A new model of youth work in Ireland will see intensive outreach work with vulnerable teenagers take place in the coming months.
Youth workers are set to target “hot spots” in certain areas with the new model, which will be rolled out initially in counties Cavan and Monaghan.
The project will be extended to other parts of the country in the coming months.
As part of the model, youth workers will encourage and facilitate young people at risk of anti-social behaviour, criminal behaviour, risky sexual conduct and substance misuse into more structured projects.
The chief executive of Youth Work Ireland, Patrick Burke, said the new detached programme would contribute to equality, as it will reach out to young people on the streets. Mr Burke also noted that "geographic isolation" is a big problem in Ireland, in particular in rural locations.
“The detached programme allows us to talk, allows us to open up a bit about what we want or feel the area needs in order for us as young people to feel valued.
“This does make us feel equal, as when we are listened to and the things we look for are put in place we really feel listened to,” he said.
The new project was launched on Saturday by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone at the annual conference of Youth Work Ireland at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, in Dublin.
Ms Zappone told The Irish Times that she was delighted to be at the event, as the theme for this year’s conference was “equality”.
“I’m really thrilled to be here today as I was at the conference a year ago when they selected their theme of equality for this year.
“For me, one of the key equality issues still is poverty. Poverty is a key equality issue and I know there is a commitment here. There’s extraordinary energy here,” said the Minister.
Ms Zappone said she was delighted there had been an increase in funding to youth services in Ireland of €1.5 million.