#iwill, Social Action and Youth Work

23 Nov 2018

After another hugely successful #iwill week recently we look briefly at the part that Social Action has to play in youth work, its benefits, and provide a comprehensive guide on how to get involved courtesy of our friends at #iwill.

There is a common misconception amongst much of the public that associates youth work with merely being something that takes place in a centre, and provides a distraction or diversion for children so that they don’t go onto the streets; the cliché is that a pool table in a youth centre will keep children from exposure to gang behaviour. Whilst there is an element of truth in this, there is so much more that youth work does, and so much opportunity it provides. One of the way this is most evident is through ‘social action’.

we know that young people are more likely to engage in social action, and to continue involvement in it if it is in something they’re really interested in. Incorporating youth social action which builds on young people’s interests into youth work therefore allows young people to own a project and to shape it around something that is already important to them. Doing this is a sure-fire way to increase the chances of good outcomes and long-term engagement.’ – Leigh Middleton, NYA CEO

In short, social action is where people and communities come together to work towards the community’s needs, or to solve problems that become evident for either individual, collective, or societal good and not for profit. As a part of youth work, youth social action therefore has the ability to; strengthen community ties, to encourage young people to take ownership of a project from conception through to delivery, and acts as a platform for young people to think about themselves and their community in a wider sense, helping young people to understand how certain actions have certain consequences and giving participants a better understanding of cultural and social issues. It has also been frequently proven that involvement in social action increases a young person’s wellbeing[1]. Social action thus has a double benefit, both at a personal level and a wider communal / societal benefit, as shown in the following video:

If social action is something you are interested in, then please see the attached guide from our friends at #iwill with a little more information, further contact details, and good starting points for embedding it in your youth work.



[1] Ipsos Mori, National Youth Social Action Survey (2017); and, Behavioural Insights Team, Evaluating Youth Social Action (2016).