In April 2022, the Connect 4 Project was launched, featuring a team of four street-based youth workers, one of whom serves as the team leader. This project focuses on detached youth work, a distinctive form of outreach that specifically engages the most at-risk and marginalized young individuals, aged between 10 and 24 years. Unlike traditional youth work settings, the Connect 4 Project operates directly on the streets of West Tallaght, Killinarden, and Jobstown, reaching out to vulnerable youth in their natural environments to provide essential support and assistance.
Our primary objective is to reach out to and support young individuals who may be facing various challenges. We aim to provide assistance to those at risk, including those dealing with mental health issues, engaging in anti-social behavior, and involved in drug use or drug-related crimes. Our focus is on extending a helping hand to these young people, ensuring they receive the care and support they need in a friendly and professional manner.
- Increased Awareness: Young people become more aware of training and employment programs offered by SDCP and other agencies. The project successfully referred five young individuals to the YES (Youth Employment Support) program in Killinarden.
- Collaboration for Progression: The project collaborates with the Sports Partnership to introduce a FETAC accredited course in health and fitness. This initiative allows young people to progress their interests in health and fitness, stemming from the football, gym, and running activities facilitated by the project.
- Efficient Progress Tracking: The project utilizes SDCP’s data system (IRIS) to track the progression of young people referred to education and employment programs. This helps monitor their development and support their journey.
- Visible Presence and Approachability: The project’s active presence in the community reassures parents and garners positive feedback. The youth workers’ recognizable clothing and approachability make them accessible to the community.
- Identifying Emerging Needs: The project plays a crucial role in identifying emerging needs and trends in the community, particularly related to drug use and other issues. The insights provided are valuable to the Tallaght Local Drugs & Alcohol Task Force.
- Limitless Interagency Opportunities: The project’s best practice approach gains widespread support from community and statutory organizations. It opens up various interagency opportunities for collaboration and positive impact.
- Empowering Positive Role Models: Young people engaged in Connect4 activities become positive role models for their peers. This empowers them to break the cycle of intergenerational drug use and related crime, leading to more self-referrals and word-of-mouth referrals.
- Inspiring Others: The project’s success and visibility inspire other groups, like the Shamrock Rovers Football team, to become positive role models in the Tallaght Community. This creates a ripple effect of positive influence.