Detached youth workers are often considered "practitioners with access" (Tiffany, 2007), that their practice reaches ‘the parts others workers cannot reach’. The premise is: many of the young people detached youth workers engage with are failing to access services elsewhere – and this makes them ‘hard to reach’ and ‘at risk’. Certainly, the worker’s presence in the places these young people choose to be confers the special status: "privileged witness of social reality" (Dynamo, 2008), and this cannot be said of many other service providers. But what does this mean for practice?
Should the detached youth worker be working on the fringes? Does this make them peripheral, or radical? If so, how, and why, should they do this work? Might this suggest they always were, and should increasingly be, a targeted provision – working with those with multiple and complex needs? Or should their role simply be locating young people, and referring them on to others? Who then should determine those detached youth workers work with? Should this be their responsibility, the choice of young people, or that of a data-based system increasingly confident in its ability to identify who the needy are?
Does the suitability of detached youth work to work in these contexts (including those of mental ill health, crime, sexual exploitation, drug misuse, and transition from care – to name but a few) imply a responsibility to be more selective about who their clients are, or should detached youth work be a community-based practice seeking to strengthen preventive and protective measures at a neighbourhood level?
Come and explore these and other questions at the annual conference of the Federation for Detached Youth Work at Trafford Hall, near Chester, The conference is open to anyone with an interest in detached youth work and in learning more about its practice and possibilities.
For further details and bookings;
Visit website: www.detachedyouthwork.info
Mob: 078 0422 3485 (Tuesdays and Thursdays 9.00am – 2.00pm)
Full Residential Cost:
£349/£ 299 – single/ shared rooms
(Incl. accommodation and meals)
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