Why start a youth group?

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Are you thinking of starting up a new youth group in your area? In this post we will look at some of the fundamental questions you need to know in order to shape your thinking. I have been emailed by youth workers asking me to write-up how to set up a youth group and what are the fundamental requirements involved in running a youth group/organization.

Before you get all excited and delve into the action mode, take a step back and really think about why you want to start-up a new youth group. Ask your self the following questions;

  1. What is it for?
  2. Who is it for?
  3. Where will it be?
  4. Is there a need?
  5. Who will manage?

Some people in the community may have different images of young people and youth centers/projects. Many people think that youth clubs are there to get young people of the streets and when they’re in there they just play pool and table tennis or just hang out. Whilst others have a totally different view of youth clubs as having an educational or personal development purpose, which enables young people to meet and interact with their peer groups.

Many see it as a place for young people to socialize and engage in their local community and make a positive contribution in the local community they live in. Others see it as enabling young people to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood through personal growth and offering person centered activities that challenges and stimulates the thinking of young people.

In my years of working in the youth and community development work I have seen many new organizations sprung up in the community and many being closed within a year or less. Why is that you may ask: well the question is very simple there wasn’t any planning or thought given to some of the fundamental steps that needed to be taken before setting up the organizations. It was done on impulse and emotions.

Try reflecting on the following descriptions to see if your views and ideas match as to what constitutes as being a good youth organization or what makes a good youth workers. You need to understand that it is important to explore this at an early stage before you take the next step.

What is a ‘good’ youth organization?

A ‘good’ youth organization provides safe, accessible environment for young people who choose to meet on a voluntary basis to socialize with their peers in an informal setting. A youth organization provides opportunities to develop skills and confidence, which embedded into the programme. Qualified youth workers and adults will support the youth organization, however it will be a place where young people have the opportunity participate in designing their own programme and activities whilst developing a sense of community and participation. The youth centre should be at all times clean, stimulating, fun, creative, comfortable and easy to get to. As young people become members they have an equal right of access to all the services and facilities offered.

What is a ‘good’ youth worker?

In my experience I believe that a good youth worker is someone who can set aside their own judgments, prejudices and can use their own interpersonal skills to inform and encourage young people to be aware of their rights, voice and their responsibilities to the wider community.

Below is some of the

  • A role model – young people will look up to you, copy your behavior, and take your advice
  • Acting in the place of their parents and carers when young people are in your care –with all the responsibilities that good parenting requires; but you are not replacing parents
  • Keeps boundaries to ensure you are not seen that way, whilst at the same time remaining approachable and accessible
  • Keep yourself and others safe, and work within the law
  • Recognize the limits of your role and expertise, and know when to seek advice and refer someone elsewhere
  • Work closely with others – officers in other youth and children’s workers, parents and carers, local community officers, and more
  • Keeps informed and up to date about practice – this includes making sure you are properly supervised, and doing regular training.
  • Provide support in building the individual and collective capacities of young people through promoting their skills, self-worth, creativity and enterprise.
  • They will encourage decision-making by providing information, enabling informed choices and personal development opportunities.

These are some of the qualities a good youth worker needs in order to provide a quality service to young people. It is fundamental that these skills are identified in order for you to support the youth organization and create long-term sustainability.

Now that we have established and explored the main part of why you want to start-up a youth organization we can move onto the other essential requirements that will be needed to run a successful youth organizations.

Below are the things that you might need to undertake before you start your journey:

Things to consider

  • Whether there is a need for a youth group;
  • What type of group it will be and its purpose in the area;
  • How to obtain helpers;
  • The important practicalities of getting started such as child protection and obtaining the appropriate insurance.

Survey

  • What provision already exists?
  • What are the interests and needs of the young people?
  • What premises might be available?
  • Do the young people want a youth group?
  • What community support is available such as resources and training?

Youth programme

  • What will your youth group or project do and what activities will it offer?
  • Will it have a structured programme of activities or be a ‘drop-in’ style youth group?
  • What size will it be or how many members will it be able to cater for?

I wish you all the good luck in starting up your new youth organization and if you need any support or advice please contact youthworknews and we will be happy to support you in any way we can.  Like always if you have anything to say please leave your comments below and if you would like to share your experience with us feel free to email your articles or suggestions.

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