Collaborative vision for youth work celebrated by Commonwealth members

A leading journalist has praised the increasing professionalisation of youth work.

Youth Work Week, a fifth annual initiative by the Commonwealth Secretariat, was celebrated from 6 – 12 November to highlight theachievements of youth workers and organisations throughout the 52 Commonwealth member countries.

Youth work is defined as a profession which builds, and supports, personal awareness, social, political, and economic empowerment of young people, through the delivery of non-formal learning in rights-based youth engagements.

During an event at marlborough House, Westminster, this year’s theme, ‘Promoting professional recognition for youth work’ was praised by Emily Howarth, Deputy Editor of Youth and Children’s work magazine.

“The professionalisation of youth work means good practice and holding people to account, checking in, and making sure people receive the training that’s needed,” said Ms Howarth.

The 35-country base-study event attracted the participation of dignitaries and leaders from country members of the Commonwealth, keen to discuss a topic high on their global and national agendas.

Youth work benefits young people, but has also been proved to have a positive impact on institutions and society.

It has been shown to have a correlation with the direct contribution to reducing youth-related demands on social services, and promoting inter-generational equality, and national development when adequately funded and resourced.

Recent financial cuts have seen the purse strings tightened on government run organisations causing a strain on the level of funding available to youth workers.

Ruth Jackson, digital and print editor of Youth Work and Children’s magazine, said: “A lot of the time you’re seeing a lot of people rise to fill those gaps, and a lot of the time it’s charitable organisations or religious institutions.

“Sometimes they’re a better place to do that because they have a better understanding of the locality of people’s needs.

“Sometimes is difficult because they don’t have the funding behind them.

The open dialogue and discussions for youth participation highlighted the importance of a collaborative approach to progression, and growth, amongst work with a younger generation needing support.

Dr Josephine Ojiambo, deputy secretary-general of the Commonwealth, said: “Some of the direct contributions from the Commonwealth to youth work include the direct delivery of the diploma in youth development work through regional centres.

“Support through external regional moderation and tutor training for the diploma for up to 27 universities and training institutions across the Commonwealth.

“Support for the establishment and strengthening of youth workers across the commonwealth and these associations safeguard the equality and integrity of the profession.”

Dr Brian Belton, YMCA George Williams College and lead writer of Youth Work Baseline, said: “The focus of youth work is creating and sustaining situations and environments, within which young people can express themselves, discover, and hone the assets they have, this is what youth workers are tasked with.”

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