Welcome to Youth Work Week 2023!
Join us from Monday 6 November to Sunday 12 November for Youth Work Week 2023. Our theme this year is…
Youth work in every place and space
Leigh Middleton, NYA CEO: As we kick off Youth Work Week, I want to reflect on why this weeklong celebration of youth work is so important.
Read Leigh’s thoughts ↓
As we kick off Youth Work Week, I want to reflect on why this weeklong celebration of youth work is so important.
First and foremost, Youth Work Week provides an opportunity for all those working in the sector to be seen and recognised for the incredible work that they do. Part of the problem we have is that youth workers aren’t always visible, they may be using a youth work-led approach in their work – and indeed have youth work qualifications and training – but be employed as something else within an arts charity, an outdoor learning, environmental, sports or alternative education provider.
This year’s theme of youth work in every place and space aims to showcase the wide range of youth work happening in a variety of contexts and settings. That includes youth clubs, naturally, but also the important work youth workers do reaching into communities (known in the business, as detached youth work), as well as providing much needed support in hospitals, schools, and working alongside a range of allied professionals.
Showing how youth workers add value to statutory services, Violence Reduction Units and education providers is also vital to bring about the professional parity which youth workers deserve and ultimately, will enable youth work to have its rightful place around the table to ensure better outcomes for young people.
Please do share your great examples of youth work in every place and space on social media using the hashtag #YWW23
Secondly Youth Work Week is about bringing to the fore the tangible difference youth work makes to young people, whilst also alleviating pressures on other services.
The short films we’re launching this week drive home the transformative effect that youth work has on young people who feel alone, are struggling with their mental wellbeing, at risk of falling out of education, or worse still prey to gangs and exploitation.
Through these incredible young people’s stories, we hear first-hand how the young people featured often encounter youth work feeling alone, frightened, desperate to feel accepted, valued and part of a community. Through the trusting relationships with their youth workers and having access to enrichment activities and a safe place to go, we see them become empowered to make informed choices about their lives and feel more positive about their futures.
The term ‘life changing’ can feel over-used, but as a youth worker myself, I can vouch for the real privilege that the job brings in giving you the unique position to change the trajectory of a young person’s life for ever. Frustratingly, it can take years for the full value of youth work to be realised. I recently bumped into a 30-year-old man in my local supermarket, who called out “Oi Leigh”, I didn’t recognise him at first. I worked with Sean when he was 15. Many professionals had written him off in his words, he was destined for prison and a life of poverty and poor outcomes. Sean is now an electrician, with his own business, employing four others. He’s happily married with two children and a dog. Sean credits his life now to the work I and a small poorly funded team of detached youth workers did to opening his eyes to his future potential and possibilities. At the time, he was problem child number one, but youth work and having someone who believed in him, who saw through the trauma and anger made the difference. No one would have thought it at the time, based on any evaluation framework.
These powerful real-life stories are underpinned by our ongoing work to build the body of evidence around the impact of youth work, and we’re pleased to release our latest research report highlighting the link between youth work and a reduction in engagement with the criminal justice system. The social cost of youth work cuts: Preventing youth offending through youth work report shows a clear association between reduced funding for youth provision and an increase in crime rates for some young people. It also reinforces the argument that a lack of youth work isn’t just failing our young people, it’s also putting a strain on the public purse.
The report builds on our Better together: Youth work with schools report launched earlier this year, which highlighted a number of beacon youth work projects across the country which are making a profound difference to young people who are disengaged with school and at risk of falling through the cracks in statutory provision.
And now as local authorities begin to evaluate their local youth offer in line with the government’s refreshed statutory duty guidance, it is essential we support them and all those working in the sector to ensure they have the skills and capacity to respond to local need.
As part of this we’re calling on all those working in the sector to complete a short survey to help us gain an accurate picture of the sectors’ qualifications and skills across different types of organisations and geographically. These learnings will sit alongside the National Youth Sector Census and allow us to capture the most accurate picture of youth work and the individuals involved in delivering it. This will help us target our training offer, including free CPD to ensure that we are building the skills and confidence of all those working in the sector.
Finally, Youth Work Week is about celebrating best practice and sharing the learning, both through your own events, celebrations and social media activity, as well as by participating in our programme of online learning sessions. Make a massive noise and celebrate all you do and share it with the world.
Don’t miss the session on the afternoon of Wednesday 8th November on how youth work organisations can work together effectively to help create a strong local youth offer. The session is aimed at those responsible for youth work commissioning within Councils as well as voluntary, charity and faith based providers, and will explore collaboration models that can deliver best quality youth work in times of financial challenge. Do take a look at the full programme of events, covering everything from learning in practice to a showcase session providing a deep dive into how youth work organisations are using the National Youth Work Curriculum.
Of course, learning doesn’t stop when Youth Work Week ends and we’re looking forward to launching a new programme of online learning events and other opportunities to get under the skin of the issues and challenges the sector facing early in 2024. Do sign up to our Network so you don’t miss out on updates and opportunities that will help you and your organisations to thrive and grow.
In the meantime, have a joyful week and thank you for all you do!
Leigh Middleton, Chief Executive
National Youth Agency
Youth Work Week case studies from young people
Seven inspiring young people from across the country are sharing their stories of how youth work has transformed their lives as part of our national campaign to raise awareness of the impact of youth work on young people’s lives.
The film brings to life the unique role of youth workers in providing holistic support for young people which considers all the challenges they are facing, be that at school, home, or in the community. It shows how youth work supports better mental wellbeing, builds confidence and can help engage young people with school or further education, as well as open up opportunities to develop their leadership skills within their youth club.
In addition to the main film, you can also watch more detailed individual case studies from each project.
Show us your youth work in every place and space!
We can’t wait to see youth workers, young people and those who fund, commission or lead youth work join the sector in celebrating everything amazing that youth work does in every sector, location and context!
Youth Work Week 2023 Guidance
Please download this document to help you to plan your celebrations for this years campaign.
Click the button below to access all of this year’s publicity materials, including social media graphics and press release.
During Youth Work Week we held six events
Click below to download certain powerpoint presentations and the main document for sign posting to resources and contact details of presenters. If there’s something particular you wanted to follow up on, please email Lydia (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please be aware that some third party slides are not available to share due to copyrighting.
Share your story
This year we want to hear from young people who have benefitted from