Youth Work in Northern Ireland: An Exploration of Emerging Themes and Challenges

Ken Harland, Anthony Morgan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper presents the findings of a recent research project which explored the perceptions of youth workers in Northern Ireland of the nature and purpose of their work and their attitudes towards a number of important current issues, including the role of youth work in combating social exclusion, the measurability of youth work outcomes, the relationships between trained professional workers and volunteers, the place of youth work in schools and the tensions associated with practising youth work in a 'post-conflict' society. The paper reveals that while youth workers attach immense importance to relationship-building and attending to process, they appear to have difficulty identifying more concrete or measurable outcomes from their work with young people. The youth workers see their practice as being increasingly shaped by external factors such as the funding environment, policies for formal education, social exclusion measures and the persistence of sectarian social divisions. The authors suggest that youth workers have an opportunity to secure greater recognition for the value of their work by articulating its benefits more clearly, but they caution that funders and policy-makers should be realistic in their expectations given the scale of disadvantage and disaffection experienced by many young people.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4-18
    JournalYouth Studies Ireland
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 20 Oct 2006

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