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Youth and Community Worker

The role

Youth and Community Workers, as the name suggests, work with young people, and organise activities with the aim of boosting their confidence and helping them to learn new skills.

Working primarily with teenagers, they may act as mentors to young people, offer counselling and organise projects dealing with problems such as bullying. They could facilitate activities relating to sports, drama and other subjects.

On top of all this, they can coordinate teams of volunteers and part-time workers, manage budgets and apply for funding, and liaise with other local representatives such as teachers, social workers and the police to help achieve their objectives.

Youth Workers can be based in youth clubs, schools, religious centres such as churches, community centres or a Connexions centre. 

They may also go out to popular hangouts for teenagers, such as parks and street corners, working as ‘detached’ youth workers.

There are two main levels that candidates work at: professional Youth Worker, and Youth Support Worker.

How to become a Youth and Community Worker

A professional Youth Worker need a BA (Hons) degree or postgraduate qualification relating to youth work. These qualifications must be recognised by the National Youth Agency (NYA).

As course requirements are different between institutions, it is best to check with them beforehand.

Experience working with young people is essential, as jobs as a professional Youth Worker often demand at least a year’s worth of experience, paid or unpaid. This can be gained by volunteering as a Youth Support Worker. Local youth community centres are a good place to start enquiring about volunteering.

It is possible for volunteers and part-time Youth Support Workers to take work-based qualifications in the subject of youth support work, such as NVQs or City & Guilds. These could then lead onto full training for professional youth work.

Anyone working with children, paid or unpaid, has to pass background checks with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

The NYA has further information on courses and qualifications for achieving the levels of Youth Worker and Youth Support Worker.

Skills and knowledge required

  • Good people skills and the ability to build strong relationships with them
  • An open mind
  • Patience
  • Empathy and sensitivity
  • Strong communication skills
  • A sense of humour
  • Experience in activities such as sports and drama that interest young people

Income

Youth Support Workers, when full time, earn around £15,000 to £18,000 a year.

Qualified youth workers’ salaries are often between £22,000 and £28,000, while those more senior workers can earn upwards of £28,000, usually to around the £35,000 mark.

The hours

When a position is full-time, a Youth Worker usually works for around 37 hours a week, including weekends.

Useful websites

www.nya.org.uk - National Youth Agency (NYA)

www.ycni.org/ - Youth Council for Northern Ireland

www.lluk.org - Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK)

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