Long walk from the door: A history of work with girls and young women in Northern Ireland from 1980

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In the late 60s and the early 1970s, Northern Ireland was thrown into a state of conflict due to political and civil unrest. This unique departure from the UK history, alongside the global influences of feminism & civil rights, had a direct influence on the shape and direction of youth work within Northern Ireland, and consequently work with young women. This paper draws upon historical documents and the reflections of those people most influential, to give a chronological and biographical account of the development of work with young women in Northern Ireland. Whilst the National Youth Agency was significant in the development of work with young women in the UK, YouthAction N.I. played this instrumental role in Northern Ireland. The influence of the agency and its workers are prevalent throughout this discussion. As we document the biography of work with young women, we highlight the social and economic trends that have left the work either in vogue or out of favour. We uncover times when the work has evoked passion and encountered aggression; when collaborative concepts and principles gave clarity to the development of practice, and where clashing ideologies raised questions that often led to re-examining the guiding principles and direction of the work. Having charted the distinctive journey for Northern Ireland, this paper offers insights into the evolution of contemporary work with young women and lessons for the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEssays in the history of youth and community work
Subtitle of host publicationDiscovering the past
EditorsRuth Gilchrist, Tony Jeffs, Jean Spence, Joyce Walker
Place of PublicationDevon
PublisherRussell House Publishing
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)978-1-905541-45-4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2009


  • young women
  • youth work
  • feminist theory
  • Northern Ireland


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