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  • Writer's pictureDavid Whewell

Starting Out in Detached Youth Work

Many of you will be following the 'In Defence of Youth Work' FaceBook page but for those of you that haven't visited of late, there is a really good post (and replies) that provide some excellent thoughts and examples on "starting out in detached youth work".

Here is just a flavour:

Nayc North Avenue Detached youth workers - How do you first approach or engage with young people in detached youth work that you have never met before? How do you initiate a conversation? How do you explain who you are? We have been doing our groundwork and mapping the area, but this is the most challenging step for our workers new to detached and i would love to share your experience and ideas with them, Thank you


John Brock - walk up to them , introduction hiya guys , we are youth workers from XYZ how are you doing ?. or what you been up to ? usually gets a response ... sometimes it's go away or foff but especially at the moment with covid gets conversations started. Lolo LeahI often offer hot chocolates or something that interests them... Ask yps you know what interests them Charlie Bluglass - Lolo Leah the hot chocolate always worked well for us....I was known as ‘hot chocolate charlie’ for years. Stefi Morgan McCulloch- I have different examples, I was a detached youth worker for about 3 years. There are lot's of approaches that can be taken- depending on the setting-i spoke to all partners from mapping exercise first to make people aware we would be in the area and our purpose so that people in the community were aware in advance - any local grassroots orgs that people engage with on social media , good to get the word out. It was winter when I started in one particular community , dark cold, we would choose a spot and be present for a few nights until people got curious and approached us, always with a football and some coloring pens / paper to hand . First thing we would always get asked- are you police or social Work? Have a giggle, tell them no, give our names - who we worked for and explained why we were there.

You can access the 'In Defence' FaceBook page here

Also, access to further resources can be found on the FDYW website here

The FDYW also provides introductory and bespoke training (currently through webinars and online courses) for those of you who need support, help and guidance.

Please don't hesitate to contact us at

In Defence of Youth Work is a group that seeks to defend and extend youth work as a distinctive educational practice founded on a voluntary relationship with young people and shaped by their agendas as set out in our Cornerstones of Practice. see here

The Federation for Detached Youth Work exists to;

Improve the quality of detached youth work practice in the UK through its support; promotion and development. Advance the education and training of persons involved in detached youth work in the UK.  Improve understanding of detached youth work and its values in diverse policy arenas, other professional fields and wider society.

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