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What Is Youth Work?
- Written by Keith Andrews Keith Andrews
- Category: Blog Blog
- Published: 25 March 2015 25 March 2015
Youth work in brief
- Youth work helps young people learn about themselves, others and society through activities that combine enjoyment, challenge, learning and achievement. It is a developmental process that starts in places and at times when young people themselves are ready to engage, learn and make use of it.
- Youth work happens in youth centres, schools and colleges, parks, streets and shopping precincts – wherever young people gather. Youth work methods include support for individuals, work with small groups and learning through experience.
- Youth work offers young people safe spaces to explore their identity, experience decision-making, increase their confidence, develop inter-personal skills and think through the consequences of their actions. This leads to better informed choices, changes in activity and improved outcomes for young people.
- Youth work contributes to the government’s vision for young people – that they should enjoy happy, healthy and safe teenage years that prepare them well for adult life and enable them to reach their full potential.
From January 2007, local authorities have been required to secure ‘positive activities’, including youth work, for young people in their area. These activities should be shaped by what young people say they want, and should help put them on the ‘path to successes
… so what is youth work?
"to work with young people to facilitate their personal, social and educational
development, and enable them to gain a voice, influence and place in society in a
period from dependence to independence"
(National Youth Work Standards, National Youth Agency 1999)
•Youth work helps young people learn about themselves, others and society, through informal educational activities which combine enjoyment, challenge and learning.
•Youth workers work primarily with young people aged between 13 and 19, but may in some cases extend this to younger age groups and those aged up to 24. Their work seeks to promote young people’s personal and social development and enable them to have a voice, influence and place in their communities and society as a whole.
•Youth work is underpinned by a clear set of values. These include young people choosing to take part; starting with young people’s view of the world; treating young people with respect; seeking to develop young people’s skills and attitudes rather than remedy ‘problem behaviours’; helping young people develop stronger relationships and collective identities; respecting and valuing differences; and promoting the voice of young people. This is considered in more detail in the National Youth Agency statement of principles and values, Ethical Conduct in Youth Work.
Targeted Youth Services
Youth work offers young people opportunities that are:
- Educative - enabling young people to gain the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed To identify, advocate and pursue their rights and responsibilities as individuals and as Members of groups and societies;
- Designed to promote equality of opportunity - through the challenging of Oppressions such as racism and sexism and all those which spring from differences of Culture, race, language, sexual identity, gender, disability, age, religion and class, and Through the celebration of diversity and strengths which arise from those differences;
- Empowering - supporting young people to understand and act on the personal, social And political issues which affect their lives, the lives of others and the communities of Which they are part; and
- Participative - through a voluntary relationship with young people in which young people are partners in the learning process and decision-making structures which affect their own and other young people’s lives and their environment. Although educational there is no compulsory curriculum for youth work and ‘The precise nature of work done is determined at a local level or within individual Voluntary organisations’ (What is the Youth Service?: National Youth Agency 1996)
The UK Government’s recent policy developments have emphasised the need for lifelong learning in a range of settings.
Youth services in both voluntary and statutory sector organisations have had to respond to these initiatives. To be relevant to the informal nature of youth work delivery, a resource must reflect the reality of young people’s lives in the here and now and be stimulating enough to engage their enthusiasm and voluntary participation.
Young people in a youth work setting are always free to walk away. This has implications not only for the content and educational process, but also the approaches that can be used when working with young people.
HEALTH & SAFETY POLICY
Youth Vision gives the highest priority in all its activities to health and safety issues, and to reducing the risk of accidents. By its very nature, working outdoors means that every eventuality cannot be legislated against and regulated for. Youth Vision is committed to operating within an acceptable safety framework which ensures that whilst the outdoor experience is of high quality, the actual risk involved is assessed and actively managed to an appropriate level.
Programmes are delivered by a combination of instructors and partner organisations all of whom are required to work within the scope of Youth Vision's safety policies and procedures. This includes undertaking risk assessments of all activities and taking reasonable steps to reduce the risk of accident or mishap to themselves and others whilst engaged in Youth Vision activities.
Youth Vision is committed to providing: a working environment which is as safe as can reasonably be achieved; information and procedures in support of the above; appropriate training and supervision; and the necessary equipment. Youth Vision sees it as part of its duty to ensure that an appropriate attitude to safety is fostered by all those involved in its activities.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
Youth Vision has statutory duties under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 and other regulations to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees and students.
In turn, instructors and participants have a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and others who may be affected by their acts or omissions, and to co-operate with Youth Vision in respect of any statutory provisions.
Youth Visions’ Safety Commitments
All Youth Vision' instructors and participants are required to work within the direction of its Health & Safety Policy, and the Youth Visions' operating procedures. Ultimate responsibility for the safe operation of Youth Vision lies with the Director, Sara Beauregard.
Youth Vision carries valid Public Liability, Employer's Liability and Minibus insurance policies.
Youth Vision endeavours to manage and lead projects with a high degree of common sense, sound judgement, and regard for others. Concern for the safety of participants covers psychological and emotional welfare, as well as physical safety. Youth Visions instructors take overall responsibility for the safe conduct of a project. No one is knowingly or deliberately put in a situation of excessive physical or mental stress.
The Health & Safety Policy and procedures are monitored and reviewed annually by the Director of Youth Vision in order to meet changing legal requirements. All employees will be informed of any revision as appropriate, and sufficient training will be provided to ensure compliance with all Health and Safety requirements.
Instructors and any appointed volunteer instructors of Youth Visions activities, under the authority of the Director, are responsible for ensuring that activities are undertaken according to adequate written safety procedures. These must be observed at all times during an activity, in order to follow best practice as far as is possible.
First Aid and Equipment
Youth Visions' sessions are always staffed by at least one First Aider, with an appropriate and valid First Aid Certificate issued by a recognised body such as Red Cross, St. Andrew's Ambulance, St. John's Ambulance or British Association of Ski Patrollers. First Aid Kits are maintained in good order by the Director of Youth Vision and carried on all activities. Any usage of the kits is noted and monitored.
Youth Vision generally encourages all participants to meet for sessions on site, recognising that travel constitutes a potential hazard. Care is exercised in the use of vehicles, and any minibus used is fully fitted with seatbelts, meets all legal requirements and its use is in accordance with Community Transport Association guidelines. Only authorised drivers may drive the minibus and must comply with all relevant legislation.