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‘The Art of Youth Work’ by Kerry Young


'The Art of Youth Work' by Kerry Young (1999)
Russell House Publishing Ltd, 4 St George's Terrace, The Business Park,
Uplyme Road, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3LS
Price £11.95
ISBN 1-898924-49-X

This handy paperback tells the reader what youth work is and what youth workers do. It is written by Kerry Young (direct email: [email protected]) who has been involved in youth work since 1977 but took the trouble to talk with 32 youth workers all over Britain in preparation for this book. The strength of this book lies in the author's commitment to finding out youth work's current position and not relying on her previous experience alone. Youth work is changing rapidly and for the better. What is clear from this book, particularly the sections on skills and values, and philosophy and 'habit', is that youth workers have a remarkably consistent sense of purpose and common underpinning values.

The book will be useful if you don't really know what youth work is about and want a sense of where it potentially 'fits' in the rapidly developing world of social and economic regeneration created by this government. Of course it doesn't give answers to how youth workers will cope with the changes demanded by this new agenda and it also doesn't give the reader a 'how to' manual - either 'how to' do youth work or 'how to' engage youth workers.

Kerry asserts that the future of youth work rests not on its ability to successfully pursue the agenda and objectives of other agencies, but on a clear articulation of its own core purpose and intended outcomes. At times the book becomes overly theoretical and one wonders if it was adapted from a masters dissertation, but if you want depth to the argument then it comes with that territory.

The best line in the book comes at the conclusion where the author asserts the difference between youth workers and other professional dealing with young people:

'The main difference is that teachers see young people as pupils. Doctors see young people as patients. Probation officers and social workers see young people as clients. Whereas the youth service sees young people as people.'

Three Cheers for that.

Penny Sharland
Consultant with the Framework network


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