Working with Partners – Donegal Youth Service

Image of person who wrote blog. We work in partnership with a wide range of organisations locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Locally, within the county, we work in partnership with several youth organisations, including Donegal Youth Service. What do they do and how do they work with us? In this blog, Chief Executive Officer and Donegal Education and Training Board member, Lorraine Thompson tells us more about it.  

Donegal Youth Service (DYS) is a countywide youth service with over thirty affiliated youth clubs and projects that provide drop-in facilities, programmes and services to young people all over Donegal. We work with over 11,500 young people annually, supported by over 27 staff and 600 dedicated volunteers.  We are a unique service in that we are locally managed and can respond quickly to local needs.

Donegal Youth Service’s capacity lies in the strength of its affiliated groups who are primarily volunteer-led clubs. Our primary focus is on strengthening these affiliated groups by continuing to develop effective policies and provide information and youth work programmes to improve the lives and development of young people and the adults who support them.

The overall purpose of Donegal Youth Service is to ensure the provision of quality youth work, helping young people to develop positive attitudes and make the best choices about relationships, school, college, internet safety, health and much more through developing and implementing programmes and policies to make sure they have healthier and better lives.

We are a contemporary, energetic and vibrant organisation that ensures young people are at the heart of our service.  We offer many different opportunities for young people to get involved or get support:

  • Education and Training
  • Youth Health
  • Employment
  • Youth Support
  • Internet Safety and Cyber Bullying
  • European Opportunities
  • Resources
  • Equality and Diversity

Donegal Youth Service works to an Integrated Model so that when a young person engages with DYS they can seamlessly move between projects according to their needs or interests. If it is educational support then they go to ASPIRE, issues around sexuality are supported by BreakOut, in need of one-to-one support for issues such as parental separation, stresses at home or school, bullying, anxiety etc are supported by Youth Talk, employability is supported by the UP Project, information on accommodation, rights and entitlements can be dealt with by the Youth Information Centre (YIC), as well as safe spaces for socialising.  We have an open-door approach and all young people are invited to use our service which means that you don’t come in just because you have a problem.

Donegal ETB has a statutory responsibility for youth work under the Youth Work Act 2001 which provides a legal framework for the provision of Youth Work programmes and services and gives statutory responsibility at national level to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and at local level to the Education and Training Boards for the development of youth work and its co-operation with other services to young people.

Further to this Donegal ETB has been a long-term strategic partner of DYS. For over twenty years the ETB has supported DYS to manage Letterkenny Youth Information Centre, now the only YIC in Donegal. The partnership has been a quality partnership from day one and both organisations played a full part in the piloting and subsequent introduction of the National Quality Standards Framework (NQSF), raising the bar for youth work in our region.  More recently the two organisations have worked together to roll out Youth Programmes across the County via UBU Your Place Your Space (such as funding ASPIRE Inishowen) as well as projects to aid the integration of new communities. These projects are specifically in relation to supporting the integration of Ukrainian (Migrant) young people into existing youth provision. The integration work enables DYS to address the specific needs of these young people and provides valuable resources to engage these new communities who may be familiar with youth work.

You’ll find more information on DYS on their website ( or contact CEO and ETB Board Member Lorraine Thompson (email