Youth work and youth workers can play a central role in integrating young people and their communities Essay

Youth work and youth workers can play a central role in integrating young people and their communities. Critically discuss this statement with reference to your experience and practice. In this essay I will outline how Youth work and youth workers play a central role in integrating young people and their communities. Critically discussing my own practice and experiences. In this essay I will start by writing about youth work bringing in the concept of community work and its emphasis in integrating young people and their communities.

I will start off by writing about youth work and then write about the importance of youth workers critically discussing the two as I believe Youth work plays a central and important role in integrating young people and their communities but for this important and vital development it is important to point out the one who is the conveyor of this message in this case the youth worker. It is clear that the youth service are playing a key role in helping young people make a positive contribution to their communities, through supporting their involvement in decision making and shaping local services, volunteering, and reducing anti-social behaviour’ (NYA,2007)

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Youth work has been around for a long time the identity of early youth work was when young men left their homes to go to big town from this emerged youth culture in urban areas in later years the YMCA and Scouting was formed and the main aim of YMCA and other organisations was to address issues concerning young people and always providing for them By 1959 British government looked in to youth work and the national response to catering for young people led to the government producing a report called the Albemarle report’ (Ewen J. 1975) Which outlined the need for local government agencies to take responsibility for providing extra curricular activities for young people and out of this report the statutory sector of youth work was born.

Today youth work (as outlined in the Transforming Youth Work document released in 1998 by the DfES) it is the statutory duty of all local government organizations to provide a youth service in their region. Also for the first time the youth service has national targets that have to be met with regard to the reach (initial contact) with young people, the number of relationships developed with young people and the number of accredited learning programs achieved through the youth service. (www. infed. co. uk)

Thus referring to the question if how youth work integrates young people and their communities I would say it integrates young people and their communities on various levels with the scale of the shift, towards accreditation and curriculum delivery set out in the transforming youth work document and every child matters framework. (Every Child Matters, or ECM for short, is a UK government initiative that was launched in 2003, It has been the title of three government papers and led to the Children Act 2004.

Its main aims are for every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, to have the support they need to: * Be healthy * Stay Safe * Enjoy and Achieve * Make a positive contribution * Achieve Economical Well Being This means that the organizations involved with providing services to children – from hospitals and schools, to police and voluntary groups am so on – will be teaming up in new ways, sharing information and working together, to protect children and young people from harm and help them achieve what they want in life.

Making reference to (Ledgerwood and Kendra, 1997) ‘Educative-enabling young people to gain skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to identify, advocate and pursue their rights and responsibilities as individuals and as members of groups and communities locally, nationally and internationally’ this shows youth work plays a important role in integrating communities and its people. However being critical and talking about the every child matters agenda and its emphasis on youth work some may argue that they is no or little emphasis on how youth work practice can integrate communities and there is no mention on community.

Butters and Newell (1978) who suggested that there were in fact three main perspectives in youth work. The first they stated was character building where the thinking behind this approach was to integrate young people into society through adequate ideological training. The second approach was the social education repertoire mainly through community development where if young people were given more of a say in what happens in a community then they would feel more part of it and hence less crime would be occurring as a result.

Finally they stated that institutional reform was important as it involved mobilization of individuals and groups to work for structural changes and the extension of rights. All of these things may have been said over thirty years ago, but have come into fruition now especially with the third element where the youth parliaments have allowed young people a voice in which to connect with the governing bodies and more importantly with those making the decisions that affect young peoples lives.

An example of a this is the BKYP, Bradford-Keighley Youth Parliament. BKYP aims to give young people living in the Bradford Metropolitan District, between the ages of 11 and 21 years old a voice, young people are heard and listened to by local and national government, service providers for young people and other agencies who have an interest in the views, needs and concerns of young people.

Young people elect members from their area where they reside to present them and voice they concern and views from the young people elected a group is formed. Ideas and suggestions are put together by individual in the group and put forward to different agency’s within the youth and community setting thus again one of the core values and aims of youth work is to empower young people in making decisions. Empowering-supporting young people to understand and act on the personal, social and political issues which affect their lives, the lives of others and the communities of which they are part’ (NYA 1995) As from my example of BKYP this empowerment can be achieved through young people forming and facilitating groups themselves and taking account for their area and environment their live in as well as the society they live with and how to improve and accept it.

Therefore one of the main purpose of group work in a youth and community setting is so that young people come together form a group of power to influence they society they live in as collective identity of young people shows empowerment and individual identity cannot show any empowerment to change issues locally and internationally. Thus referring back to the question and the matter of every child matters even though the term community has not been mentioned, in the government youth work now is changing and there is a slight involvement of community.

Referring to the question how youth work plays a central role in integrating the community another example which I can show from my own experience is from one of the session at my first year placement where young people where asked about their area and what they thought of their communities and how issues such as anti-social behaviour and drugs should be tackled. Another example of how youth work plays an important role in integrating young people and their communities is an example from my second year placement.

This is where a member of the community offered to help out and gave a encourage talk about education to the young people at the school, this person of the community was seen as a role model and a lot of the youngsters looked up to this, he was young, smart and had a flashy car and all for the good reasons he was a Marathon Runner for Great Britain. (See appendix 1) ‘However, new methods of service delivery seem to offer a greater prospect Of success and there must be a clear aim of reaching out to disaffected youth in more engaging ways.

Perhaps by using peers, positive role models and individual capacity building programmes. (Cantle 6. 33) Thus referring back to the question Youth work methods such as this one of involving community role models helps integrate young people and their communities and makes them realise how members from the same community have achieved hence having a influence. Youth work now magazine writes role models from a community where young people seem to be causing a problem can help young people from that community to come together and look up to a certain individual helping them to integrate back in to society and the community having a positive outcome

However one may argue that the identity of such Role models and youth workers may damage relations and it is important to get the right sort of people for such type of work. It could be argued that many people wouldn’t agree with my point view of engaging with young people through such engagement methods. As different youth workers as to opposite backgrounds from the young people could cause tensions within certain groups or individuals within young people.

The MCB Muslim council of Britain has a strong empathise on understanding the need of young people and believes the identity of young people is key and if possible should reflect the identity of the worker or the worker in this case Teachers, Mentors, Youth workers should have knowledge of needs of the young people. (www. mcb. org. uk) (Appendix 2) Being critical and following up the question to make youth work methods work and to integrate communities it is important, the worker has knowledge on that community and how that certain community work. or another example if a white worker was working in a Asian community he would be seen as a spy or a informant for the government as it has been said the Asian community is one of a tight nit community and a community but things are gradually changing youth workers and community workers are having a effect on tackling such issues as extremism and community cohesion. Glass (2005) says Community development takes time. Disadvantaged communities have to be persuaded to participate, and their natural suspicion leads them to hang back until there is something to show.

So the “local” Sure Start programmes (as the DfES took to referring to them) have always been behind schedule, and – a mortal sin under New Labour – underspent. I believe this is due to a strong emphasis of understanding the needs of young people and communities made by the government in numerous initiatives. Again referring back to the question but this time talking about how youth workers can play a central role in integrating communities by understanding the needs of that community and reflecting such needs in its stride.

Another point one could argue would be some young people would not take part in certain activities such as sport or drawing pictures as this would be against there religion or culture or certain religions might say not to socialise with gay or lesbian groups this again would mean to make young people understand and educate young people on the values and beliefs of certain groups and how to respect and obey these groups as there are too are part of society this bring once again referring back to the question of integrating young people in their communities it shows that youth and community work can bring good relationships between people from different cultures and religions by such activities young people learn about society and the acceptance of ones religion,colour,culture or ‘race’.

For example group work in a youth and community is to bring social action and challenge oppression one of the key aims and values of the purpose of youth work For an example anti-bullying campaign or kick racism our of football campaign are groups where young people get involved in to tackle such problems their have themselves are experiencing or if other people are experiencing. ‘the achieving of external change, of encouraging social action in the community in the pursuit of social change goals’ (Preston, 1987)

Also young people can form groups to want a change in the area they live for an example young people form a group in a youth club and put their views forward in wanting sports facilities in their area or other improvements in their area. ‘Social action groups aim to challenge the received assumption concerning the powerful and powerless, i. e. hope to achieve improvements in their environment and living conditions’ Again showing youth work engagement methods can integrate communities by making young people aware of what’s happening around them and how they can contribute to society. When talking about youth and community work practices and how it integrates young people in their community in my personal learning experiences.

I have discovered different aspects and theories to youth and community work and how it integrates young people and how to apply such practices and methods in my personal experiences like when doing voluntary work and projects and one of the main project I was involved in was a project called ‘ballistic zone’.

This was made up by the youth who were involved in this project the aim of the project was to bring in youths off the street after school, to educate them about vandalism, street crime, different background and religions disrespect to our community and what they thought of the social issues affecting them. They responded quite well, we did this by setting up different activity such as Setting up sporting activities the main purpose of this was to help young people from ethnic minorities and religiously diverse youth as well as other groups such as physically disable to come together and play under a set of rules as a team and unite as one.

As well educating young people and helping them communicate with a different range of other young people so they can achieve stronger relationships and learn about one another in a enjoyable and creative way. Thus fitting in with the governments increased agenda of community cohesion. A key point is that the government addressed was around anti terrorism measures, which have been ongoing since 2005 and the tragic events of London. The key emphasis has been to try and educate young Muslims away from radicalisation and extremism and into popular youth work. This has been one of the very times where youth workers and community workers as well as people in the community have come together. It is where young people have been the focus of not only the community and youth workers but also members of the community itself.

Also it was a major turning point on The degree program where a new Qualification was made Muslim Youth Work BA HONS the first Degree of its kind in the world where modules consisted of different issues and more centrally based on religion and understanding needs of Young people and their communities. It is important to mention when trying to work as a community worker to bring about change these issues must be carefully addressed so that youth work and youth workers can integrate young people and their communities. The tension will always be there because of the different agencies involved with their own interests but the role of the community worker here is to make sure that the project does not suffer and that the issues are dealt with in a open arena.

Take for example a youth action project may include the police, youth workers and nurses. All these come with different agendas, youth workers looking at informal education and welfare, nurses on health and police officers on law enforcement and crime prevention. (Banks et al 2003) All of these different agenda have to be carefully managed in order for the project to be successful. Each agency must understand the importance of the project as a whole and be able to communicate any issues that it has with the other agencies. This is where the community worker can get stuck in the middle, between the different agencies and stuck in with inter-agency politics instead of being out in the community.

Take for example the planning of a new project, does the worker go for a big and high profile project that will involve the whole community but may not be very effective due to the fact that it may never reach its goals. Or does the worker settle for the small project that will enable him/her to achieve the desired outcome and be able to address a certain issue that the community has raises like youth ‘hanging about on the streets’. This causes the community worker to face the fact that he either has to work with all the community, which he is likely to get more funding and support for, or just to focus on an achievable project like talking the youth ‘boredom’ that is happening. Again referring back to the question of how important it is for youth work and youth workers to work along side communities helping them to achieve together.

Thus referring back to the question Sport also pays a major part in a young person discipline this is one of the main purposes of youth work helping young people achieve and overcome personal issues such as self discipline and respect for other faiths and cultures through a creative environment as well as staying healthy and enjoying and achieving as well as integrating young people in their community. For example the local mosque where I live holds regular Football tournaments in the community sports fields this a great opportunity for all members off my community to get involved.

Prior to the tournament girls in Not In Education or Training in the local community are contacted through the connexion workers and where asked if they where interested in taking part in doing cooking classes from this formed a group of 5 girls who attended the course and at the end sold food at the football tournament. The tournament also gave a chance to local business people in the community to come together and put their stalls up.

The football tournament has been running for over six years and with the money raised and through government funding my local community has benefited from a purpose built community centre where not only young people can come together but also there is a cri??che, elderly day centre and a business meeting point for local business people who want to use the computer and printing facilities. Again referring back to the question youth work methods play an important role in integrating communities. Furthermore From my personal learning through out the course I have applied such practices and values youth and community work to integrate young people and their communities.

A good example would be from my voluntary experience whilst on the course at a local youth centre where on certain days I would set up activities such as drawing and lyric and rap writing in a way so that young people could express there views through drawings and words on what there opinions and views where on personal social and politically issues affecting them around their environment their was living around So there could voice opinion this helped a lot as one of the main purposes of youth work is to listen to young people and take their views in to account rather than young people listening and doing as their told from a youth worker as it is stated in the elsdon early 21st century youth work is all about ‘Empowering-supporting young people to understand and act on the personal, social and political issues which affect their lives, the lives of others and the communities of which they are part’ (Eldon, 1995)

It could be argued that many people wouldn’t agree with my point view of engaging with young people through such activities. As different ethic minority groups coming together could cause tensions within certain groups within young people. Another issues would be some young people would not take part in certain activities such as sport or drawing pictures as this would be against there religion or culture or certain religions might say not to socialise with gay or lesbian groups this again would mean to make young people understand and educate young people on the values and beliefs of certain groups and how to respect and obey these groups as there are too are part of society.

It can be argued that whilst youth work has seen a change in its practice the key aspects of it are getting demolished which I have learnt though the studying the course some key aspects of youth like relationship, association and learning workers within local youth services will have their work cut out. ‘In a similar way, the professional identity of youth service workers will become increasingly wrapped up with those of trainers and teachers within formal education. Second, the freedom to actually engage in youth work (as against case-management and tutoring) within state youth services, Over the last few years a growing proportion of many youth workers’ time has been eaten up by increased paperwork, the management of staff and in ‘co-ordinating’ activity. Not only will this process be accelerated, but the fundamentals of youth work will be further eroded. ‘ (Jeffs, T. 2002 p. 126)

Thus making it hard for youth work to play a central role in integrating young people and their communities for example as youth worker do you work with young people or do you involve the community as whole in the process I would argue this case in my opinion as the youth service now offers young people with a variety of services to get involved in such as education, training and employment. It is working more closely with schools and local communities for example, many hard to reach communities are benefiting from small projects where all members of the community can take part. From a personal experience at the local mosque I attended part of the main hall now is a youth base and elderly day care centre. It attracts the local community in many different ways and it integrates the community on many levels on a small scale and on a large scale.

Another example I would like to point out is the stop the war campaign where many people from my community took park in the national demonstration in the name of stop the war campaign it made young people aware of what was happening in their community. Many would argue that the Bradford riots helped young people and communities to work together and young people where seen key to the agenda of community cohesion one youth worker in NYA article says ‘Often in the youth service we feel like the fourth emergency service and the events this summer saw us taking on this role on a much larger scale’ I would agree with the above statement and in coming to a conclusion I will refer to the cantle report where it says A well-resourced programme of engaging young people in the decision-making process affecting their communities should be established, possibly by developing the youth parliament scheme. The form of engagement should respect the needs and style of young people, not replicate existing institutions.

The aim should be to develop a permanent and robust infrastructure with direct access to policy makers at a national and local level. ‘ (Cantle 6. 29) In summarising and going back to the question I believe that Youth work and youth workers can play a vital role in integrating young people and their communities however there are many obstacles in the way of youth work methods and the youth worker it self.

To make integration work young people need to be involved in the process of decision making in their local communities, in a way this has happened through Youth Parliaments so it is happening but I would argue youth workers are now getting tied up with a lot of paper work and targeted work. I would argue strongly at times youth work and young people are put to a side and the policy makers have their own agendas and pots of money are given to the wrong people or wrong areas, so for youth workers and youth work methods to play a central role in integrating young people the methods need to involve young people and their communities and the youth workers themselves need to be trained up and have knowledge on communities and meeting the needs and understanding the needs of the community thus making integration work.