Catching the Second Wave of This is Youth Work workshops : Positively surfing!

At the beginning of the year we announced that we were offering a second round of workshops based on our book, This is Youth WorkGrappling with Constraints.

Our first invitation saw us in conversation with the Limerick Youth Service.

Eibhlis Bray, Limerick’s county coordinator, has composed an enthusiastic response to the experience, The Tale of Youth Work. Within it she notes,

We began our pilot of ‘Storytelling’ over two days this January facilitated by Bernard Davies, and Suzanne Hunter Darch (also an IDYW activist). A core group of staff, were brought through the storytelling workshop, adapted from the initial IDYW programme, prepared by Dr. Sarah Banks of Durham University. The method devised by Dr Banks, “is derived from the first stage of a Socratic dialogue approach” (IDYW; 2013). Based on their experiences of using the programme in the UK and tailored to the specifics of our organisation, Bernard and Suzanne prepared a modified programme which aimed:


  • To give Limerick Youth Service youth workers an opportunity to explore what youth work practice means for them in their current work settings.

  • To describe and analyse examples of their past or current youth work practice.

  • To analyse some of these examples and reflect on how and why they are youth work.

  • To compare these definitions with the definition of youth work advocated by the In Defence of Youth Work campaign in the UK.

Moving on she reflects,

Being involved in the story telling workshop over the two days has been a unique experience. Following the workshops I wrote two paragraphs on how I was feeling and markedly the words I chose were – energised, enthusiastic and optimistic. My experience of the story-telling process was immensely powerful. This impression of story telling I feel is due to the ownership I felt during the process, as I use my own words to describe and be supported by my peers to name my youth work practice. The opportunity to tell my story appears simple, but as the web of my story was un-woven through the workshop method, the intricacy and depth of story-telling as a means of capturing practice emerged.


For two days, we participated in a group, critically thinking about, talking about, interrogating, and listening to practice that is happening in Limerick Youth Service; and I felt a real sense of being part of a movement that has at its core youth work. The challenge is to now advance on our two day experience and put in place a process of ‘cascading’ story-telling through-out the organisation, in order to capture the breath of youth work practice and collectively articulate our youth work. The potential of storytelling may be in it’s infancy for us, however, I am hopeful that this will be integral to asserting the ‘currency’ of our claims, as we build additional avenues to articulate and capture our practice.


A few days later Bernard Davies and Pauline Grace in cooperation with Nic Gratton of the Creative Communities Unit at Staffordshire University ran – what is called in this video – a networking session based on our workshop format.

Further workshops are in the pipeline, including our first venture into Wales. The revised flyer, The Workshops : A New Offer gives you all the information you need to weigh up whether your organisation might surf with us in this second wave of opportunities.

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