It’s National Youth Work Week 2018
Each year, the National Youth Agency host Youth Work Week in the UK in celebration of our sector and the young people we work with. The theme this year is simply: “What is youth work?”
Everything that StreetInvest does promotes or supports street work, which is actually a distinct form of youth work, aiming specifically to support street-connected young people.
This is what youth work means to us...
In some ways street work looks a bit different to traditional youth work. Firstly, it takes place where the young person is spatially: on the street or in public spaces. Often a street work team will also have access to a youth centre but this is not vital. All you need to do street work is a trained, trustworthy street worker.
Putting children at the heart
Street work also begins from where young people are in terms of their values, issues and ambitions. This is something it shares with many other forms of youth work. This is called a ‘child-centred’ approach. It means that the young person is respected as being an expert in their own life.
The street worker will not tell the young person what to do and will help them work through difficulties to find a solution. They develop a relationship and together can analyse problems. Over time, this relationship enables the young person to make positive decisions about their future.
In the community
Street work also utilises community work methods. Street workers may initiate a conversation with the young people about the challenges they face in their community and then facilitate a means to tackle them.
For example, the street worker finds out that elderly members of the community feel frightened or intimidated by a large group of teenagers. They can help create opportunities for some intergenerational work, such as inviting the elderly in the community to an afternoon tea or Christmas dinner run by the young people. This way, they can get to know each other, changing perceptions and dissipating the fear.
Enough from us, over to them!
We asked some young people at Amersham Youth Centre, who we have been supporting for a couple of months, what it means to them. Here’s what they had to say.