Our youth work pathway

Our youth work pathway

By Debbie Garden - 5 April 2019

Youth work is a process of social education and transformation which facilitates young people to ask and to answer the questions: How should the world be?  What contribution do I have to make?  How am I going to bring about positive change in the world?

Through different times and in different places, a vast range of activities and methods have been used to undertake this process.  The context in which the work is happening and the approach that the worker or organisation takes are very significant in shaping programmes and services.

Over the next few blog posts, we'll be explaining how what we do - the activities and programmes we run - enables this learning process with young people so that they become active change-makers in our world.


Our Context

Our branches tend to be based in areas of high deprivation*.  The young people we work with are usually facing deeply challenging issues or situations which result in them feeling unsafe, alienated, powerless and confused about what their role in the world is.  Each branch provides activities and services tailored to their local context, so that we can be as effective as possible in responding to the circumstances and needs of the young people we work with.  The connecting factor amongst our branches is not the specific programmes they run, but rather the values and approach that they take - the vision that we share for young people’s health and well-being.


Our Approach

We see young people as being ‘at promise’ (rather than being ‘at risk’, ‘problems’ or in need of ‘fixing’).  Our role is realising that promise by providing the services, support, encouragement and opportunities young people need to discover their unique contribution to the world: this is a powerful agent of change.  Inspiring hope in young people is a journey.  It has to be taken one step at a time.


Our Pathway

Over the past 21 years of serving young people, reflecting on our practice in projects across the country and learning from one another, we have identified common stages in this developmental journey of support.  We call this our Participant Pathway. 

  1. Connection – We foster meaningful, trusting relationships which help young people discover their value.  Our open access youth clubs create safe places for us to begin that process.
  2. Activities and Interests – We use fun, creative activities to help young people to discover their passions, abilities, identity and potential.
  3. Focused Interventions – We use one-to-one work, residentials and other programmes to help young people address barriers to their personal growth and development and acquire the skills/qualities they need to fulfil their potential.
  4. Giving Back – We enable young people to harness their passions and abilities to benefit others, through social action, leadership and social enterprise.

Over to you!

Some questions for you to consider...

  • What's your youth work aim?  How would you describe your purpose?
  • What's your context?  What impact do your environment, your location and your circumstances have on what you do?
  • How would you describe your approach
  • Have you identified a developmental pathway that your work offers young people?  What are the common activities or experiences that result in young people making progress?  Why do those things lead to change? 

We'd love to hear your reflections.  Tweet or Facebook us and let us know what you're thinking.

Each of our next few posts will look at one of these stages - don't miss the rest of the series!  You can read our posts about stage one, Connection and stage 2, Activities and Interests now and sign up here to receive an email when the next one is published. 

* According to the government’s English indices of deprivation 2015, 4 of our branches (Waltham Forest, Birmingham, Huddersfield & Loughton) are based in communities which are amongst the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country and 2 (Ellesmere Port & Darlington) are amongst the 10% most deprived.

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