News

First Online Irish Youth Chat Service Launched

  

Press Release
Youth Information Partnership
April 14th, 2020

First Online Irish Youth Chat Service Launched – Organisations Accelerate Initiative in Light of Current Crisis

Four leading Irish youth organisations have today formally launched a new unique online youth chat system called the Digital Youth Information Chat Service. The Youth Information Online chat service is the first of its kind in Ireland. Crosscare, SpunOut, YMCA and Youth Work Ireland who had long-planned this service have expedited the launch to support young people during COVID-19 lockdown.

The Youth Information online chat service builds on a long-standing partnership of professional Youth Information providers in Ireland and relies on the development of commitment to joined up working on communications, safeguarding, data protection, and youth information practice. The service is staffed by professional Youth Information Workers. The service will be available to young people from 4pm to 8pm and is aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25. It is impartial, non-judgemental, reliable, and accurate. The initiative has the support of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

 

In welcoming the launch of the Digital Youth Information Chat Service, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone said, that

“The launch of the chat line service today is particularly welcome at a time when young people are facing enormous challenges in all areas of their lives, particularly in matters of mental health, but are also harnessing their talents and capabilities to play a crucial role in the societal response to the current COVID-19 crisis. I would like to commend the Youth Information Partnership for working together nationally to provide information for young people on a dedicated online facility. Any initiative which seeks to support young people in maintaining their health and wellbeing is particularly welcome now and into the future.”

“This new service is a natural extension of what youth information workers do day-to-day but enhances this work by recognising both the importance of the online lives that young people lead and of course the current period which presents huge challenges for young people. It builds on the existing partnership between Crosscare, YMCA, Youth Work Ireland who have provided physical Youth Information Centres and SpunOut which has been a leader in the online space. This is a major first for Ireland in these difficult times and we expect it to make a significant contribution to young people’s lives” said Patrick Burke of Youth Work Ireland

“This partnership creates great synergies realising that young people move between the online and real worlds and need to have trusted adults to interact with and help them navigate life’s challenges on that journey. A chat service where young people can move seamlessly to personalised trusted adult professional support is a hugely important offer in young people’s lives. This initiative also will provide extended hours of service through coordinating staff-time on an all-Ireland rota and information in a format that is appropriate to the information seeking habits of young people” added Greg Tierney of Crosscare

“In an era of false news and confusion online Youth Information Service partners bring expertise to this work by providing quality youth information to young people in a way the helps them to use the information and take positive action in their lives. It will provide youth information to young people who can’t easily access physical Youth Information Centres.  We know the need for the service based on our day to day experience. The service is critical because it responds to young people’s information needs in real time and helps them navigate different arguments and information sources by being able to interact with a trained professional through the chat service” said Ian Power of SpunOut

“In this present time this initiative by these four organisations responds to specific needs by working together nationally to build a vetted, verified and youth friendly online facility. It will also achieve value for money by pooling and scaling resources across Youth Information staff and centres and contribute to quality practice by sharing practice and knowledge through an all-Ireland youth information initiative. It will respond to young people’s needs and aspirations by jointly creating data analytics that describe and predict trends young people’s query topics. We also believe it is particularly helpful with large numbers of young people out of school at the moment” concluded David Backhouse

Video Young People Describe the Service

ENDS

Contact: Michael Mc Loughlin 087 6677499

Editors Note:

Young people can access the service by going to https://direct.lc.chat/10341532/

The system will be initially live from 4pm to 8pm Monday till Friday. Young people can make queries outside of these times, which will generate a “ticket.” Youth Information Workers then pick up and respond to outstanding ticket when they system next becomes active.