Solidarity with the launch of the Irish Youth Workers Association, March 14

We are pleased to publicise in solidarity the launch meeting of the Irish Youth Workers Association.

The Irish Youth Workers Association is proud to announce on Wednesday the 14th of March, IYWA will launch for membership.

📌 Get an overview and insight into IYWA
📌 Meet the committee
📌 Get involved with the discussion
📌 Network with other Youth Workers
📌 Sign up for more information on the day
📌 Q&A

Please spread the word to your youth work colleagues –  contact at


Stories of Asylum: being patient, taking time and building trust

Sharing and interpreting stories are dear to the heart of IDYW’s desire to explain what youth work is. Hence we are especially pleased to draw your attention to the appearance of a booklet, ‘Stories of Asylum’, the outcome of a year-long relationship between youth workers and young asylum seekers, in itself a testament to being patient, taking time and building trust.


Stories of Asylum

A youth work project in Warwickshire.


As youth workers, we met a group of young asylum seekers through a detached youth work project. We met some of them hanging out in the local park and gradually got to know them and their friends. They were aged between 15 and 19 and came from a variety of countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Syria to name just a few.

We have been talking to them about their experiences in their home country (one young man left because the Taliban wanted him to wear a suicide vest), their journey here (often ending in a lorry) and their experiences of being in the UK. They were surprised we were interested. No one had asked them to tell ‘their story’ before.

One of the young people expressed a wish to share his story with young people at his school so that they might understand him better. He felt sad that he was called ‘ISIS’ and that people didn’t know the reasons he is here. From that, an idea formed of gathering a range of stories from these young people, printing a booklet and giving it to their school. The young people helped to fill in a funding bid to the local town council to pay for the printing of the booklets.

The story-gathering took place over a year. It needed trust to get the story on paper and time to ensure they were actively involved in the process. Other work took place – trips to get to know their local area; visits to the library to find books they could borrow in their home language; introductions to local places of worship plus some touristy outings.

The booklet is now printed and the second part of the project now begins – ensuring it is used well in schools. Young people are all involved in the promoting of the work, for example, through radio and newspaper interviews.

Hollie Hutchings [Team Leader]

Stories of Asylum  – the booklet in pdf

A limited number of hard copies will be available at next week’s IDYW conference in Birmingham


Young women and domestic violence in rural South Africa – new article in Y&P


Young women and domestic violence in rural South Africa – new article in YOUTH & POLICY

Linda Mshweshwe explores how South Africa’s Domestic Violence Act of 1998 is failing young women in rural communities who are subject to cultural norms that reinforce abuse.

It is of great concern that more than two decades since the implementation South Africa’s Domestic Violence Act (1998) many rural populations remain unaware about women’s rights. Young girls continue to be subjected to cultural practices that expose them to violent marriages.


The custom of Lobola and its implications for young women
In the rural communities of South Africa, girls as young as twelve enter into forced marriages with older men (see Mwambene and Sloth-Nielsen, 2011). The perceived financial gains from Lobola (the bride price) encourages parents to marry off their daughters at an early age, undermining their human rights (Sibanda, 2011). Lobola is a cultural practice whereby the groom’s family pay money or transfer livestock to the bride’s family in order to gain permission for the marriage (Mazibuko, 2016). Lobola serves to compensate the bride’s family for the expenses of raising the girl (Chireshe and Chireshe, 2010). Furthermore, it acknowledges the transfer of a bride’s reproductive capacity to her husband’s family (Rudwick and Posel, 2015).

Overall, South Africa’s Domestic Violence Act (1998) has not done well in addressing the rural cultural norms that place young women at risk of domestic violence. Practices like Lobola continue to expose teenage girls to domestic violence through arranged and forced marriages with older men. Lack of awareness of women’s rights and ignorance about domestic violence is the central problem in rural communities. Currently, there are no interventions aimed at changing the community and cultural norms that reinforce abuse. The implications that the practice of Lobola has for young women in rural areas needs to be addressed through social service interventions. These could include targeted community campaigns against gender-based violence and educational interventions aimed at challenging and changing cultural norms.


‘Youth Policy: Then and Now’ conference 9/10 February, Leeds… still places left



The Youth and Policy conference ‘Youth Policy: Then and Now’ will take place at Hinsley Hall, Leeds, 9th-10th February 2018.

This event is in place of our bi-annual ‘History of Youth and Community Work’ conference and will include presentations on contemporary as well as historical issues.

Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite here (£190 plus Eventbrite fee)

As with the earlier gatherings, it will include a mix of plenary sessions, workshops and ‘surprise’ events. We hope that this conference will be once again a relaxed gathering of enthusiasts keen to talk to and learn from each other.

Confirmed speakers so far include:

Michael Whelan (Coventry University) – Digital Youth Work

Tony Taylor (In Defence of Youth Work) – The rise and fall of local authority youth work

Rys Farthing (Oxford University) – Inter-generational Poverty

John Goodwin (Leicester University) – The life and work of Pearl Jephcott

Matt Scott (Community Development Journal) – Community Development: Then and Now

Presenting a workshop
At the heart of our conferences are the workshops. The breadth is always impressive covering an enormous range of topics linked to the history of youth work, adult education and community work. As before some of these will focus on the historical development of practice in countries outside the UK. A feature of this conference is that around a third of those attending volunteer to deliver a workshop.

If you are attending the event and would like to present a workshop please email Paula Connaughton ( with a short description of your planned workshop (around 100 words).

Confirmed workshop topics so far include: the youth impact agenda; young Muslims and exclusion since 9/11; youth clubs 1967-2017; rethinking community development; and young people and citizenship.

Full programme available now:
Friday 9th February

10.00-11.00 Registration, Coffee and Biscuits

11.00 – 12.30 Michael Whelan (Coventry University): Does youth work have a digital future?

12.30- 14.00 Lunch

14.00 – 15.30 Rys Farthing (Oxford University) : Inter-generational poverty

15.30 – 16.00 Coffee

16.00 – 17.15 In Defence of Youth Work: Is the tide turning?

18.00 – 19.00 Evening Meal

19.00 – 20.30 John Goodwin (Leicester University): What Pearl Jephcott did next: The life and legacy of a social researcher

Saturday 10th February

09.30 – 10.45 Workshops

10.45-11.15 Coffee

11.15 -12.30 Tony Taylor (In Defence of Youth Work): The rise and fall of local authority youth services

12.30 -13.30 Lunch

13.30 – 14. 45 Matt Scott (Editor Community Development Journal) Community Development: Then and now

14.45- 16.00 Workshops

16.00 Coffee available

16.00-17.00 Panel discussion

17.00-17.15 Close and depart


Youth Work in the Commonwealth: A Growth Profession

The Commonwealth Secretariat has published a major report, ‘Youth Work in the Commonwealth: A Growth Profession’ which seeks to establish a baseline of youth work in the Commonwealth.

The foreword begins:

More than 60 percent of the population of the Commonwealth is aged under 30,
and young people’s unique needs and capabilities, and the importance of their role in
national development, have been the central premise of the Commonwealth Youth
Programme for over four decades. This is also enshrined in the Commonwealth
Charter, which recognises ‘the positive and active role and contributions of young
people in promoting development, peace, democracy and in protecting and promoting
other Commonwealth values, such as tolerance and understanding, including respect
for other cultures’.
Youth workers have an essential, but often under-recognised and under-resourced,
role in engaging and supporting young people to be these positive and productive
citizens who contribute to national peace and prosperity.


At the launch of the publication, Brian Belton, the lead writer, made a presentation, which is to be found here in full – Belton commonwealth

These excerpts should whet your appetite.

Build a Collaborative Vision of what youth work is
We need a collaborative vision of what youth work is, what it can (and can’t do) and be prepared to review and develop this according to the changing needs of young people and global economic and social considerations. But this needs to be informed by a broad base, not just ‘northern’ and ‘academic’ interpretations, but particularly practices developed and pioneered, at the grassroots level, in the global south.

One definition of ‘academic’ is “not of practical relevance; of only theoretical interest”. We love our theories for sure, but so often they are made to look pallid on exposure to reality. What youth work is, how it might effectively be done, cannot be satisfactorily cobbled together from behind the walls of the ivory towers.

Establish and implement supervision frameworks
Supervision is what differentiates youth work as a reflective practice that advances via dialogue and dialectical processes. It encompasses the main tool of youth work, focused and questioning examination of phenomena and circumstances; it is the basis of accountability and so ethical and rights-based practice. Supervision is a means of managing, evaluating and supporting practitioners and practice and a means to promote learning from the same.

Brian concludes:

However, without investment in the base, we will be that much less likely to know what it is that works in youth work and therefore less able to ensure the continued growth of a sector that can make full use of professional practices and understanding. I put it to you that the latter situation, where there is relatively little invested in the base, is one ensured to be fraught with frustration and inefficiency, as well-educated but effectively practically naive professionals lead young people to destinations premised more on hope and grand ideals than couched in a broad knowledge of practicalities and possibilities.

The comprehensive and challenging report can be downloaded as a pdf.

Youth Work in the Commonwealth
A Growth Profession


Am I right in thinking the Stop and Search debate in the UK as a whole has ignored the history of policing and young people in Northern Ireland?

November 6 – further to the original post see this link to an  Institute for Conflict Research report, Beyond the Margins – Building Trust in Policing With Young People

Thanks to Debs Erwin for the link.


stop and search