingly.
They added that, while they cannot discuss individual applications, a representative from EA’s Youth Services would be in contact with unsuccessful organisations to provide feedback and guidance.

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