Blog post

A positive future for Youth Work and young people?

Recently there has been a lot of discussion and media attention about young people in society and their experiences. There has been a keen focus especially around knife crime and gangs. Here, Simon Williams, Senior Lecturer for Youth Work and Community Development, discusses a potentially more positive future for Youth Work and young people.

By Simon Williams - 20 December 2019

Desire for change

Government parties have all seen, and recognised, that the reduction in statutory Youth Work across the country has had significant impact on the lives of young people. Not a week goes by where we do not hear about the sad news of someone being attacked, hurt and sometimes killed. Indeed, any positive news around young people presented in the media is often overshadowed by a tragedy.

Youth Work started many years ago, with many individuals wanting to create positive change for young people, especially those who were extremely venerable and exploited.

Realising the impact Youth Work has had historically, and the impact of voluntary youth services today, has resulted in major political parties seeking to reinvest in current youth work practice.

Political parties have become aware of the powerful impact of having professional and appropriate relationships between adults and young people that provide vital space for developing critical thinking and creating positive change.

Promised investment

Both the Labour party and the Liberal Democrat party had promised significant funding for Youth Services if they made it into power and the Conservatives have recently promised a significant investment to youth services across the country.

Excitingly there was a recent call from Government to examine how this money should be best used to support youth work as a developmental tool for young people. This will include the building of new youth centres and also the hiring of lots more youth workers in communities and schools.

This provides a great potential for the future of Youth and Community Work.

This also suggests that now is a great time to develop your education and training to be best placed to engage in the employment field in Youth and Community Work, whatever and wherever that may be.

Making a difference

Our current Youth Work and Community Development students have undertaken placements and obtained jobs in many different areas including Hospitals, Youth Offending Institutes, Children's Homes, Faith Based organisation, Open Access Clubs, Local Authority Provisions, Young Carers associations and various forms of educational establishments.

The University of Derby prides itself on its Youth Work and Community Development Programme, seeing 100% of graduates over the past 3 years go into graduate employment or further studies. The programme received 100% for the National Student Survey last year, reflecting the excellent teaching and support across the programme.

The Youth Work and Community Development degree is delivered in a cooperative way with students. It avoids the large lecture theatres to instead focus on active, small group work. This helps students gain significant experience and skills for future working with young people in a wide variety of different environments. We incorporate innovate assessment that reflects the reality of practice so we do not even have exams!

If you would be interested in making a difference in the lives of young people and to enable communities to develop change and positive futures, why not consider studying at Derby?

For further information contact the press office at

About the author

Simon Williams
Assistant Head of Discipline for Social and Community Studies, Programme Leader for Youth Work and Community Development

As acting Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer, Simon Williams is has responsibility for the overview of the programme as well as development of placements as well as teaching and tutorials. Simon is also active in promoting Youth Work nationally and supporting local organisations see the positives of engaging youth workers.


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