We’re very pleased to post this link to an important research article by Daisy Ritchie and Jon Ord, ‘The experience of open access youth work :the voice of young people’.
This research explores young people’s experiences of open access youth work and identifies what they consider to be its value. The detailed analysis of the data, achieved through focus groups, revealed that ‘association’ was a key driver of engagement. It also highlighted the support system the youth club creates amongst the peers. The young people also valued the relationships they form with youth workers and acknowledge the support and guidance offered to them which better enables them to reflect on and navigate their complex lives. Young people also valued the acceptance they feel from the community developed in the youth space. It provided comfort and reassurance when at times they do not feel like they fit in anywhere else. This research offers a significant counter to the tide of current targeted youth work policy which is resulting in the demise of a provision which, judged by the findings from this research, appears to be highly valued by, and beneficial to, young people.
This research is a small-scale practitioner research which is an: ‘enquiry that is directed towards creating and extending knowledge, illuminating and improving practice and influencing policies in an informed way’ (Goodfellow 2005). It sets out to obtain an in-depth, qualitative exploration of young people’s experiences of open access youth work. The principal researcher had been a youth worker in the youth club for some time before undertaking this research. It was conducted in a small voluntary sector open access youth centre in a deprived city centre location, in the South West of England. The centre is open three times a week; twice for open access youth work sessions and once for a young women’s group. The research utilises focus groups to elicit the motivations behind young people’s attendance and continued engagement with open access youth work, especially when very little material resources are available.
Access to the article is limited so we would welcome responses to its contents. Indeed it would be excellent if somebody could do a summary of its argument. Contact Tony at tonymtaylor @gmail.com if you are so inclined.