Mind the Gap : Youth Work Combatting Gender-Related Violence

GAP Work


Thanks to Fin Cullen for this revealing insight into the work and implications of of the GAP initiative. 

Mind the Gap: Youth work combatting Gender-Related Violence

Recent media coverage has highlighted public and policy concerns around the sexualisation and sexual exploitation of young people. This emphasises the need for youth work to continue its long legacy of feminist and LGBTQ work for social justice. It also highlights the need to recognise the everyday challenges faced by front-line workers in working in this area, and the need to think critically about how to maintain and develop services and youth work practice at a time of financial uncertainty.

January 2015 sees the completion of a two–year, four-nation project (UK, Ireland, Spain & Italy) supporting youth practitioners to tackle gender-related violence (GRV) by developing free training and resources. This innovative project was co-funded through the EU’s DAPHNE programme to eradicate violence against women, children and other minorities, and it was led by the Centre for Youth Work studies, Brunel University London. Key to the project’s success was recognising the important role youth workers and youth work has in supporting young people in promoting gender and sexualities equalities.

The aim of the project was to begin to close some of the ‘gaps’ in provision to support young people facing violence because of gender and/or sexuality. These ‘gaps’ included:

  • Separate support services for adults and for children;
  • Specialist victim-support services and everyday professional contact;
  • The need to support those affected and intervening to challenge violence;
  • Actions focussed on dating violence or on homophobia.

The national actions included developing and designing free training sessions resources to begin to bridge these gaps and explore issues such as gender identity, homophobia, heteronormativity, machismo, domestic violence and sexual exploitation – in order to support and equip youth workers and other young people’s practitioners to develop their work with young people. In the UK over 128 youth practitioners came together in London and the Midlands for the three-day training sessions- which were led by a team which comprised an experienced youth worker, experienced UK lawyer and sexual health trainer.

Participants spent time reflecting on their own experiences of practice, the issues facing young people and ‘action-planning’ ways to ensure that gender-sexualities issues remain on the agenda, that gender-related violence is taken seriously, and that colleagues and services are aware of agencies and other resources to support this essential work. As part of this project, the team developed resources aimed at youth workers and other professionals -including teachers- to support professional and organisational learning within their settings and to support their practice. In the UK this included a legal guide designed by the feminist legal organisation, Rights of Women. This free guide is an essential tool in understanding legal dimensions of GRV and young people, and it is written to support practitioners to support young people and understand issues of peer-on peer abuse, domestic violence and sexual exploitation. This essential guide can be found here:


In addition, a Cascade resource is available as a free downloadable PDF and includes activities, scenarios, thinking points, legal pointers and a resource directory on thinking about how practitioners can develop and design activities and work around these issues to build capacity in their organisation. You can find these three booklets at:


If you are interested in the project’s initial evaluation findings and the different actions in the four nations – including downloadable resources- please see: http://sites.brunel.ac.uk/gap

Follow us at Twitter at: https://twitter.com/GapWork_UK

See some of the participants speaking about their experience here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyULDQzii18&feature=youtu.be&a

For more information on the GAP WORK Project please see our website:

Or contact Pam Alldred (pam.alldred@brunel.ac.uk) or Fin Cullen (Fiona.cullen@brunel.ac.uk).


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