Envisioning Our Young People as Citizens of a Shared Society and an Interdependent World. The Current and Future Task of the Youth Service In Northern Ireland

Derick Wilson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    In 1973, in the midst of violence in Northern Ireland, there was a need to explicitly articulate the importance of central values and principles informing the development of professional training for community youth work practitioners. In 2015, if staff, volunteers, organisations and institutions are to sustain a voluntary and statutory youth service that is future oriented and locally promotes the concept of young people within a shared society, there is still the need to explicitly articulate certain fundamental principles of fair treatment, (equity); valuing difference (diversity) and promoting experiences about our mutual interdependence (interdependence) as being central to youth work practice. Such principles need wedded to core practice values of respect, humility and non-violence and aligned to a form of practice that empowers staff, volunteers, young people and members of governing boards exercising their power of human agency to work towards this vision. This text argues that, without any equivocation, we continually and explicitly assert the central importance of building relationships with and between different young people. Relationships, if they are open, inclusive and accepting, are central to our personal development and identity as human beings and are the transformative centre of the lives of young people and ours too, as practitioners. Such relational understandings, when they underpin our informal educational practice and the working practices and cultures of our organisations serving young people are that: “in new relationships trust can be experienced and built; and with more trust new structures that carry hope, change and a shared vision can be promoted locally and internationally.” The wider landscape within which we need to locate our training, organisational visions and the need to equip our young people to live constructively and hopefully within includes:• Addressing the growing gap between rich and poor within states; • The challenges of global sustainability and climate change that impact on us all • The emerging challenges of excluding ethnocentric political positions and the growth of religious fundamentalism• The huge population movements of those seeking new lives, asylum and sanctuary and whether they will be embraced as interdependent citizens or excluded.• The needs of vulnerable children and young people in this society.• The local, North-South and British-Irish reconciliation axes• The political responses often associated with societies moving on, post conflict, is that the narrative of victims is pushed aside in favour of the new political narrative. There also can be a political and civil society preference to ignore, rather than engage with, the need to explicitly acknowledge and promote a ‘never, never again’ position. We need a wider vision for all to be central to our practice; we need to support a youthwork culture and a wider citizenship agenda, in both formal and informal education, that supports young people grow and develop their abilities; and that encourages them to face into a wider world that needs their hope, energy and vision.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
    PublisherUlster University
    Number of pages18
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2015
    EventA Celebration of Youth and Community Work Training in Northern IrelandForty Years of - University of Ulster
    Duration: 9 Sep 2015 → …


    ConferenceA Celebration of Youth and Community Work Training in Northern IrelandForty Years of
    Period9/09/15 → …

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    • citizenship
    • equity
    • diversity and interdependence
    • values
    • respect
    • humility
    • non-violence
    • human agency
    • relationships.


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