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Education Minister Peter Weir has visited youth centres in North Belfast and Newtownabbey to meet youth workers and discuss recent unrest in interface areas.

The Minister visited Holy Family Youth Centre, Hammer Youth Centre and Rathcoole Youth Centre and heard about the experiences faced by the sector in delivering youth services during this challenging time.

Commending the work being delivered for young people in the areas, the Minister said: I am grateful for the opportunity to meet our youth workers today to thank them for the vital work that the youth service undertakes to support our children and young people.

“I fully appreciate the challenges faced by youth workers as they respond to the needs of young people living within areas of unrest and I recognise that such services cannot be delivered without the professionalism and dedication of those working across our youth service.”

During his visits the Minister met with youth workers from a range of both voluntary and statutory youth settings who put themselves at risk while seeking to encourage young people to move away from engaging in recent disturbances, anti-social behaviour and elements of criminality.

The Minister continued: “Along with my Executive colleagues, I recognise the very valuable role of youth workers in diverting young people who may be putting themselves at risk, from engaging in social disorder. Youth workers provide positive alternative activities for young people. The role they have played in supporting young people through the pandemic cannot be underestimated.

“Moving forward, it is my intention to deliver a comprehensive summer youth programme to allow young people to re-engage with their peers after what has been a hugely difficult time for everyone.”