Youth work has been enhancing the lives of young people and adults in Ireland for more than 100 years. It was given formal statutory recognition in the Youth Work Act 2001, which defines youth work as:
A planned programme of education designed for the purpose of aiding and enhancing the personal and social development of young people through their voluntary involvement, and which is complementary to their formal, academic or vocational education and training and provided primarily by voluntary youth work organisations.
Youth work is above all an educational and developmental process, based on young people’s active and voluntary participation and commitment. It is often defined as ‘non-formal education’. Youth work is for all young people, with particular focus on those aged 10 to 25 from all aspects of Irish life, urban, rural, all nationalities and social classes. Youth work is provided primarily by voluntary organisations, with statutory support from the Department of Education and Skills and the Education and Training Boards.
Our vision is for all of our young people to have ambition for themselves, to be confident individuals, effective contributors, successful learners and responsible citizens; and to be nurtured, safe, active, healthy, achieving, included, respected and responsible. We believe that youth work has a significant role to play in realising this vision for young people.
With a focus on process in which the active and critical participation of young people is essential, the methods adopted and the programmes and activities engaged in by youth workers and young people are very diverse, including:
The values of youth work match the purpose of education and are fundamental to the process, raising the confidence of individuals, their contribution to society, and their value as citizens. These values are
Youth work adds value to the lives of all young people, helping them develop lasting skills and attributes, and can particularly affect the lives of young people who are vulnerable or disadvantaged, or are most challenged by school. It can help to build confidence, provide role models, open up new experiences and give young people a sense of belonging.
For young people
Youth work is both educational and enjoyable; both fulfilling and fun along with those that take part have more opportunities and more options for the future.
Youth Work is about adults and young people working together, building community spirit and playing an active role in the development of their communities
Youth work tackles real social issues, it combats disadvantage, it enhances democratic life and it’s huge value for money!