We may be all working with young people we are not all doing Youth Work. ” Youth Work is ALL about working with young people, Working with Young People is NOT all or only about Youth Work.”
Over the last 10 years or more Youth Work has been incorporated into an ‘Integrated Service’ or has devolved altogether into ‘Targeted Youth Support’ or similar title. This is usually done with no clear review of the impact of different disciplines acting together in the interests of young people, or of the principles, values and methods of respective disciplines involved. It is assumed that working in the “Interests of young people means that in essence ‘We’ know what’s best for them. I think that this issue is critical to our shared understanding of our respective roles in any inter-professional partnership arrangements with either the Local State or the Voluntary sector.
I am not putting ‘Youth Work’ over and above other discipline, however must continue to assert the distinctive features of our practice. The corollary to this is that if we so change the role, tasks and determined outcomes of the workers in such a way as makes a good fit within an Integrated Workforce where the focus is on ‘Individuals’ rather than groups, on predetermined outputs and outcomes; that in the overall management there is no shared understanding and acceptance of the different disciplines within the team; that young people are perceived as problems rather than solutions, then young people are being denied some really significant opportunities to take part in informal social education experiences that engage with their own lived experiences and at its best can transform their understanding of themselves and how to effect change in their lives and the life of their families and communities.