Over the past ten years, youth services have undergone massive change. Swinging cuts have reduced the local authority youth offer. Yet whilst youth services are taking a battering, the need for good youth work has not gone away. And despite huge uncertainty our dedicated, committed youth workers continue to deliver creative provision that has positive outcomes for young people.
Recent events have also focused politicians and policy makers on young people’s vulnerability to grooming and radicalisation, and the role of youth work in supporting vulnerable young people and reporting safeguarding concerns at an early stage is once again being discussed.
So, youth services are as vital as ever to young people. At their most basic they provide a place for young people to go and something for them to do. But with the involvement of skilled youth workers they can be much more; contributing to young people’s social and emotional development, helping them feel more confident, understand themselves and other people, and become resilient, responsible citizens.
At Sheffield Futures our approach involves a focus on personal and social development. We encourage young people and communities to develop essential skills that will enable them to navigate their way through life. We nurture increased aspirations whilst improving resilience to ensure participants avoid risky behaviours and stay safe.
Commenting on why youth work is so important and what inspired her to do the role, Lucy Metcalfe, Community Youth Team Youth Worker comments: “Young people are the future generation. I believe it’s important to invest in their future and help them to grow. I want to help to empower them to be the best they can be. Young people have a lot of issues to contend with and are all unique.
“For me, being young was the hardest time of my life. I got through and was able to progress in my life due to having a lot of support from youth workers. Due to this, I realised how essential this was to my growth and development. This allowed me to move forward positively in life. I wanted to do the same for young people and be somebody they could talk to and try and help them through issues they may be facing as I had a difficult time and was somebody they maybe could relate to. I believe all young people should have the same chance in life and aspire to be somebody who can help them overcome issues that are holding them back and making their journey a little rough.”
She continued: “We asked young people at our youth club at Com.Unity what they like most about their youth club. This is what they said:
· Youth Workers ALWAYS support us when there is something wrong
· I like that people make an effort to come to the youth club every week!
· Offers activities for in the school holidays
· Lots of positive energy
· Gets you out of the house
· Group activities on the field: rounders, cricket, football, frisbee, boules
· Gives you something to do
· There is always someone to talk to
· Learning new skills: pool, boxing, PS4, ping pong
· Careers advice - CV support
· Free snacks at tuck shop!
“We only asked for ten and they couldn’t stop!”
Lee Raven, Youth Worker at Sheffield Futures said: “Firstly, I feel truly blessed to be a youth worker. It is a job full of challenges from young people. The skill of youth work is being able to work with any young person, at their pace, starting where they’re at, at that time. The art of youth work is enabling young people to achieve, enjoy and make a difference. The beauty of youth work is seeing the development of a young person, which can happen right in front of your eyes but also years later when you see a young adult who has progressed in their life.
“Because of these three points the rewards outweigh the challenges and I go home every day proud and satisfied from my job, working with young people.”