Why Youth Work Works: Exploring its Personal and Professional Impact

Why does youth work, work? The Youth Advisory Committee Galway, which is a group of young people aged between 15 and 25 from various projects and clubs within the city and the wider county, began exploring that question through their European Solidarity Corps project in 2020. Producing a video which captures the far-reaching impact of youth work, the group showcase young people's stories and reflect on how youth work has influenced their lives, personally, professionally, and socially. Read on for their unique insights.

Who Are We?

We are a part of Youth Work Ireland Galway (YWIG) and the purpose of our committee is to raise awareness of YWIG in the community and to promote the organisation and youth work as a whole.

We undertook a European Solidarity Corps Project which we entitled ‘Why Youth Work Works’. We divided this project into two elements. First, we created a short film to showcase ‘Why Youth Work Works’. The second element is an event we will hold in the near future to further promote our aims.

We noticed that while people often discuss the profound impact youth work has had on their lives, platforms which showcased these experiences and stories were lacking. We decided to make a video with these stories at the forefront. We made a twenty-minute video during the current COVID-19 pandemic which included short video clips from past and present Youth Work Ireland Galway members and staff. Youth Advisory Committee Members Joseph, Jakub and Mary also shared their own fantastic youth work experiences.

 

Let's Discuss the Benefits

Our video highlighted the profound impact youth work has on all who are involved with it. From acquiring a new skill to making new friends, there is no end to the new experiences available to those who engage with youth work. Multiple participants noted the confidence that youth work gave them, allowing them to believe in their own abilities and to conquer fears.

There is something for everyone within organisations such as Youth Work Ireland. Whether your interests are  baking, art or anime, there are a wide variety of options. The main aspect of the youth groups is the chance for social interactions between the young people. All activities are youth-led, with the support of staff and volunteers. There is a clear message that through youth work, youth voices are heard!

Youth Video Stills 1

Let's Talk Youth Exchange

Youth exchanges are particularly memorable experiences for many young people. Why? Well, it allows them to meet other young people of a similar age and to learn all about a new culture. Indeed, it gives them the chance to forge friendships with people from all around Europe. Other opportunities such as European Youth Week allow young people to attend an event in Europe. It is amazing to see the benefits youth work has on young people all over Europe, not just in Ireland.

Let's Hear from a Youth Worker

We felt that it was extremely important to include youth workers in this video. After all, Youth Work wouldn’t work without them! YWIG Youth Worker, Nicola, explained five key reasons Why Youth Work Works; it’s fun, it’s participatory, it’s voluntary, it’s creative and it’s relational. Seeing a youth worker's perspective reinforced the fact that youth work has a positive impact on all that are involved with it.

Youth Worker Key Points


Let's Reflect on the Lifelong Impact

Our video has shown that youth work is not just important during the time that a young person is a member of a youth group, but for many years after. Even seeing the influence it had over future careers decisions was amazing. Even though some of the participants of our video had left the organisation years ago, they still have vivid memories of their youth work experience. The skills gained from youth work prove extremely beneficial throughout an individual's entire life.

Let's Consider the Feedback

It has been great to see the positive response we have gotten for this video. It has brought so many people together to reflect on their own experiences. Even throughout the pandemic, youth work has continued supporting young people through online meetings. We hope this video and its powerful message may encourage more young people to become involved with their local youth service. We would like to say a big thank you to Léargas and the European Solidarity Corps for giving us the opportunity to undertake this project.


To connect with the Youth Advisory Committee, contact them by Email, Facebook, or Instagram.

You can contact Suzanne or Noeleen if you’d like to know more about the European Solidarity Corps. We also welcome contributions to ‘Insights’ at comms@leargas.ie.


Images Credit : Vimeo stills and Pexels