The data from an extensive Erasmus funded international research project into the ‘Impact of Youth Work’ is culminating this month. The project led by Plymouth Marjon University involves three youth work organisations in each of the following countries; UK, Finland, Estonia, France and Italy.
Stories of the impact of youth work on young people have been collected in these organisations for the last year and they will now be analysed and compared. The data will be disseminated through the publication of an open access e-book, published in 2018 and the project will culminate in an international conference in Sept 2018 at Plymouth Marjon University.
For confidentiality reasons it is not possible to identify the organisations involved but below we offer an insight into one of the stories, with the comments by the youth worker and stake holder.
Dr Jon Ord
Plymouth Marjon University
Before I started coming to youth club, I didn’t really have any friends. I live in a children’s home and only had other young people in children’s homes to talk to- apart from the adults. This made me feel really lonely- I had just been put into care and I felt really anxious about this. I then started coming to the Friday night youth club. I have now made some friends since coming here and I talk to them, play football, pool, PS4 and man hunt. I really look forward to coming to youth club- I like it because it finishes quite late and I like that. I find it easy to talk to youth workers because they are relaxed, open and friendly and I really like the quieter ones because I don’t like a lot of noise and distractions. Coming here has helped me a lot.
Youth Worker commentary
We received a phone call from his support worker to explain that he had been really keen to come to the sessions, but that they had some concerns over various factors which made him, and others, particularly vulnerable whist socialising in an informal setting like this.
The support worker was unable to go into detail due to safeguarding/ protection issues, but filled us in enough to let us understand the complex situation he was in, and how this could potentially be a barrier to him attending. Despite knowing the risks that came along with attending the session, we completed a thorough risk assessment in partnership with the support worker to enable him to access the session.
Once he began to come, we could see the changes in him almost immediately. He started to smile a lot more and became very chatty with staff. The chatting with staff soon moved on to small conversations with other young people, which he had not done very much of before. After a few weeks of attending, he had built a relationship with a number of young people from the session, had begun to ask for different activities that he enjoyed and was able to talk to youth workers openly about anything he needed to.
A real demonstration of youth work and what it can achieve over and above other professionals, a huge journey for the young person. It would have been easier to say no and I am struck that they took a calculated risk.