A new model of youth work involving intensive outreach work with the most excluded young people often through street work where identifiable youth workers reach out to young people in very vulnerable situations was launched by Minister for Children & Young People, at Youth Work Irelands Consensus Conference Equality 17 in The Royal Hospital Kilmainham, on October 21st.
The Detached Youth Work Programme run in Youth Work Ireland Cavan Monaghan is an outreach programme that engages with vulnerable and socially excluded young people and helps them connect with supports that will aid them in addressing their needs and achieve sucessful outcomes.
The model, which has been initially supported in Cavan and Monaghan, prioritises work on Friday and Saturday nights between the hours of 7pm and midnight. Youth workers target “hot spots” and build relationships with young people, some of whom can be at risk in these areas. The focus of the project is for youth workers to encourage and facilitate young people at risk of anti-social behaviour, criminal behaviour, risky sexual conduct and substance misuse in to more structured engagement and projects. Since the programme has been running Youth Work Ireland Cavan Monaghan, it has made a significant impact on the community.
Speaking at Equality 17, Jack Smity (16) said “The detached programme contributes to equality as it reaches out to the harder to reach young people on the streets, the detached workers treat all young people the same, they don’t know who they are approaching when they first meet a young person but they still stop and talk and get to know the young person. Geographic isolation is a big problem in Ireland, in particular where I live which is a rural town in Co Cavan and many other smaller towns in Cavan rural isolation is a big problem. The detached programme allows us to talk, allows us to open up a bit about what we want or feel the area needs in order for us as young people to feel valued. This does make us feel equal as when we are listened to and the things we look for are put in place we really feel listened to. Detached in Ballyjamesduff has helped me to build relationships with the youth workers and get involved in youth cafes, programmes and committees that I would not have been involved in ever before”
The Detached youth worker’s goal is to improve the outcomes of youth lives in the short term as well as the long term by focusing on their individual well-being and their social interactions in the community in which they reside. This includes working to improve the youth’s self-esteem, self-awareness, and empowerment. Building individual confidence in the youth helps the youth in the future because they will then be more independent, less inclined to engage in high risk behaviour, and have better overall health.
The social implications for the youth include more stable family life, improved well-being, and increased community cohesion. In the long term, the youth are more likely to stay in school, so they are more likely to have better jobs and the community overall will be safer.