The National Youth Council of Ireland passionately believes in an Ireland where every young person in every community across the country is empowered through excellent youth work to realise their potential and actively participate in an inclusive society.
In 2018 fresh and innovative approaches to supporting and developing the youth work sector are needed as organisations embrace a signiﬁcant reform agenda, coupled with increasing legislative and policy compliance requirements, along with increasing needs and demands on services – and all of this against a backdrop of considerable ﬁnancial pressures.
The voluntary youth work sector in Ireland is large and dynamic, comprising more than 40 national organisations who in turn oversee a much larger number of local community-based projects, services and clubs that deliver services to young people on the ground. There also are many regional youth work organisations and possibly 100s of independent providers of youth work services to young people. The delivery of youth work in Ireland is unique in that volunteering is such a critical component in the delivery of the work and voluntary youth work organisations are the sole providers of youth work services. The sector employs more than 1,400 people and beneﬁts from the voluntary contribution of more than 40,000 people.
The sector is extremely diverse – from small local youth clubs to large national organisations. In the middle is a vast array of small and medium-sized organisations/groups that are specialist in nature. The specialisms are wide ranging from environment and youth drama to Irish language, faith based and those organisations working with particular equality and minority groups of young people. The unifying tie that binds all of these organisations together is that they exist to support young people to be the very best they can be.
The National Youth Council of Ireland’s strategic plan expresses our determination to represent and strengthen the voluntary youth sector. It recognises that while youth work is an educational and developmental process contributing positively to the development of young people, it is also enjoyable, fulﬁlling and fun! Youth work adds value to the lives of all young people by helping them build lasting skills and attributes; we know that those who take part have more opportunities and options for the future.
Youth work can particularly affect the lives of those young people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged, or are most challenged by school. It can help build conﬁdence, provide role models, open up new experiences and provide a sense of belonging.
Youth work is also about adults and young people working together building community spirit and playing an active role in the development of their communities whilst tackling real social issues, combating disadvantage, encouraging active citizenship, enhancing democratic life and of course it is value for money! An indecon report highlighted that every €1 invested in youth work beneﬁtted the state to the tune of €2.20 in the long run.