Recently I was asked if I would like to participate in the National Youth Agency’s ’50 Faces of Youth Work’, to celebrate 50 years since the inception of the NYA. It was really nice to be asked and even nicer that Fiona Blacke (CEO of the NYA) picked up on things I said as “particularly perceptive” in her blog. So rather than lose it all when the event is over, I thought I’d post it up here…
In response to the question “What does Youth Work mean to you?” I wrote:
“For me, at its core, youth work is about the relationships. It’s the focus on this that sets us apart from many other educators and it’s what can enable the most profound of outcomes for the people we work with. Relationships open doors to untapped resources within people and our ability to craft personalised curriculums means we can help channel and manifest these things into real life improvements. There’s a profundity in that that I don’t recognise in so many other professions.
Youth work is something I’ve grown to be very proud of – it’s kind of like the underdog of education. Misunderstood and misrepresented, we know for ourselves how far beyond table tennis and a ‘bit of a chat’ down the village hall it goes, even if the outside world doesn’t. There’s something in supporting underdogs that’s always appealed; redressing balances and fighting on behalf of those less able to fight their own battles has always sat well with me ethically.
It’s an exciting time to be a youth worker too. It is a changing landscape where innovation and evolution are necessary to keep projects alive. Seeing the brand new ‘Institute for Youth Work’ come into being and feeling like I am part of that story as a member is an inspiring thing. It should be around this banner that we are able to bang our drum and ensure that the right people are listening. The IYW is a call-to-arms that we should all heed.”
Whilst it’s up, you can find the rest of the ’50 Faces of Youth Work’ here.