I thank the Deputy. We had a good discussion about this issue in the select committee recently. Young people have been severely affected by the restrictions brought in to protect public health during this pandemic. This has been borne out by a good deal of research, particularly a recent piece of research commissioned by my Department and undertaken by SpunOut called How's Your Head.
In recognition of the vital role played by youth work in providing support to young people, funding levels were maintained throughout the current crisis period. This enabled the youth services to continue to provide services to young people, particularly to marginalised, disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.
Early in my tenure, I was able to provide an additional small grant to support local funded organisations, youth information centres and youth clubs to defray some of their Covid-19 costs. Since then, in last week's budget, I secured an additional €5 million investment in youth services for 2021. I see this funding as supporting the front-line services as they seek to innovate in order to continue to provide critical services to vulnerable young people. I hope this significant increase in funding is seen as a recognition of the role youth services play in the lives of young people, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. My officials and I have a good working relationship with the youth sector and I will continue this engagement as we seek to support young people through this challenging period.
At a broader level, my Department is committed to leading a discussion with all relevant Departments and agencies to ensure that mental health services, educational institutions, youth services and sports clubs work together, so each is aware of the challenges young people have been facing and can help ease them back into everyday life and support their resilience. We are acting on the funding element with the significant increase in funding in the budget but also acting on the policy element. In the framework for reopening, there is a significant reference to mental health issues and the research by SpunOut fed into the framework.