After last week’s relatively upbeat submission from Roy in Medway to our Is Youth Work Dead series, this week we hear a different and all too familiar story of a decimated Local Authority youth service. However, our contributor does see hope in the role of voluntary youth projects. We would love to hear from you – please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on Facebook or below, or add to our map of open-access projects.
I’m a Youth worker in an area where most people would say youth work is dead and I hate to say it but I agree with them. The “professional” youth work in my tiny town is well and truly dead, trying to gain access to schools has become a near impossible task and the town Youth Club has decided to break away and try to make it on their own in a sea where you will unfortunately succumb to the rough waves and cold water. I have spent hours sitting with the team having that discussion again about where are we going wrong and what can we do but if we do not involve young people in these discussions then how are we to ever know what they want from youth work.
But, I am also a Young Person and I’m a volunteer. In my volunteer journey I can happily say that Youth Work in my tiny town is thriving! As a volunteer within a Youth Organisation, I see week in, week out the massive benefits that Volunteers have on young people in Youth Organisations. We bring young people that would not normally interact with each other together every week, provide them with a safe space, provide them with vital skill for life and watch them develop and thrive as young people. And the same can be said for all the Youth Organisations our tiny town hosts. Scouts, Guides, BBs, Cadets are all thriving and providing young people with the youth work they so desperately need.
So maybe we need to look at the bigger picture. Youth work is not restricted to what the local authority provides or those with the Professional title of Youth Worker but it should include all the selfless individuals out there that give up hours of their week and sometimes give up their holidays, unpaid, often not thanked to ensure that young people are being provided with amazing opportunities, developing friendships and skills to set them up for life.
We, as “professionals”, need to look at what Youth Organisations are doing and learn from the volunteers.
A Youth Worker, Young Person, Scout Volunteer