Interviews and Articles

Conversation with Graeme Tiffany relating to the values and practice of Detached Youth Work 


Article in CYPN detailing a major two-year study by Newman University which has found that street-based youth work can play a vital role in tackling violence among young people. 


Here is an article Pete Harris has published which looks at teaching improvisation in youth work...


download/Improvisation article.pdf


'Good Practice Stories'


South Central


Evaluation meeting

04/05/10 @ Greenhouse, Lodge Lane








Accessing and participation.


 Young people attended South Central YAG evaluation meeting, the following units attended the meeting:

v     Harthill Youth Centre.

v     Unity Youth & Community Centre.

v     Toxteth Sports Centre.

v     Penny Lane Connect.



A total of 16 young people attended the evaluation meeting

 8 females 7 males


Ethnic backgrounds: Black British/ white / British/ Black African / Caribbean


All young people were in the age range of 14 – 18 Year olds, Two Councillors also attended the meeting these were; Councillor Alan Dean (Labour party) and Councillor Rosie Jolly (Liberal Democratic Party). Youthworkers attended with their groups





























Agenda South Central YAG Evaluation meeting.


Welcome and Introduction.


Ice Breaker (Shoot the sheriff)


What South central YAG has achieved within the last six months.


What skills/ learning have you gained from the last six months?




Activity – Exploring your area and your understanding of politics.


User satisfaction survey.




What the meeting was about 



The Aim of the South Central meeting was for young people to identify what they had achieved over the previous six months within the YAG.

To work as a group

To identify their skills and learning

To explore the area and explore understanding of politics. It was also an opportunity to celebrate National Youth Work Week


 The meeting began by all sitting in a circle and going around introducing ourselves saying our name and what unit each young person/ staff was from.

A worker introduced the ice breaker which was Shoot the sheriff; this made all young people feel relaxed and comfortable before starting the meeting.




What has the South Central YAG achieved over the previous six months and what learning and skills have you gained from this?


These are the things that the young people identified as achievements this year for South Central YAG:


v      YAG residential –City Wide Question time

v     Meeting with councillors over YOF Money.

v     South Central Question time.

v     Black History Treasure hunt.

v     Childrens’ services -Young person of the year award.

v     Residential. Outdoor pursuit confidence building

v     Unity roof (£15,000 raised so far.)

v     Anti Racism course.

v     Girl’s workshop.

v     South Central fashion show 2009 - 2010-

v     Funding for girls room.

v     Got into YAG and now doing Voluntary work.

v     Planned and coordinated Question time.

v     Built relationships with other young people.

v     Area Camp.

v     Football coaching.

v     Doing level 3 youth work course.


Skills and learning gained by the young people:

v     Confidence.

v     Structure of funding bids.

v     Decision making and people skills.

v     Football coaching.

v     Public Speaking.

v     Event organising and co-ordinating.

v     Speaking and communicating with other young people and staff.

v     Working as a team.

v     Camera skills.

v     How to do outdoor activities e.g. water rafting.

v     Research skills.

v     Following instructions.

v     Jobs and applications.

v     Everybody’s got a voice.

v     Self esteem.

v     Social skills and meeting new people.

v     Listening skills.

v     Women’s position in society.

v     Politics and gender.

Exploring your area and exploring politics.


The aim of this activity was for young people, youth workers and local politicians to have a say about how they feel in and about their area and for them to have a say about their understanding of politics. This debate encouraged the participants to either agree or disagree on the given statement. If they were unsure they could stay in the middle of the room. Once participants decided what their opinion was the facilitator questioned the group on why they chose this answer. This made way for some deep and meaningful discussions especially when Politicians were given the role of a young person at risk and asked to now view the question as that young person.


The questions that were asked were:


Do you think that there are enough spaces, facilities/ things to do in your local area for young people?


The majority of the young people disagreed with this question. Some of the young people said that there is nothing in Aigburth. Young people thought St Michaels was too far away from Aigburth Vale for them to use


In general do you feel safe in your area?


Two people expressed the view that they did not feel safe at the moment as there were young children throwing fireworks around, people shooting at each other and houses getting petrol bombed.

The rest of the group agreed.

 They said that being part of a community made them feel safe


Do you think that we should have section 30’?

The majority of the young people/ staff and councillors all disagreed with this question. Adopting the role as a young person with a disability one councillor said he would feel safer if he was a wheel chair user if there was a section 30. In the role as a young person with mental health concerns a councillor said she may not know what a section 30 is.

Young people said that people make assumptions when they are in a group that they are going to cause trouble. And that they feel less safe when they are split up.


Do you think that young people have any way of influencing politics?


6 young people, staff and councillors all agreed on this question.  5 of the young people stayed in the middle and the rest of the group disagreed with this question.

One young woman said, there is a way that young people can but they don’t know how, young peoples issues are never on the agendas of council meetings, and it is never the main priority e.g. cuts from the youth service.



 At the end of the session one young woman gave a brief presentation to the group from the cultural ambassador group. She wishes to start a campaign for culture to be on the school curriculum and not just part of Personal Health and Social Education. The YAG agreed a further debate on this issue would be useful. This will be planned for December 2010 





Use one word to describe tonight’s session: Don’t repeat a word someone else has used


v     Decent.

v      Awesome.

v     Sick.

v     Alright.

v     Good.

v     Constructive.

v     Fun.

v     Team work.

v     Very positive.

v     Express full.

v     Good.

v     Informative.

v     Lots of fun.

v     Lots of diversity.

v     Knowledge.

v     Interesting.




South Central Question Time




The Aquatic centre















The South Central Youth Advisory group are a group of young people from across the area who come together every 6 weeks to identify issues that affect young people  in their area and participate and organize events and meetings to help make the area a better place for young people to live in.

 During a consultation in April 2010 the South Central YAG had decided that they wanted to hold their own area question time. This would involve a panel of councilors, police, housing, Merseytravel and professionals from other organizations. The aim of the event was for young people to sit with the panel and for the young people to feel empowered, for all young people to have a voice and for them to have their chance of asking the panel questions.

In order for the Question Time to take place the young people had regular YAG meetings, and within the meetings the young people discussed who they wanted on the panel, the venue, the lay out of the night and the publicity. The young people achieved this within the YAG meeting with the support of the workers.

The young people wanted two panels and two rooms in which each panel would be allocated. This would give each young people a chance to ask the panel a question and for the panel to answer.


 On the night of the event young people decided that when young people came they were to sign in, be welcome to a drink and to socializing with other young people. Each unit got split into groups and each group would be allocated to a room.  Each room had a panel of six professionals. Each room would have 30 minutes in order for young people to ask the panel questions, in which after the 30 minutes was up the panel would swap. Each room had a chairperson which was a young person from the YAG. All young people had a chance to ask the panel a question which was related to their area or their centre.


At the end of the Question Time meeting there was food and refreshments available and young people, youth workers and members of the panel were able to come together informally and chat.


The event went really well. Young people were satisfied as they got to ask the panel questions and that questions were answered.

All young people from the YAG were really proud of the event as all their hard work of organizing the event had paid off.





109 young people attended this event.

They came from Adopt Detached, Open Circle Detached, Morphine Dance School, Toxteth Sports Centre, St Michaels Youth Club, Methodist Youth Club, Unity Youth Club, Penny Lane Connect, South Central Youth Support Project, Harthill Youth Club, Harthill Splice project, Plus Dane Youth Forum, and Picton Detached film group.


Ethnic backgrounds identified: Czech / Black British / Black Caribbean, Black African, White British, Black Somali, Bangladeshi, Afro – Caribbean, and other


109 young people received a recorded outcome for participation


 The gender breakdown was 50 females  59 males



Panel and interlay


The whole point of this event was for young people to get answers from the questions they had .This was successful, but only because the YAG had worked as a group and discussed the questions that they thought other young people may have, and then invited the panel who they thought would be able to answer these questions

The panels comprised

Councilor Alan Dean - Chief Whip of Labour Group, Princes Park ward- Mersey Travel.

Councilor Tom Morrison – Liberal Democrat, Church ward – Chair of South Central Youth Sub Group

Sara Kearney - Mersey Travel.

Chester Morrison- Liverpool Youth and Play Service/ Principal Youth Officer.

Billy Maxwell- Neighbourhood Service Manager / South Central district

Delaney Millward- Youth Offending Service

Taher Qassim– Primary Care Trust -Manager.

Chris Murphy - Mersey Travel.

Julie Tomlinson - Plus Dane Housing.

Andy Wignall - Merseyside Police.

Jamal – Al Shabazz – Merseyside Police


In order for everything that the young people wished to happen on the night there was an interlay made.





Monday 20th September 6-9pm

At The Aquatic Centre Wavertree


6pm- Arrivals and registration


6.30 till 7.15pm- Question time (room 1& 2)


7.15 Till 8pm- Question time (Panel change room)


8 till 8.15pm - Evaluation, view evidence of work with young people.


8.15 Till 9pm - Food and refreshments.


9pm- Finish.











On the night of the event one young person in each room made notes of the questions young people put forward and the answers the panel gave back.

These are the questions that were put forward to the panel and the answers that were given.


 Why do Buses go past young people?

Chris Murphy “This shouldn’t happen; it may be that the buses are full but you are able to report this.”


Why do all the prices on buses go up despite environmental concerns?

Chris Murphy “Because of the fuel prices and the graffiti. There is a young citizen’s project. Why not bring it up with the government themselves. Young people’s fares are half.”


Why are there no activities?

Andy Wignall “There are, there is funding for climbing activities.”


Why is it from 16 you are considered as an adult on the bus?

Chris Murphy “At 16 you should be charged at student 16 not adult.”


Why are there section 30’s?

Andy Wignall “Because numerous complaints from the residents, also because of anti social behaviour. It is advertised on the Merseyside police website and leaflets are handed out. The idea is not just moving the problem on young people can go to youth clubs.”


Why have they started charging in the gym?

Tom Morrison “Labour councilors scrapped the free gym membership; Lib-Dems are campaigning for it to be free again.

Taher Qassim “Agrees they should be free because of concerns around obesity.


 Why do Childs day riders run out at 8pm?

Chris Murphy “Get a save away.”


Educational Maintenance Allowance cuts?

Tom Morrison “The Government was elected four months ago. Things are getting cut but he doesn’t think they are telling people the right things and scaring the public. There should be more communication, so he doesn’t know.”


Why is not everyone entitled to EMA?

Tom Morrison “Going to take details and get answers.”


What is the government doing for young business?

Tom Morrison “Vince Cable is making a speech on Wednesday.”


Paying for the GYM?

Alan Dean “The government cut it but they are trying to bring it back, it was the government and the local Council will bring it back when funds are found.”


Why was the tram scheme scrapped?

Alan Dean “Scrapped to fund the Olympics. Labour denied it.


What is going to be done with litter?

Billy Maxwell “Councilors changed the scheme, councilors trying to get it right with the companies working for the council.”

Alan Dean “Will look into it.”


With the cuts how will it affect teenage crime?

Delaney Millward “People will be hanging around the streets more because there is nothing to do.”


Why do bad kids get special treatment?

Chester Morrison “We try to make it fair, Youth Opportunity Fund; you could apply to lots of funds which are decided by other young people.”

Alan Dean “These kids may not have other opportunities.”


Why is the public transport price high?

Sara Kearney “ Merseytravel does not run transport, Business want to make money, privately owned. Young people have a say in Youth Parliament.”


What plans are there to refurbish the area to make it better?

Tracy “The area has priorities, Lodge lane, Granby etc. The housing associations will work with residents themselves to see what they want, maybe demolished and new or improved upgraded housing.

Billy Maxwell “State of houses, starting again, too bad to bring back all the houses.”

Alan Dean “80% of houses to be refurbished. Tenants do not want what the councilors planned, talking about new builds and demolishing terraces in Granby.”

With the cuts how are we going to be funded and how is this going to affect us?

Delaney Millward “Trying not to cut frontline services.”

Tom Morrison “No one knows what’s going to be cut.”




What can you do for our youth club?

Chester Morrison “Not just activities concerned about, not enough resources, willingness but no money. Looked at funding but none realized.”


Can’t you get enough money?

Alan Dean “There are cuts in money and fighting to keep youth clubs open.”


Immigration wants to catch illegal immigrants working then fine them?

Tom Morrison “Valued point, find out more how to fix problem, don’t know Parliament should.”


Participation/ Learning outcomes


v     Young people from across the area came together and shared their views learning about each other needs

v     Before the event young people from across the area  engaged in dialogue with youth work staff to identify issues that they would discuss at the event

v     Young people from YAG learnt about planning an event that gave them transferable skills in planning and organization, listening  and communication, customer service and IT skills

v     Young people from YAG learnt about publicity and marketing skills

v     Young people with disabilities participated rather than being segregated

v     Fresh box TV  taught 11 young people how to use video equipment to evidence the event

v     2 young people learnt how to chair an event and the role and responsibilities that go with this role

v     2 young people learnt reception skills and the importance of monitoring information

v     2 young people scribed the event and learnt the importance of capturing the information/ evidence


Key objectives achieved


Key Objective 2:

Through collaboration with partners, to provide and record the widest possible range of positive activities  and opportunities within existing resources



Key Objective 3:

To utilise resources so that all reasonable actions are taken to narrow the gap between children and young people of differing socio-economic circumstances.


Key Objective 5:

To ensure that the position of young people to make or influence decisions affecting their lives remains a central feature of the work undertaken by the business unit.





What did you think of the event?



J     Young people get to have their say.

J     Voiced our opinion.

J     Learned more about section 30’s.

J     Polite Panel.

J     Information on local areas given.

J     North Way Park mentioned.

J     Felt that we had power.

J     Having a voice.

J     Getting to ask questions that we want to ask.

J     Panel answered question as best as they could.




L     False promises.

L     Not enough time.

L     Hearing problems

L     Too hot.

L     No education

L     Felt like some of the panel was hiding behind other members when answering questions.

L     No respect from some young people.

L     Unsuitable rooms.

L     Never honestly straight answers.



What could improve?


«     Different location.

«     General overview on panel before hand.

«     More active session not just sitting.

«     Longer time periods.

«     Youth worker have a say on be half of young people.

«     Collection of questions pre prepared.




'What is Detached Youth Work' 

Detached youth work is a distinct form of work with young people. As with all youth work it uses the principles and practices of informal education to engage young people in constructive dialogue, within a broad agenda of personal and social development. The work is underpinned by mutual trust and respect and responds to the needs of young people. The basis of the relationship between the worker and the young person is mutual acceptance and parity. Traditional notions of adult power and authority are bought into sharp focus.
All youth work seeks to work on and from young people’s ‘territory’ (as determined by their definitions of space, needs, interests, concerns and lifestyles). Detached youth work, however, is distinct from all other forms of youth work as this concept of territory focuses primarily on the geographical: detached youth workers work where young people have chosen to be, whether this be streets, cafes, shopping centres etc. workers make contact with young people wherever they are. So detached youth work is often free from the constraints of centre based youth work – where buildings are specifically set up for the purpose of youth work. Detached youth workers don’t have to manage a building or property. This is not to say buildings won’t be used; indeed they sometimes become a feature of more developed practice. But in detached youth work, contact happens on the street, and relationships are developed there too.
Detached youth work is , above all, about working flexibly. As they don’t have to look after buildings they can use their geographical flexibility to best meet the needs of young people. They celebrate the uncertainty implied by an open ended way of working and value this for its democratic credentials. They recognize its effectiveness in engaging, in particular, with those young people whose lifestyles are sometimes chaotic and sit uncomfortably with order and prescription. 
The experience of many detached youth workers is that imposing an agenda acts as a barrier to working with young people, many of whom are already disengaged from formal learning.
The success of youth work comes from making good judgments in relation to these risks. Pushing too hard can distance young people. Not pushing enough can fail to challenge and inspire them. The agenda must, therefore, emerge from a mutually respectful relationship, where hearing the other’s voice is as important as articulating one’s own. The concept of negotiation seems to embody this; it does not suggest control, domination or license. It accords instead status to both parties and value to their opinions. A consensus thus emerges.

'Aims of Detached Youth Work'

The Federation promotes the following aims of good youth work as intrinsic to detached youth work;
Good detached youth work should aim to;
Be an agent of social change and social action, rather than social control;
Respect the voluntary nature of the relationship between the worker and young person;
Through negotiation and dialogue, challenge young people’s attitudes and behavior where they impact negatively on themselves and others;
Support meaningful participation of young people in political decision making processes and ensure their voices are heard;
Model such participatory values in all its interactions with young people;
Support the progressive personal development of all young people towards self advocacy through learning.

Detached youth work does NOT aim to;

‘Sell’ existing centre-based provision or other services to young people not accessing these services (we see this as out-reach work)- although if young people want to gain access to services, detached youth workers have a role to facilitate this.
‘Get young people off the streets’. It is easy to see detached youth work as a solution to a problem and a method for reducing the offending rates of young people by curbing or controlling their behavior. These outcomes may occur as a result of detached youth work interventions, however the Federation sees detached youth workers first and foremost as informal educators- others should also see this as our primary task. We can contribute to other agendas, but it is because detached youth workers are not tasked with crime or anti-social behaviour reduction or reintegration of young people into the mainstream, that they can build relationships that have the potential to have that effect. 

'The role of a detached youth worker'

The role of a detached youth worker is similar in many ways to that of his or her centre based colleagues and draws entirely on the values and approach of generic youth work. The FDYW feels, though, that there are certain characteristics that are particular to detached youth work.
The detached youth worker:

Establishes positive relationships with young people based on mutual trust and respect by going to where they are and engaging with them on a personal level in their territory.
Is the primary resource. They need to carry the structure of the youth work task around in their head, conveying its existence to young people by their actions (as there is no buildings or equipment to provide structure)
Has to gain the confidence, trust and respect of the young people and a measure of personal authority with (at least during the crucial initial phase) only their own experience, values, personality, knowledge and skills as resources.
Has no authority as a result of their control over resources or any trappings of status and can’t impose any sanction other than withdrawing contact. This allows relationships to develop with genuine mutual trust and respect and fosters honesty and personal responsibility.
In the light of potential misunderstandings of the role and having no immediately tangible structure, faces a real challenge in establishing their role in the eyes of the local community. The worker is more open to public scrutiny as they work in a public setting.
Is skilled in gaining respect in the community and from other agencies in order to advocate effectively for young people whose views may conflict with the agencies.
Sees young people operating without any constraints on their behavior and can be present when critical incidents occur. They are aware of the extent to which they can exert control over the environment. 
Is part of the social and physical environment that young people inhabit and, therefore, can better understand the effect this has on them.
Has to be able to deal with the specific demands of approaching young people in their own space and negotiating acceptance by the group in that space.
Is able to explain their specific role and the aims of the project therefore making young people aware of their professional boundaries. Where workers live and work in the same neighbourhood, this becomes essential, if young people are to understand when a worker is and is not accessible to them.
Encourages young people to participate voluntarily in the process of assessment, monitoring, evaluation and delivery of the service.
Has a grasp of the local political structure and understands how to enable young people to engage with it.

Copyright © 2014 - The Federation for detached youth work