YOUTHWORK IN ACTION

YOUTHWORK IN ACTION WITH MICHAEL KELLY A recent report, entitled ‘An Assessment of the Economic Value of Youth Work’ commissioned by the National Youth Council of Ireland, found that for every €1 invested in youth work, the state saves €2.22 in the long run.

Youthwork saves the state money and promotes positivity. A recent report, entitled ‘An Assessment of the Economic Value of Youth Work’ commissioned by the National Youth Council of Ireland, found that for every €1 invested in youth work, the state saves €2.22 in the long run. A very useful publication was also recently published in the UK – entitled ‘The Benefits of Youth Work’, which identifies the key benefits of youth work. Some of these include: Benefits of Youth Work 1. The youthwork process supports learning (and is fun) Young people learn a new set of skills which will stand them in good stead in the future and, more importantly, gain understanding about their own strengths, and their relationships with others. 2. Youthwork promotes a positive contribution Youthwork supports young people to engage in democratic decision making processes, from local youth forums and youth councils e.g. Comhairle na nÓg to national influence e.g. Dáil na nÓg, National Youth Council of Ireland etc. 3. Youthwork helps to keep young people safe Youthwork builds emotional resilience, judgment and decision-making in young people. The process supports them to manage risk. 4. Youthwork supports young people back into learning and training. The process of working with young people in groups is particularly helpful in assisting them to build and manage complex relationships so they can make an effective contribution to teams. One can see from above that the process of engaging young people in a youth work setting can have a significant impact both on the individuals involved and also the wider community. As the Unite report says – “We want our children to have stable homes, caring families, good food on the table. We also want a rich source of opportunities to be available in their leisure time, offering a source of fun, development and support”. And who could disagree with that? Michael Kelly is the Youth Officer with Co Roscommon VEC. He has over 25 years experience in youth work, both overseas and in Ireland. His work has included direct work, management, training and policy / systems development. Benefits of Youth Work By Kay Mc Cabe Sometimes I get asked the question, “What do you do as a Youth Worker?” and “Why is the government still giving money to youthwork? Sure young people don’t need it!” I simply answer that young people are so important in today’s society and that they are our future. Never before have young people been discussed so much in the media both in a positive and negative light. I see it as my job as a Youth Worker to help young people reach their full potential and to give them situations and programmes in which to shine both developmentally and personally. Youthwork settings such as youth groups or clubs give young people the chance to relax and maybe converse with adults on a different level than in school or home settings. Learning and personal development can be achieved more easily because the young people are more at ease with the Youth Worker. The Youth Worker is there to let the young people know they have a voice and that they can make a positive contribution to their community and their surroundings. Involve Youth Navan has taken part in many projects such as painting a dilapidated local alley way with a mural to national programmes such as Show Racism the Red Card. These programmes show young Travellers in Navan that they can have an impact on society both on a local and national level. We want the best for our young people. We want them to have stable homes, caring families, good food on the table and to feel safe. We run healthy eating courses, Drug and Alcohol awareness Programmes, First Aid and Bike Safety courses to name but a few. These programmes help young people feel safe by helping them make better decisions and make them more resilient for their voyage into adulthood. Young people spend so much time in formal education and they need a rich source of opportunities to be available in their leisure time also which offer a source of fun, development and support. Youthwork is at the heart of this and should be an entitlement for all young people. Kay McCabe is Youthwork Co-ordinator at Involve Navan Travellers Workshops.

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