One of the joys of my job is meeting others driven by the same conviction of working in partnership with young people to improve their outcomes and help them assert their purpose and voice in their communities. 

That’s what youth work is fundamentally all about. Many people working in the sector literally owe their own lives and success to youth work themselves; and are now, through their work, facilitating young people to empower themselves in unimaginable ways. 

In our upcoming conference on youth work, delivered on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat, we’ve been given the rare opportunity to convene a meeting of pioneers in youth work from across the globe. People who are realising the power of youth work to create dialogues around every aspect of social justice, development and activism.  

I defy you not to be moved by the account of youth work’s role in helping Rwanda recover from the atrocities of genocide, presented by Amon Muberuka, from AIESEC, a not-for-profit organisation that offers leadership opportunities for young people. We will hear how youth work has been essential to the country’s recovery, as part of the programme of support for communities during the COVID pandemic.  

Also, sure to give a rousing presentation is Nimko Ali, OBE, of the Five Foundation, who will describe how she’s harnessed youth voice within her activism efforts to bring an end of FGM. As an advisor on the governments’ Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, published in 2021, Nimco directly translated the experience and voice of girls and women affected by this issue through consultation to inform practical solutions. Having seen her present before, I am a massive fangirl and can’t wait to hear her speak. 

And a youth work project in Kent will share what they’ve learnt about engaging young people in decisions making around the mental health services on offer. Danny Whitehouse, Head of Youth Services, MAP, will talk us through how they engaged young people in shaping their mental health provision to ensure it is accessible and appropriate for young people’s needs. We know that experiencing poor mental health is a massive issue for young people. The opportunity to learn from those who have centred young people in service development is a golden opportunity for youth and community workers, and decision makers. 

Join us for these inspiring sessions, and many more from 10- 12 July. Whether you’re a youth worker, a student looking to enter the profession, or somebody working in an allied profession, the conference will provide an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of how youth work enables young people to find their place, purpose and voice – transforming their lives and whole communities as a result.  

Virtual places are absolutely free!

Abbee McLatchie, Director of Youth Work, National Youth Agency

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