Inner city project ‘on funding cliff edge’

by Gazette Reporter
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THE future of a unique and highly successful youth outreach project diverting people from drugs and crime hangs in the balance due to doubts over funding.

Locals fear for the future of the TRY – Targeted Response with Youth – programme despite the fact that is has a proven track record in reducing drug dealing and anti-social behaviour.

An evaluation of the project which is based around Donore Avenue and St Teresa’s Gardens shows that it has achieved “substantial” outcomes.

The report has been written by independent legal consultant Dr Jane Mulcahy, and the project is managed and housed by Donore Community Drug & Alcohol Team.

So far, 39 participants in TRY have moved away from anti-social behaviour and dealing towards education, training, employment as well as health and drug treatment services.

The levels of visible drug dealing in St Teresa’s Gardens have dropped significantly, and the main “gang” congregating in the area has effectively disintegrated.

The total funding provided to TRY since 2017 is less than the cost of detaining just one young person in Oberstown or three adults in prison for a year, according to the evaluation.

However according to Fearghal Connolly, manager of the Donore Community Drug and Alcohol Team, it faces having its funding axed – for a third time in June 2021.

“This project urgently needs to be supported for at least three to five years, not left hanging,” said Connolly. “It is a far better policy option than spending money on locking up young people and throwing away their futures.

“It is a far better option than seeing children and young people being groomed and led into a life of drugs, crime and fear.

“We are working with young people that many say ‘cannot be reached’. They are written off, barred and excluded because their behaviour is too challenging. But TRY has proven all of this wrong.”

TRY was initially funded as a Dublin City Council pilot project through the St Teresa’s Gardens Regeneration Board, but then discontinued after the pilot was completed.

It was then restarted with another injection of DCC funding, conditional on the support of other agencies. At the last minute, the project managed to access Sláintecare funding which runs out in June 2021.

Over the past year, TRY has also played a key role in protecting the young people, their families and community from the risk of Covid-19.

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