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Youth and Community Work MA students have their say

MA Youth and Community Work Tuesday 10 November 2015

The theme of this year’s National Youth Work Week is ‘have your say.’ This week, our MA Youth and Community Work students got together to have their say on the power of youth and community work, and the vital role it plays.

Caris McElveen said: “Youth Workers can help young people develop long lasting, self-sustaining skills. The relationship between young people and youth workers is unique – it is about being with them where they are.  That relationship has the potential to be transformative and have long lasting effects well into adulthood.”  

Laura Budd has placement experience of both a community and county council services. She said, “At the moment, I think there is not enough recognition of the structural conditions that can impact on and dictate people’s lives. I think that element is what’s missing from the conversation right now, and what the government should be concentrating on. The role of a Youth and Community Worker is to help people think of themselves in positive terms and not buy into an approach that looks at people in terms of deficit.”    

As the government’s funding cuts have seen some youth work provision reduced to twelve or six-week programmes, the students are calling for changes.

Zilan Liao said: “Youth work has to be a long term investment. At the moment youth work programmes run for six or twelve weeks. However, the young people don’t stop – they are still there, they still need something to do, and need people to help them and fight for them no matter what the UK financial situation is.”

Florence Nekesa has worked with youth groups in both the UK and Uganda: “We have to acknowledge that there is a lot of politics surrounding our work, no matter what country we are in. Youth and Community workers have to constantly adapt their ways of working depending on the changing politics and funding. It is difficult, but we need to be there for our young people - if we shut doors on young people now, where will we find our next generation of leaders?”

Beth Jenkins is about to start a placement with Addaction as part of the course. She said: “What I really like about this course is the chance to work in different environments and build up insight into what is happening across the whole spectrum of community work.  Our course is very practical, which is preparing us well for the practicalities of supporting young people, families and individuals in a different contexts.”    

Heather Preshaw is about to start her first placement at St Luke’s Church in Everton. She said: “I came across a saying the other day that said ‘helping one person won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that person.’ I think that perfectly describes youth work. Youth workers are in a unique position, where they are a bridge between education and social work. There is so much potential for impact on the lives of young people, and a key part of our role is to help young people realise that they have a voice – which they shouldn’t be afraid to use - and that they matter.”

MA Youth and Community Work (available full and part time)

Department of Social Work, Care and Justice



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