YWW Guest blog: Anna Smee on celebrating great youth work

9 Nov 2016

It’s time to celebrate

Anyone who has the opportunity to see youth work in action knows the vital and vibrant service it provides young people, local communities and our society as whole.

As CEO of UK Youth, I have the privilege of witnessing examples of fantastic youth work every day. From one of our Members in Oxford running a gender empowerment programme to raise vital awareness within a local community, to a Member in Devon providing much-needed relief to young carers; the sheer breadth of youth work is what makes it so incredible.

Despite challenges to the sector we’re proud to continue to invest in programmes that apply traditional youth work methodology combined with innovative subject matter. In the past week alone, hundreds of young people have taken part in UK Youth programmes delivered in partnership with community based youth organisations. These include Generation Code, Road Code, Active Youth, Money for Life and NCS Urban Adventure.

All of our initiatives, whether delivered nationally or locally, are designed to take young people on a Social Development Journey that empowers them to Get involved (Social engagement), Grow and learn (Social Learning), Give back (Social Action) and Gain independence.

The youth organisations in our network have all signed up to this approach as part of the UK Youth Pledge, which also sets out how we promise to put young people at the heart of everything we do:

  1. We work with young people to help them uncover their own needs
  2. We empower young people to create their own journey
  3. We support young people through the their journey
  4. We record and celebrate success
  5. We turn success into action

While some young people will start at the beginning of the Social Development Journey, others may join when they’re looking to fill a skills gap, for example. But wherever they enter, it’s important that everyone young person has a safe space to grow, learn, try, fail and then try again. And that safe place is often best provided by local youth organisations, staffed by experienced youth workers and volunteers.

Youth work is crucial to empowering young people to develop into happy, secure adults and gain independence. The work youth organisations do on a daily basis plays a vital role in helping to create vibrant communities and a sustainable society.

During NYA Youth Work Week, let’s stop and reflect on the positive impact of what we do. Now is the time to promote all forms of youth work and recognise those who lead the way in our field and change the lives of young people for the better. Thanks NYA for helping to put the spotlight on the sector and recognise best practice.

We want to continue this recognition next month at The UK Youth Awards. If an organisation or young person you know deserves national recognition for the work they do, or what they have personally achieved through being involved in youth work activities, please let us know. We would love to celebrate them at The UK Youth Awards at Buckingham Palace next month. Time is running out to enter, so visit the website and submit your application now!


Anna Smee is CEO of UK Youth.