Youth Work Is…

  • a non-formal planned educational process, in an out-of-school setting
  • an involvement with young people on a voluntary basis – from which they can withdraw at any time. Young people choose to be involved (not least because they want to relax, meet friends and have fun)
  • an involvement of adults, as volunteers, on a voluntary basis – from which they can withdraw at any time
  • both an enjoyable and mutually beneficial experience for both adults and young people
  • working with young people because they are young people – and not because they are a funding target group, been labelled (at-risk, drug user, early school leaver, suicidal, homeless etc), or as a reaction to a crisis
  • a recognition of, respect for and an active response to the wider networks of peers, community and culture which are important to young people
  • a search to help young people achieve stronger collective identities through group work, networking and solidarity
  • a partnership between adults and young people – involving adults working with, and not for, young people, in a manner that prioritises the active participation of young people as equal partners in the process
  • a recognition that inequalities of opportunities exist in society which need to be addressed, especially in relation to marginalised young people. Therefore, youth work promotes equality of opportunities for all young people
  • seeking to raise the levels of awareness among young people about the wider forces in society that impact upon them, how they are affected by them and assisting them to act in response
  • guided by a specific set of values in it’s programme content and process
  • concerned with how young people feel and not just with what they know and can do
  • an experiential learning process where young people are involved in creating opportunities for learning by doing, in real life situations, and then reflecting in a structured manner upon the experiences created
  • complementary to school and college-based education by encouraging and providing opportunities for young people to achieve and fulfil their potential
  • a process that starts where the young people are at – on their territory, within their world view / their interests / their beliefs / their values. It will later seek to go beyond this and encourage young people to develop their critical thinking in relation to the world around them
  • a belief in the concept that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, and working with other agencies and stakeholders which contribute to young people’s personal and social development
  • following an agenda and pace set by the young people themselves i.e. the young people are involved in the crucial decision making processes. This means that the young people help design the curriculum, plan and evaluate the project (in partnership with the adult leaders) and gradually assume power and control
  • encouraging and supporting young people to recognise and develop their own talents and capacities. Praise and recognition are two of the key needs of young people as described by Mia Kellmer Pringle
  • challenging young people to take responsibility for their values, actions and behaviour
  • challenging adults to take responsibility for their values, actions and behaviour
  • practicing partnership and co-operation with other groups (young people’s families and communities; other agencies and organisations) in order to get the best possible outcomes for the young people
  • recognising and respecting the needs and interests of different groups of young people
  • a relationship – based on mutual understanding and respect
  • about the transfer of power from adult to young person
  • about choice – young people have the right to identify their options and choices in any given situation and choose the most appropriate one for them.
  • holistic – young people are to be viewed and treated in a holistic manner, taking into account all aspects of their lives – their experiences, interests and perspectives.