"This mobility gave me a huge chance to explore diverse types of youth work provided from different stakeholders. Within the two months I had the chance to be part of couple of youth work systems:

  • Youth work provided from state supported youth centres

  • Youth work focused on providing international opportunities through an NGO


Additionally, I had the chance to see the approaches of youth work in a rural environment with the 4 youth centres in Rae municipality, and in an urban environment within Tallinn."

- Matej Manevski, North Macedonia

The Five Pillars of Youth Work

‘Youth Work in Wales: Principles and Purposes’ promotes a model titled ‘The Five Pillars of Youth Work’, to provide a thorough explanation of what youth work is.



Enabling young people to gain the skills, knowledge, understanding, attitudes and values needed for their own personal development and fulfilment and as a means of contributing to society as members of groups and communities, locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.



Encouraging and enabling young people to express their understanding and knowledge and their ideas, opinions, emotions and aspirations through a broad range of creative and often challenging opportunities.



Encouraging and supporting young people to become partners in, and share responsibility for, the opportunities, learning processes and decision-making structures which affect their own and other people's lives and environments.



Enabling young people to develop knowledge, understanding and positive

attitudes and behaviour in relation to:

  • racial, social, and cultural identity and diversity;

  • heritage;

  • languages and the value of one's own and other languages;

  • citizenship;

  • respect for other people’s choices.



Equipping young people with the understanding and skills to enable them

to exercise their rights including:

  • recognising that all young people have rights and that this implies respecting the rights of others;

  • supporting young people to carry out their responsibilities as citizens and members of their communities;

  • encouraging young people to engage with the personal, social and political issues which affect their lives and the lives of others and to develop qualities of leadership.

"During my stay here in Cardiff, I have been working in two different centres. The first is Cathays community centre where I have been working on Tuesdays and Fridays working with people with learning disabilities... The second centre I have been working at is Pentrebane zone. Pentrebane acts as well as community centre of sorts. I have been going there on Mondays and Wednesdays when they have youth oriented activities. On Mondays from 5pm to 8pm for youth club and on Wednesdays from 2pm to 5pm for youth cafe. The youth work done in Pentrebane I feel is very different to anything else I have seen before"

- Ivar Olesk, Estonia

Principles and Purpose of Youth Work

Core Principles of Youth Work:

  • Youth work is based on the voluntary engagement of young people.  

  • Young people should be empowered partners in the processes and opportunities that youth organisations provide. 

  • Youth work starts at whatever point young people are in their lives, regardless of circumstance, and recognises their potential. 

  • Fundamental to youth work are the principles of equality and inclusion. 

  • Youth work recognises that young people have rights and seeks to work in a rights-based way. 

  • Youth work recognises that young people have responsibilities and requirements placed upon them. Youth work seeks to help them address those responsibilities and requirements. 

  • Youth work is essentially focused on activity which is both informal and non-formal. Informal activity seizes opportunities that are not necessarily planned. Non-formal activity provides planned opportunities which lie outside formal systems such as school-based education. Both kinds of activity might lead to accreditation or recognition. 

  • The identification of youth work as a partnership with young people outside formal or legal requirements is an important element in securing the voluntary engagement of young people. 

  • Youth work has at its core the importance of providing safe environments for young people and of supporting the safety as well as the development and well-being of young people.


Core Purpose of Youth Work:

Youth work is intended to: 

  • promote and actively encourage opportunities for all young people in order that they may fulfil their potential as empowered individuals and as members of groups and communities; 

  • support young people through significant changes in their lives and assist them to understand their responsibilities; 

  • support young people to be able to understand and exercise their rights; 

  • encourage young people to gain and develop knowledge, understanding, attitudes and values and to make constructive use of their skills, resources and time; 

  • promote opportunities and access for all young people whatever their race, gender, sexual identity, language, religion, disability, age, background or personal circumstances; 

  • challenge oppression and inequality; 

  • support and enable young people in keeping themselves safe.


Youth work also: 

  • recognises the importance of sustainable development and equips young people with the knowledge and skills to play their part in shaping the future; 

  • encourages young people as local, national and global citizens to exercise their responsibilities; 

  • encourages young people to protect their own rights and those of others.

"Different types of youth work I experienced during my placement: supporting, mentoring, formal and non-formal, conscious/subconscious, active and passive. At Cathays Community centre it was more about supporting and mentoring as people there had different learning difficulties. We planned many activities as well as let young people to explore, discover and come up with their own ideas. After some time – when having already some experience – I noticed that some of the mentoring/helping was already happening automatically, subconsciously. All the types are important parts of the big picture, necessary to give the young adults confidence and skills to live their life fully."

- Madle Timm, Estonia

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