An Easy Guide to an Easy Mind

How do you cheer yourself up? Is there something you do that just helps to wash away the stresses of the day?

It was from a conversation around those questions that a young women’s group from Arklow put together a small journal called ‘An Easy Guide To An Easy Mind’.

 journal cover

During the year we worked with the girls group from The Vault youth centre in Arklow.  The result of that work was a 42 page well-being journal filled with ideas from the young people about things they do to relax, distress and generally cheer themselves up, and now we make it available for free download.

journal spotify

The journal doesn’t aim to tell young people ‘how to be happy’, but shares some of the groups favourite things to do, while leaving space for users of the journal to create their own lists or activities that fit with the different sections. Some of them are simple and easy to do, like a playlist of feel good songs or think about the simple pleasures that we do day to day, while other section help us to think about how to get a good night’s sleep.


The design of the book tries to bring a personal scrapbook type look to it. Hours were spent cutting out letters from magazines to create page headings, and old typewriter was found to try give it an old look. The girls worked with an artist who helped them with the design, but also by bringing to life the girl’s ideas for a little cartoon figure (called Alan) who would pop up from time to time (including to the cover) to offer some tips.  So if the journal isn’t always the most slick professional looking book of all time,  this is (mostly) done on purpose.



If you like mindfullness colouring books, then we have a drawing especially done for the journal by Deirdre Burke, a local artist from Arklow who worked with the girls.




We aim to distribute the book among all of the secondary schools in Co Wicklow, as well as Youthreach centres and youth centres in the county.  We currently have a very limited amount of hard copies available from YouthSpin office in either Bray or Arklow.


You can also download the journal from this page. We would encourage you to share the journal, or links to this page if you think it might be of use to people.

Try our Spotify Playlist of feel good music

Click HERE to download An East Guide to an Easy Mind


Rough Guide to the Student Grant 2017

There’s a lot to think about when going to college. Financial support is one of the big ones. Each year Crosscare Youth Information service produces a ‘Rough Guide to the Student Grant’. Below is the 2017 version, available for you to download and share freely.


You can download the ‘Rough Guide to Student Grant 2017’ here

There have been a few small changes to the grant for 2017, but for most people the criteria and figures will stay the same.  If you are eligible for the ‘Special top-up rate’ the threshold has risen to €23,000. The grant for some Post Graduate students has been reintroduced. Mature students that had previously dropped out of college can now apply for a grant for a plc course and there are changes around counting bursaries and for children of naturalized citizens. More detail about this can be found from the Dept of Education or you can click on this link to view their recent announcement of the scheme.
Our guide will give you a basic introduction to the grant, mainly around the types of questions we get mostly get asked about, including the thresholds, figures and eligibility criteria.
Some of the other costs of going to college:

  • PLC Programme Participant Contribution of €200 per year for Level 5/6 (Colleges for Further Ed).  You are exempt from this if you qualify for The Student Grant.
  • Student Contribution of up to €3,000 per year for Level 7/8 (ITs/ Universities). You are exempt from this if you are eligible for The Student Grant.
  • Fee for student facilities e.g. internet, services
  • Exam fees
  • Costs for specific courses e.g. Art material for design courses, – some course material can cost over €2,000
  • Travel Costs


If you are having any difficulty with any of the student grant process, whether that s uncertainty about one part of the application, or you would like us to sit with you and help complete the full  application form, then we are happy to help with that difficulty.

You can give us a call, contact us via social media or email. We also have offices in Bray and Arklow where you can meet an information worker, but we can also make arrangements to visit other parts of the county to meet with groups or individuals.

A PDF version of the Rough Guide can be downloaded here below

Student Grant Rough Guide2017


Guide to Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships in Ireland have been undergoing a bit of a change of late.  Good news is there are a lot more opportunities now.  Our youth Information team in Crosscare have put together a rough guide to introduce you to the basics, but the important thing to know is that you can contact us if you have any specific questions that we can help you with.

Feel free to download and share our Guide to Apprenticeships


What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is the term used to describe a period of training where you learn mostly on the job, mixing blocks of college work with full time employment. As an apprentice you will earn as you learn.  You will be paid for your work and you will gain internationally recognised qualifications.



A pre-apprenticeship course is for young people who want to do an apprenticeship but don’t have the minimum entry requirements.

These courses have both hands-on and classroom based modules, and aim to develop skills, knowledge and expertise to gaining an apprenticeship in a range of trades or industries.  For information you can contact us or SOLAS.

Craft Apprenticeships

Craft Apprenticeships are coordinated by SOLAS.

Entry requirements:

There are different entry requirements depending on the sector and job.

  • Be at least 16.
  • Have a minimum of five D grades in the Junior Cert or equivalent (QQI level 3/4).
  • In reality, however, many employers would prefer to take on those with a Leaving Cert or equivalent.

If you can’t meet these criteria, you can still become an apprentice if you:

  • Complete an approved pre-apprenticeship training course.
  • Are over 16 and have worked for at least three years in a relevant industry that SOLAS approves and have competed a successful assessment interview.

Female Bursary

To promote the entry of women into the designated apprenticeships, SOLAS/ETBs offer a bursary as an incentive to employers  to encourage them to recruit more women.  More information can be found on the old FAS website


Occupational Apprenticeships:

There are new apprenticeships available in areas such as;


NFQ level 5 to 9 is offered through the individual industries.  There are different entry criteria depending on the sector and job.  The most common way is through the Leaving Cert, however there are also other ways to meet the criteria.  Individual Sectors have different application dates and methods.

Where to find apprenticeships:

To help find employers Careers Portal have a great list of where to find potential employers here.  Also keep an eye on their ‘news’ section which details current opportunities some of which are apprenticeships.  They also have a lot of information about existing apprenticeships including training and entry requirements.
You can also contact the relevant professional bodies such as the Accounting Technicians of Ireland, Insurance Practitioners of Ireland etc.  A quick tip would be to join their mailing list, keep and eye out for recruitment drives and talk to potential employers.
Call into your local to SOLAS and make an appointment to talk to someone about apprenticeships. Check with SOLAS for details of employers that are looking for an apprentice.   Also their website gives advice on how to find apprenticeships etc.
If you are interested in Construction you can register your interest and create an account with also see their vacancy page for current opportunities.

You can also check out vacancies online with Jobs Ireland.

Quick tip – keep at it and be persistent!


For more information download and share our Guide to Apprenticeships


If you can’t find the information that you need about apprenticeships we are here to help you. You can find us in our office in Bray at St Bricin’s on the Herbert Rd, or in The Seomra Youth Centre. We are also in The Vault youth Centre each week, and can be contacted through the youth workers in Newtownmountkennedy and Kilcoole.

Our phone number is 01 2050502, or you can email  You can also find us on Facebook or Twitter


Keeping safe online – What do young people do online? What help is there for parents?

We have been asked this week to take part in East Coast Radio’s Morning Show series of segments on Online Safety – namely ‘teenager’s use of social media and what parents can do’.  Here we hope to give some general information we will share as well as links we will mention.

There seems to be a sneaking fear that young people are using all sorts of social media platforms that adults and parents aren’t aware of, or only the barest handle on. There is a whole other world that is an adult free zone, and any adults that are there are probably up to no good.  There are probably aspects of this idea that are true, but in general it’s an exaggeration.

What are teenagers doing on line?

In the main, they are doing the obvious. They are chatting with friends. They are keeping track of the latest developments within their social grouping and other peers.  They are developing friendships and forming romantic relationships.

They are taking photos and sharing them. Some are posting videos. Mostly for specific people or friends but sometimes for more general consumption.   Much of this is everyday conversation, banal and uninteresting except for those involved.

It’s also a chance for a teenager to present the best version of them self.  For every selfie posted a lot more are taken and discarded until one is deemed good enough to share. They are a chance to get the approval of peers.

If a young person is creative, the internet offers the opportunity to share work and perhaps get noticed. If they are skilled at something or have strong opinions about social issues they can create tutorial videos about make-up or gaming or something else relevant to their followers. Or they explain to the world why a particular issue is important. They do pranks. They make silly noises. They share their worries and their hopes.  If they are lucky they can create fame and a career for themselves. If they are unlucky, notoriety can follow.


Popular apps
Speaking to the young people we mostly work with, the most popular apps are Snapchat and Instagram.

Teenagers are still using Facebook, but not in the same numbers. Twitter is not so popular with young people.

There are a number of communication apps for free texting etc such as Whatsapp or maybe Facebook messenger.  Youtube remains popular for listening to music, although many will have an app  (like Free Music) that links to online content to create free music play lists. Some will have the paid for streaming apps like Spotify.

Video sharing is popular and has been added to instagram now, but Vine is popular too.


What’s new?

Newer apps that are getting mentioned in media are (22 in Google Play App chart) which allows users to lipsync to songs and share the videos.  Yellow (78 in Google Play App chart) also gets a bit of a mention, but usually in a negative light as it’s been dubbed as ‘Tinder for kids’.



Young people are fairly well versed in the dangers online, but there is no place for complacency or to assume this is the case for all young people. By and large the principle issue that affects their day to day online life is cyberbullying, or temporary dramas that aren’t quite bullying but are upsetting when they happen.How they may also be exposed to inappropriate images and harmful websites. Online risks may include any or all of the following:

  • Online bullying is not just name calling or posting horrible things about a person. They include exclusion from group chats, or creating fake profiles to impersonate or to post horrible stuff about someone.
  • Grooming remains a problem as highlighted recently by the ‘Kayleigh’s story’ case in the UK.
  • Intimate or inappropriate images getting shared without consent beyond the person they were intended for
  • Clicking dodgy pages that result in computers or phones getting infected with a cyber nasty
  • Websites promoting hate speech, or harmful health choices.


Tips for parents

In an ideal world parents will know what their child is doing on line. They will be on their friends/followers list and can see everything their child posts online and it will be safe and worry free.

In the real world teens want privacy from their parents.  They will look to have their own phone or device so that they can go about their online life without adult interference. Parents may not know what apps are on their child’s phone, let alone how they are used.

If a child is young, it is not unreasonable to know exactly what’s on the phone and to have access to the phone and any passwords etc. But as a child grows older and is perhaps paying for the phone and credit themselves, they may expect more privacy. That time will obviously differ from person to person.

  • Talk to your child. Whether online or offline, having a good relationship with your child should mean you can chat about what they do online, what the risks are and how to avoid them. It also means that if something happens they are more likely to come to you and tell you about it.  The same messages you give about relationships and keeping safe offline often operate the same principles as online safety.
  • Educate yourself – what are the different apps used by young people? What do they do? What are the risks? Do you know how to work the phone?
  • Get your child to show you how apps work. Download apps on to your phone, familiarise yourself with some basics. You don’t have to be an expert or to join up properly. Explain you just want to have a look, find out about the settings then together you can delete it from your phone.
  • Use Spunout Safety Hub and Webwise to find out about the different apps. They are great Irish sites. Again if you can do it with your child, that’s a good idea.

Spunout will explain about different apps and sites, but information about using different phones. Eg location settings or blocking people. Webwise has sections for parents with advice, explainers and ‘how-tos’ for different things.

  • Teach and talk about disclosing person information, the dangers of friending strangers online. Highlight a common sense approach, for instance if someone you don’t know is eager to meet or is asking for photos, videos or money – then chances are they are up to no good.
  • Talk about looking at information critically. Don’t take everything at face value. Think before you click on links. Especially pop ups. Chat about click bait. Don’t be afraid to let them educate you on the dangers.
  • Discuss the dangers of sharing images online, including consequences for sharing images of other people
  • Talk about how to approach friends who may have posted photos that are unflattering – how to ask for them to be removed.
  • Teach respect for others generally and this should continue on line. If you wouldn’t show it to your granny, don’t post it online. Good digital citizenship is vital.
  • If as a parent you see something on your child’s phone you don’t like – DON’T FREAK OUT! Have a sensible chat about it.


There is no 100% guarantee for safety in any walk of life nowadays, but there are always commonsense steps everyone can take to keep themselves safe. Make sure your child always knows they can talk to you about what’s going on in their life. And if its all a bit scary for you as a parent, look for help. Chances are someone has gone through something similar.

Useful links

Irish Internet Hotline

Think U Know – UK based Online Safety site

Young people are being asked to contribute to the National Youth Strategy

    What do you think are the most important issues facing young people today? Where should they go for support? These are a couple of the questions the Government want your opinions on in a consultation on the National Youth Strategy


What is the National Youth Strategy?
Late last year, the Government announced a National Policy Framework for Children and Young people called ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures’, which outlined 5 national outcomes they wanted to achieve in their work with children and young people aged right through from 0 to 24yrs of age.


These five outcomes are
1. Active and Healthy, physical and mental well beingbetter outcomes
2. Achieved full potential in all areas of learning and development
3. Safe and protected from harm
4. Economic security and opportunity
5. Connected, respected and contributing to their world.

There are two other parts to the Framework – a National Early Years Strategy, for younger children, and a National Policy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making.


What do they want to know?
Basically the Government is trying to find out what issues are most important for young people, which of the 5 outcomes young people view as most important, where young people go to be supported about important issues, and which of these do they think are most important.


How do I get involved?
The easiest way is to use the online consultation which can be found at

This link can be shared through all of your social media if you feel you want to get other young people involved. It should only take about 5 minutes to complete.
All information will be treated confidentially
There are other face to face consultation events happening through youth projects and schools. You should ask at your local youth project or school to see if one is happening there. If not, you can ask staff there if they will hold one for a group of young people.

Unfortunately there isn’t much time before all views need to be submitted. The consultation only goes on until January 23rd 2015.


Why should you (or any young people) add your views to the consultation?
Any Government departments making policies that impact on young people will have to show how they fit into achieving one of the five outcomes listed above.
The consultation will help Government and policy makers decide where there priorities should lie. They want to know what Young People feel are the priorities.

So for example, if you feel strongly that the Government need to focus on mental health, or bullying, or online safety, and that you think that there should be more youth projects where young people can go to talk about or learn about those issues, then this consultation will give you the chance to make that clear.
better outcomesHow can I find out more about ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures’?
You can download or read about the document at the link below.

The Great Wicklow Youth Survey

comhairle logo

Comhairle na nÓg in County Wicklow are attempting to find out what are the big issues for young people around the county. To do this they have launched an online survey which they hope will provide a body of information that can be used to influence decision makers around the county.

Here is the link if you’d like to share it.

Why should I fill it out?

Young people make up a very large proportion of the population in Wicklow and nationally, and together they represent a powerful voice. If a large enough number of young people complete the survey, then it becomes a mandate for for the Comhairle, youth organisations and most importantly young people themselves, to approach key decision makers such as politicians (locally and nationally), council officials, and lobby for change based on the outcomes of the survey.

If 1000 young people respond saying that mental health is a major issue for them, then perhaps the HSE needs to look at what is happening in Wicklow to address that issue. If they all flag up cyberbullying as being a problem, then Comhairle can begin to work with schools to look at ways to support young people experiencing cyberbullying. If people say what part of the county they are from, then it may become obvious if there is an issue specific to a particular town.

Comhairle reckon it will take about 6 minutes to complete. Of course if you have a lot you want to get off your chest it may take longer. We at YouthSpin think its well worth taking 5-10 minutes to add your voice and make this survey a useful resource to represent young people across the county.

That link again

Time to Move? Finding out more about European opportunities!

There are plenty of educational, employment and personal opportunities right by our doorstep, if only we knew how to access it all. Europe offers young people opportunities beyond that which they can normally access in Ireland. Maybe now is the time to explore what Europe has to offer.

Time To Move?

The ‘Time to Move?’ campaign is an information week to inform young people about the Eurodesk network, and the opportunities it can connect you with. During the week 13th – 19th October a series of promotional events will happen.

As part of the campaign there is an Instagram photo competition, a writing competition and a public speaking competition, each with its own set of prizes.  To enter the competition people can upload entries to Instagram with the hashtag #eurodesk_timetomove, or upload to their facebook page.   There are 2 first prizes of 22 day continuous InterRail Global Pass. The writing competition gives people a chance to have their work placed on the European Youth Portal. Finally in Ireland there is a ‘Soapbox’ public speaking competition inviting young people to speak about the subject ‘The Internet does more harm than good’, with a first prize of €1000 and a trip to Brussels.

Across Europe there will be a number of promotional events taking place to promote the Eurodesk network as the video below explains.

So, what is Eurodesk?

Eurodesk Logo

Eurodesk Logo

The Eurodesk network of youth information offices aims to connect young people with youth information professionals in 1200 offices across Europe. In Co Wicklow the Eurodesk Network can be accessed through the YouthSpin office in Bray, or online at

So basically, if you are thinking, of traveling to Europe for pleasure, for educational or work purposes, or are interested in getting involved with the European Voluntary Service, then Eurodesk can help you with all of that.

Tell me more about the European Voluntary Service (EVS)

EVS allows people to take part in long or short term voluntary experience in another European country. Participants can get help here in Ireland before they even decide where they might want to go. Eurodesk can link people up ‘Sending agencies’ who will support participants with training and preparation long before they are ready to travel, including help with language issues. EVS will then fund up to 90% of travel costs, they will supply a monthly allowance, and people on short term experiences claiming social welfare, can have their payment protected under their 2 week ‘holiday payment‘.  EVS will help organise that. All of that is of course secondary to the experience of a lifetime, working in another country on a project of your choice, learning all about the culture and life of that country.

Not just for ‘Time to Move’ week!!

Watch out for events happening near you, or maybe enter one of the competitions but don’t feel that if you are reading this at any other time of the year that you have missed the boat. Eurodesk operates all year long, as does YouthSpin. Pop into your local youth information office and ask about Europe. Maybe its time to become an Irish-European?