Coming of Age at Last? Youth Work, the Good Relations Legislation

Derick Wilson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Positive youth work practices that seek to develop trust and community understanding have been a reality in Northern Ireland since, at least, 1965. Although such work assists young people to develop self-confidence and prepares them for life in a more open and intercultural society, it has, until more recent times, tended to be peripheral in public policy terms across government departments, with some notable exceptions from Departments such as ‘Education’ and ‘Education and Learning’ and the Central Community Relations Unit (Eyben et al, 1997). The legal duty to promote Good Relations, the Shared Future policy initiative and the associated race relations plans have created a legal floor and policy platform on which to advance a more intercultural and interdependent society. They also provide an opportunity for innovative youth work practices to be acknowledged for their actual and potential contribution to the wider civic good. The Youth Service must examine the social purpose, reach and depth of its provision against the principles underpinning Good Relations policies – equity, diversity and interdependence. It must ensure that the individual, group and community work methods it employs are focused on personal development and on changing how society as a whole values and supports its young people. This article outlines the new legislative and policy context and explores theimplications – actual and potential – for youth work practitioners and providers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)45-59
    JournalYouth Studies Ireland
    VolumeVol 2
    Issue numberNo1
    Publication statusPublished - May 2007


    • Youth work
    • equity
    • diversity
    • interdependence
    • reconciliation
    • Good Relations.


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