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One in five children in the Toronto Central LHIN experience mental health or behavioural disorders, but 80% do not receive the support they require.”Sources: TCLHIN, McMurtry , R., & Curling, A. (2008).  Review of the Roots of Youth Violence.



Within the broad spectrum of lifelong learning youth work has played a vital part in todays society. Its benefits to young people and closeness to their concerns mean that it is a profession often with insufficient public profile. Yet it has a significant impact, is highly valued by young people and is a very cost effective form of delivery.


Youth work is based on dialogue and relationship building. It is a sophisticated method of achieving personal and social development amongst young people. It was within youth work that the first concepts of interagency working were born and the need for greater integration of services was advocated. It is now essential within the context of integrated services that the role of youth work is fully appreciated and nurtured. 




                          History of Youth Work                                    












































A historical overview 111

Youth work has its origins in the clubs and projects set up by voluntary organisations – often with a religious intent –in the 19th century. Many of these early voluntary organisations, such as the YMCA and YWCA, the Scout Association continue to provide services for young people today.


State recognition for youth work dates from 1939, with the publication of Circular 1486 The Service of Youth, which urged all local education authorities to establish youth committees and to seek the co-operation of voluntary organisations in providing a comprehensive service. In so doing, the government acknowledged youth work as a part of local authority education provision and established what is now commonly known as the youth service. The partnership between different sectors remains key to the youth service, which has been described as a ‘complex network of providers, community groups, voluntary organisations and local authorities’.112


From its inception, statements about the purpose of youth work have consistently focused on its educational, as well as recreational, dimensions. In particular, they highlight its role in personal and social development and in equipping young

people to play a full role in society. The 19th century clubs provided opportunities for both association and instruction for

young working men and women. (Smith,1988; Davies, 1999). In the 20th century, a number of reviews of youth services

were initiated by government. The Albemarle Report described the youth service as:

an integral part of the education system, since it provides for the continued social and informal education of young people

in terms most likely to bring them to maturity, those of responsible personal choice.113


The Thompson Report114 reaffirmed that the ‘fundamental purpose’ of the youth service is ’to provide programmes of

personal development comprising in shorthand terms, social and political education’.115 More recently, the national

occupational standards for youth work define its key purpose as enabling young people to ‘develop holistically, working with them to facilitate their personal, social and educational

development, to enable them to develop their voice, influence and place in society and to reach their full potential.116

111 SpendingWisely: young people, youth work and youth services, NYA, 2006.

112 Transforming YouthWork. DfEE, 2001.

113 The Youth Service in England andWales: report of the committee appointed by the Ministry of Education in November 1958, HMSO, 1960: para 351.

114 Experience and Participation. HMSO 1982.

115 (HMSO, 1982: para 7.3).

116 YouthWork National Occupational Standards. Lifelong Learning UK, Feb 2008.

I had a black dog, his name was depression

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