Street based youth work, explanation, guidelines & strategy

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Street-based youth work Wiltshire Youth Development Service

explanation, guidelines and strategy

Acknowledgements Wiltshire Youth Development Service would like to thank partners in the Salisbury area who have supported and part funded the delivery of the work represented in this document, especially Harnham Youth Venture and South Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership. Also a very special thanks to all the young people featured from these various projects… Harnham SBYW Project – Abbie; Chris; Corrin; Darren; Franki; Gavin; Jaques; Jordan; Kera; Lee; Luci; Luke; Nathan G; Nathan M; Ricky; Shelly; Sonnie; Stacey; Steph; Steve; Tash Romp Bus Mobile Project – Adam; Alex; Ben; Leanne; Lisa; Mathew; Tif Salisbury Bridging Project – Anne-Marie

Contents Section 1 Introduction


Section 2 Clarifying concepts – an agreed service definition of terms


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• Street-based Youth Work (SBYW) • ‘Mobile work’; • ‘Outreach work’; • ‘Detached work’

Section 3 The value of street-based youth work – its role and function


Section 4 Planning for success – how the work can be planned, phased and structured over time to ensure success



• Examples

Section 5 Guidelines for effective management and delivery


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• Management • Preparation • Targeting • Team work • Initiating contact • Developing delivery • Use of streetbags • Use of activities, trips and visits • Use of developmental group work • Work with other agencies and partner organisations • Monitoring and evaluation

Section 6 Management of risk


28 28 29 29 30 30

• Working with conflict • Confidentiality • Referral • The law • Personal & professional safety • Service level Risk Assessment for SBYW

Section 7 Service strategy – mainstreaming through locality-based teams


1. Introduction This document has been written to promote and guide the development of street-based youth work throughout the service, as part and parcel of it’s mainstream delivery to young people in the 13-19 age range. This includes projects that may be part-funded from external sources (e.g. the Community Safety and Drugs Partnership) Street-based youth work (SBYW) is the term used to describe youth work when it is carried out with young people on the streets or in other public spaces. It’s core purpose, principles and values remain the same as for youth work in any other setting (as described in the Service’s Curriculum Framework); although in practice, some aspects may require additional time and negotiation (e.g. establishing contact and boundaries) It follows, therefore, that SBYW is primarily about engaging young people in programmes of informal educational activity – designed with them to promote their personal and social development. As with youth work in any other setting, these programmes should be: • needs led • participative • developmental • empowering • inclusive • planned • reflective & evaluated.


In line with this, it is important to recognise that although this approach offers a means of engaging those groups who may be more ‘at risk’ or ‘harder-toreach’ it is never the less professionally unacceptable to simply view street-based youth work as a tactical response to concerns about crime or community safety. To do so risks:• confusing the remit of youth work with the role of enforcement; • marginalizing the work’s primary purpose (which is to educate and empower); and • colluding with the stereotype that portrays young people less worthy than adults by over associating ‘youth’ with ‘crime’. The concept of youth work is based on encouraging and facilitating young peoples voluntary involvement in developmental processes. Although this has clear preventative and diversionary value, it remains distinct from concepts of control or enforcement – which are by nature, none negotiated. In practice, this means workers who are being expected to go out and get alongside ‘at-risk’ groups whose behaviour may be problematic; should not then find themselves being held to account for this behaviour – as if implicated by association – and/or responsible for policing it – which is a necessary but different role. When street-based youth work is developed in conjunction with centrebased youth work, young people stand to benefit from a far more comprehensive and flexible service than could ever be achieved through one or other of these types of work alone. However, much relies on staff sharing a common understanding of related concepts, professional practices and strategy. In order to establish this – and to provide a source of easy ongoing reference – the document has been divided into a number of distinct sections and sub sections, as set out on the previous contents page. As such, it represents the organisations continued commitment to developing and evolving its practices, in line with: the Government’s Transforming Youth Work agenda; the five outcomes in Every Child Matters; and staff’s own aspirations to reach out to increasing numbers of young people within the localities they serve.


2. Clarifying Concepts It helps if everybody has a common understanding of related terms and concepts.

‘Street-based youth work’

An umbrella term for work with young people in public settings (includes Mobile, Out-reach and Detached)

‘Mobile work’

Using a converted bus/lorry/trailer as a focal point for contact and delivery in public settings. Typically these vehicles offer informal space designed for group discussion; access to information and selective use of activities etc. Often they are used to reach young people living in isolated rural areas, although they also have use in urban settings, (e.g. on estates where there is no provision) and/or at high profile events (e.g. festivals and fun days). They are often decorated to attract. Their purpose can be targeted at specific age ranges (e.g. ‘play bus’ or ‘youth bus’) and/or themed to focus on specific curriculum areas (e.g. Arts or drugs work)

‘Outreach work’

1. Working in the catchment of a youth centre to: • promote and negotiate its use - by new or existing groups • maintain a professional overview of the local ‘youth scene’ (to assess and prioritise need)

2. Taking the services of a specialist agency or project out to young people who would or could not come in to use it (e.g. Drugs, Arts or Health project)

‘Detached work’

A planned and committed approach to engaging young people in developmental projects and programmes – initiated, sustained and informed by ongoing contact on the streets. Among other things, this approach is characterised by its:

• flexibility to assess and target groups most in need or at risk

• capacity to develop a response independent of other provision (if necessary)

• ability to provide young people with a ‘stepping stone’ to other services

‘Centre-based work’

An umbrella term for the use and development of buildings as a resource and focus for programmes of youth work – including as a ‘base’ for street-based youth work. (youth centres; community centres, village halls etc).


3.The value of street-based youth work – its changing role and function Street-based youth work (SBYW) – in all its various forms – has been around for many decades. Throughout the 70s and 80s, youth workers that worked with young people on the streets tended to form a sub-culture within the profession, by focusing on those elements of practice they saw to be fundamentally different from working with young people in clubs and centres. Phrases such as ‘working with young people on their own turf’ and ‘no building – no power’, were commonly used to denote the difference. These were based on assumptions that young people felt more ownership over the public spaces they choose to gather in, than over spaces provided for them by adults; and that in this context, the working relationship was more equitable because workers were not viewed by young people to be in authority over the setting. Since the early nineties, preoccupation with the difference between these types of youth work has given way to ongoing experimentation with the ways they inter-relate and complement each other. Now the emphasis is on mixing and matching street-based work with centre-based work to achieve a wholly more sophisticated and inclusive style of delivery: A style of delivery that whilst firmly grounded in a set of common values, can vary in form, as and when required, to meet the changing needs of different groups within the community at any given time. For example, it is often the case that groups who would not normally choose to access their local youth centre will do so if they are first given a chance to get to know the workers on the street. Equally, a group who stops using a centre may remain a priority group within the locality, with needs that can continue to be met by youth work on the streets. Within this more flexible and dynamic approach to youth work, the street-based youth work element performs a number of valuable functions:-


1. gaining an overview of the ‘youth scene’ it enables local youth work teams to establish and maintain a professional working over-view of their local ‘youth scene’. (e.g. which young people do what? – when? where? and why?)

2. increasing profile & contact it increases the team’s profile and contact-base – both generally within the wider community; and more specifically among those young people who do not use the centre

3. assessing need it allows the team to assess, analyse and prioritise the needs of different groups. (On grounds of inclusion, it is important for teams to be aware of which groups they are and are not working with at any given time –and why)

4. targeting it provides teams with a mechanism for targeting and engaging harderto-reach groups within their area who may be more ‘in need’ and/or at-risk.

5. developing non-aligned responses it affords flexibility to develop and offer ‘non-aligned’ programmes of work - i.e. ‘detached’ programmes of activity, learning and support that are not seen to be associated with a youth centre or other institutional providers.

6. improving centre-based access and inclusion it offers new and/or excluded groups support to access the centre and develop their stake in shaping its programmes and activities alongside other existing users.

7. providing on-the-spot info, guidance & support (street bags) ‘Street-bags’ (rucksacks filled with carefully selected young-personfriendly leaflets and curriculum materials ) are used to enhance the educative content of street-level discussions; and enable the team to deliver on-the-spot information, guidance and support.


8. ‘signposting’ to other services Provided the team is well networked and has good referral arrangements in place, SBYW can encourage and enable young people to access other services they may need. It does so, not by simply pointing them in the direction (‘signposting’) but by also acting as a ‘stepping stone’ to help them bridge the often perceived gap.

9. advocacy When youth workers spend substantive periods of time with young people in community settings, they often spot needs, qualities and potential that others may not have recognised. Where this is the case – and young people are not in a position to articulate it for themselves – youth workers have a responsibility to advocate on their behalf.

10. facilitating community involvement and cohesion SBYW is well placed to promote and support young people’s active participation in important community initiatives and processes e.g:• Local democracy and decisionmaking • Community planning and regeneration • Community safety and cohesion

11. prevention & diversion it makes a recognised contribution to preventing and diverting young people from harm. Government guidance in the form of ‘Transforming Youth Work’ describes youth workers (particularly outreach and detached) as being “well placed to develop relationships with young people at risk, identify issues and intervene to prevent problems.”


4.Planning for success – how SBYW can be planned, phased and structured over time to ensure success As with all youth work, it is vital that the street-based element is thoroughly planned in line with the Services’ Curriculum Framework - both logistically (in terms of tasks and timescales) and content wise (in terms of anticipated learning outcomes for young people). Youth work that is unplanned, open ended and on-going, quickly looses its focus; its impact; and is hard to evaluate! Whether it is mobile work, outreach or detached - street-based youth work should always be: 1. conceived of as a ‘project’ 2. given a clear time frame, and 3. guided by sets of aims and objectives Because of the informal style of this delivery (often perceived as just chatting to young people on the streets’); and the danger of it becoming over reactive (i.e. just responding to issues as and when they arise); it is important to break the overall time span of the SBYW project down into predetermined phases – each with their own set of aims and objectives. This a) builds back in the necessary professional structure, and b) allows for a more pro-active educational approach. These phases can then be designed so that they • anticipate the natural cycles within the work, (e.g getting-toknow; working with; moving on etc), and • introduce groups to increasingly developmental opportunities and processes (i.e. designing-in progression). For example:

1st Phase Phase 1 of any SBYW project would nearly always be reserved for gathering information and assessing need. This is commonly referred to as reconnaissance or mapping. During this period, workers will combine intelligence gathered from other sources with that gained from initial contact with young people themselves, to inform the future targeting and direction of the work. It will usually point to which groups to prioritise and which issues to address. It is important that workers give themselves sufficient time to get to know the environment, the young people and their needs, before launching into a major response or intervention.


2nd Phase Phase 2 may focus on introducing groups met during reconnaissance, to a variety of youth work processes; so that they gain some understanding – through experience – of what youth work means and can offer. This can be viewed as a taster phase, during which the youth work team consciously sets itself the objective of ensuring that, by the end of the phase, most young people it has been working with will have experienced key elements such as: • supportive 1 to 1 work; • stimulating street-level group discussion; • access to relevant curriculum related information and guidance; and • supported access to any existing provision. Often, this phase can also include offering groups the chance to plan and take part in various one-off activity trips and visits in response to the needs and interests they expressed during reconnaissance. This not only demonstrates the team’s preparedness to offer groups something back in return for all the talk, but it will provide the team with a chance for more sustained and insightful contact – advancing both relationship-building and needs assessment.

Other Phases From this basis, future phases can then focus on differentiated work with different groups. For example, whilst some target groups may be ready for the challenge of more developmental processes (e.g. a community involvement project; some single sex group work or a self organised sporting tournament); others - who may have been ‘harder to engage’ - may only now be trusting enough to take up the offer of a trip away to an activity of their choice. It may also be that in one or more of these future phases, there is a need to return to a short period of reconnaissance; especially if more developmental work with groups has recently taken workers off the streets. This enables the workers to refresh their understanding of the youth scene and introduce themselves to new and emerging groups.


End or Review Phase Finally, the ‘review’ or ‘ending’ phase of any SBYW project should be concerned with enabling young people to evaluate their involvement and learning – whether this be after only a few months of a short term intervention project, or a few years of a longer term sustained input. It may be that following this, the project is due to be re-targeted to another area or even cease all together. Either way, young people should be aware of the time scales from the start, so that endings do not come as a surprise, and so that they have an opportunity to celebrate their participation and achievements. Naturally, the number and length of phases created within a SBYW project – together with the complexity of each phase’s guiding aims and objectives – will need to be scaled up or down according to the amount of time and resources going into the project. However, it is the rhythm of regular planning/review meetings at the start/end of each phase that does most to ensure success. For during these meetings workers take time out to reflect on the extent to which the objectives of the previous phase were met, and to hone the objectives for the phase to come. Following are some examples of what well structured projects look like on paper, and how this can be varied in time and scale to match resource.


14. • To have continued to developing relationships and dialogue

• To have sought initial advice on targeting from other agencies (Parish Council, Police, Local Community Safety Partnership etc)

• For young people to be aware of • From this to have devised and implemented opportunities available (the youth centre an initial rota of visits to 4 priority villages programme and summer scheme) (2 per night) for the first 4 weeks. • For group to have been enabled to • To have established contact with at least influence the content to meet their needs one group of young people per village (a • To have made plans with each group to minimum of 24 in total) and enabled them visit the centre during phase 3 or sooner to reflect on their needs, interests and – making it available for their sole use in circumstances. the first instance if necessary.

• To have implemented remaining group visits to the centre

• To have reviewed (confirmed and/or amended) targeting of groups with yp

• To have sought initial advice on targeting from young people (existing user group)

• To have evaluated impact and outcomes of the project with all concerned, against its over-arching aim.(including young people and local inter-agency partners)

• To have achieved at least one sustained intervention with each group around a specific curriculum issue, need or interest that has emerged to date (this may involve a trip, visit or community-based activity)

• To have encouraged and enabled integration with existing users in advance of summer programme.




Phase 3 (July) Aim: To enable new groups to a) access the centre and, and b) benefit from a more intensive group learning experience or challenge.

Phase 2 (June) Aim: To encourage sign up to the summer scheme & offer new groups an opportunity to influence its content.

Phase 1 (May) Aim: reconnaissance. To gather information about the needs and interests of young people in surrounding rural communities

benefit from the ‘Awesome August’ summer scheme and subsequent centre-based programmes.

Over-arching Project Aim To enable young people who are currently isolated in surrounding rural areas to access, influence, and

A 2 night per week rural out-reach project from a YDC in one of Wiltshire’s smaller market towns. The project is to be delivered by two of the Centre’s part-time staff who each work a third session at the centre. The project is to span three months – May, June, July – and will butt up to an intensive summer programme.

Example 1:


• To have enabled them to integrate with existing users and influenced programmes to meet their own needs

• To have made plans with each • To continue building trust and group to visit the centre during contact with others in area. phase 2.

• To have enabled them to reflect on their needs, interests and circumstances.

• To have established early working relationships with at least 3 or 4 new target groups (a minimum of 35yp in total)

• To have enabled these gps to access the centre (via taster or dedicated introductory nights)

• To have developed use of streetbags to stimulate street level discussion work around harm reduction & at-risk behaviours

• In the process, to have introduced yp to facilitated group work.

• To have become familiar with the physicality of the area

• To have maintained and develop consistent street-based contact

• To have worked with each group around a specific group activity trip or visit

• To have received advice on targeting from a) known yp b) other agencies (incl. LCSP)

• To have enabled young people and adults to recognise and resolve issues of misperception and/ or conflict

• To have encouraged young people to reflect on the nature of their relationship with other sections of the community


• To have developed a negotiated • To have established a process programme of 3-4 activities/ for inter-generational dialogue trips or visits with each group • To worked with young people in order to advance dialogue, to establish and formalise their trust and relationships voice within the community. • Wherever possible, utilise the (e.g. young people’s forum or centre as a venue for planning youth action group) sessions




* mainly but not exclusively

Phase 3 (Nov/Dec/Jan) Phase 4 (Feb/March/ April) Aim: To focus* on harder-toAim: To focus* on community engage groups – developing trust inclusion – enhancing young and selective use of the centre peoples voice and influence within community processes * mainly but not exclusively

* mainly but not exclusively

Phase 2 (Aug/Sept/Oct) Aim: To focus* on responsive groups – enabling their early access to (& participation in) centre projects & programmes

Phase 1 (May/June/July) Aim: reconnaissance. To develop an initial working over-view / active assessment of the youth scene (the relative location, needs and interests of different groups)

and benefit from, its services and programmes.

Over-arching Project Aim To enable young people who are currently not using the youth development centre to: access; influence;

A one night per week out-reach project from a YDC in one of Wiltshire’s larger market towns. The project is to be delivered by two of the Centre’s part–time staff who also work other sessions at the centre. The strategic decision to deploy staff in this way is to be reviewed on an annual basis, which means in effect, that it could continue for a number of years.

Example 2:


• For 75% of the group’s membership to experienced and benefited from:

7. participation in a one-off community related initiative or dialogue.


• To have enabled the group 4. periods of personalised 1to1work to reflect on their needs, (reflection, learning and support) interests and circumstances 5. access to young-person-friendly • To have facilitated early advice and information access to existing provision 6. an introduction to facilitated group if appropriate work (collective learning and decision-

• To have initiated accreditation

• To have worked with the group to establish a youth forum and formalised its contribution to community processes

• To have worked collaboratively with other partners to sure up continuation in Education, Employment or Training

• To have used a range of mediums to explored key curriculum related themes and issues (arts, music, drama)

• To have engaged the group in a more intensive and sustained programme of developmental group work (e.g. 6 sessions of single sex discussion work)



• To have established a trusted and knowledgeable working relationship with all members

Phase 3 (July/Aug) Aim: Developmental phase: to engage groups in more challenging projects and processes

Phase 2 (May/June/) Aim: Taster phase: To introduce groups to a variety of youth work options and experiences

• To have become familiar with the area and its issues 1. sustained street-level contact • To have established an 2. access to existing provision early working relationship 3. planning & negotiating their own with 1or2 priority groups programme of activities (including (20-30 yp) selective trips and visits)

• To have received advice on targeting from other agencies and partners (esp LCSP)

Phase 1 (April) Aim Reconnaissance. To develop an initial working over-view & assessment of the youth scene Objectives:

access, influence and benefit from the Service.

b) decisions about future work

a) evaluating the project’s impact, and

• To have involved young people in

• For this to have enabled them to consolidate an celebrate their learning and development

• To have enabled the group to plan and organise an end of project residential.

• To have completed any outstanding work from the previous phases

Phase 4 (Sept) Aim: Evaluation: to enable groups to review and evaluate their learning and development. Objectives:

Over-arching Project Aim To enable young people who are seen to be at risk from involvement in crime or community conflict – to

A two night per week pilot locality Detached Project, to be staffed by 2 full-time workers, to run initially for 6 months (April thorough to October)

Example 3:

5. Guidelines for effective management and delivery Management As with youth work in any other setting, street-based youth work needs to be effectively managed. All such projects require line-management approval. In order to approve and support projects, managers need to be confident that :• teams will be adequately staffed and resourced • staff will be adequately inducted, informed, supervised and supported • the projects themselves will be properly targeted, planned and structured • there is inter-agency awareness, support and collaboration • there is sufficient inbuilt accountability (e.g. via systematic supervision, recordings, data-collection and appraisal). • Risk assessments will be undertaken on a regular basis as part of the planning and preparation processes

Preparation • Plan and prepare projects thoroughly before going out on the streets (as above) • Ensure they have line management approval and support • Be clear what sort of street work you are doing and why. • Ensure it is properly phased & structured to be as pro-active as possible (as above) • Be sure to carry out an adequate risk assessment • Ensure that the level of resource is appropriate to the scale of the project • Ensure any expectations associated with external funding are compatible with the work’s purpose, principles and values. • Have read through and agreed any literature to be passed on to young people. • Ensure that inter-agency partners are aware of the project and support its aims. • Anticipate the need to refer young people to them and develop appropriate agreements about this.


• Meet with local police to make them aware of the project and think through any likely operational concerns or confusions. • If ‘mobile’ ensure: that vehicles are well maintained and insured; that drivers are trained and competent; that routes/pitches are safe and properly researched. • If ‘outreach’ ensure the centre is able to respond to the needs of new groups as and when identified.

Targeting • Ensure there is a rationale behind the targeting of groups e.g. - young people not currently accessing the provision - young people isolated in rural communities; - young people ‘at risk’ or ‘hard to reach’; - young people involved in crime or community conflict • Notify other agencies of your plans (e.g via the local community safety partnerships) and work in collaboration with them to target and enhance the work • Use information gained from young people themselves during reconnaissance to confirm, hone and/or amend targeting.

15. 18.

Team work • Commit to developing an agreed and contracted team-based approach • Ensure adequate non-contact time and space for planning sessions, debriefings and team meetings • Use this time effectively to - Plan and review the work - keep each other informed and updated - give and receive professional feedback on each others performance and practice • Always work in pairs – preferably male / female to provide young people with as accessible and approachable a service as possible. • Consciously develop co-working skills to the point where you can instinctively read each others signals and complement each others strengths and weaknesses • Be aware of your own and your partners personal safety – try to remain in visual contact with each other and ensure that at least one of you carries a mobile phone • Be mindful of role-modelling a friendly and respectful working relationship. • Share responsibility for ensuring that all working processes are adequately recorded and evidenced (team meetings, delivery, planning and evaluation etc)

Initiating contact • When making initial contact with young people, trust your professional empathy and communication skills. • Approach them confidently and with open body language. • address the group as a whole in the first instance, so that no one young person feels singled out or embarrassed. E.g: “Hi you guys – do you mind if we just take a minute of your time to say Hello?…” • Explain who you are; who you work for and what you are about. “We’re a team of Street-based youth workers from Wiltshire Youth Development Service…” “…that means we are here especially for young people – to get to know you; to make life better for you, and to help you deal with any issues or problems”.


“We’re not police, social workers or teachers – so don’t worry, none of you have to deal with us by law – for us its all about mutual trust and treating young people as equals”. “Have any of you come across youth workers before… maybe in a youth club or youth centre?” Etc etc. • Have small handout cards available with written information about the service and/or project.

do not stereotype young people by assuming that they will reject or abuse you

• Always carry official identification – and encourage young people to ask for it. • To start with, ask young people non personal open questions about subjects that you feel they may have a view on - as this immediately signals a level of respect for their perspective and experience. E.g: “what’s it like for young people living round here?” “are there other things to do or places to go?” “how big does this group get – is this it or are there others?” ”where do you think we should go to meet up with other groups” • If conversation opens up and the young people seem quite responsive, talk more about your role as youth workers and what over time you may be able to offer. • Explain how you will be spending an initial period comparing and contrasting the needs of different groups. • Encourage them to think about things they would like to know or do, and offer to meet with them again to discuss this more fully • Secure early approval for your role and presence by giving them a chance to reflect on it e.g. “do you think it is good for youth workers to be on the streets supporting young people like yourselves who do not go to youth clubs?” • Don’t linger – leave while the going is good. • Before leaving invite them to tell you their names; and shake hands. • If, on the other hand, the conversation does not open up; and it becomes apparent that the group are going to be ‘harder to engage’ - read the signals and disengage with a friendly but assertive closing statement e.g. “OK folk - thanks for listening. We felt it was important to at least tell you who we are and what we are doing - so you don’t get worried about us being around. If you do think we can help in any way, feel free to let us know. Here’s our card”


• Following the session, use the debriefing to recall and list the names of new young people met, and/or any initial judgements made about their needs and interests. • Refresh your memory of this information before you go out next time; and always return to meet up with groups as and when arranged.

Developing delivery • When on the streets, remind yourself of the work’s primary purpose - to create with young people, curriculum-related opportunities and experiences from which they can learn and develop • Remain focused on achieving the agreed objectives for each phase. • In the early stages of the work, it can help to follow a regular pattern of movement around a neighbourhood, so that young people get used to where you are going to be. Either way, always invite groups to agree a time and place to meet with you, so that they start sharing responsibility for the contact. • Work within agreed hours, and encourage young people understand this as one of your professional boundaries. It is inappropriate to set up expectations amongst young people that you will be available to them at all times. • Take time to establish a firm basis of street-level trust and contact with groups before taking them away on trips or moving on to work with them in other settings. (It often takes a little time and experience for young people to fully understand why you are meeting up with them on the streets and to appreciate what is meant by your term ‘working with them’. To speed up this relationship-building / awareness-raising process, talk to groups about youth work. Encourage them to reflect on the sorts of conversation you have been having with them; and whether or not the feel it helps to have adults in this role). • If it is a Mobile Project, make contact with groups on foot first. This creates a level of anticipation; and affords a little time in advance to plan with them, how the provision could and should be used when it arrives in the area. • Where realistic, seek to be in contact with more than one group at a time. This enables the team to experience working at different levels


and paces with different groups; resulting in a more diverse and inclusive overall programme of work. This can be achieved either by targeting groups in different areas, or by developing work with subgroups of a larger group from the same area. • Use the full range of communication techniques to enliven periods of street-level contact and learning. Be prepared to play the ‘silent listener’ one minute, whilst being ready the next to formalise a moment of chat about an idea or point of view into an impromptu facilitated group discussion – with all being given an equal chance to input and there being some way of noting down contributions (e.g. on a flip chart or chalked on the floor) • Build in inclusion. Work both proactively and reactively to promote young people’s understanding of equality issues; challenge all forms of discrimination; and engage groups who may otherwise not access the service • Build in progression. Work overtly with young people to translate their needs and interests into ‘sub projects’ with achievable goals and learning outcomes – that can be recorded and /or accredited. For example:- Young people interested in sport – maybe work with them towards the organisation of some form of tournament; improved local access to training/practice facilities; fundraising for related equipment; achieving sports leadership awards etc - Young people involved in community conflict – maybe work with them towards their involvement in public discussion and debate; some form of inter-generational dialogue or event; improving public awareness of young peoples needs, achievements and contributions. Identify young-person-friendly adults within the community who are keen to be part of this process. - Young people into crime and drug use – aim at achieving a range of approaches – some open group discussion about


their activities and life-style; alongside getting to know them as individuals and developing levels of trust and dialogue on a 1to1 basis. Recognise key indicators of success e.g. them accepting your presence; valuing your contact; respecting your values and boundaries; their preparedness to get involved in diversionary activites; them approaching you for advice and support.

Use of street-bags • These are identifiable rucksacks or bags that members of the team carry with them at all times when working with young people on the streets. They represent young people’s access point to ‘on-the-spot’ information and guidance. • Ideally, they will contain a wide range of carefully selected young-person-friendly information leaflets and curriculum materials that can be handed out in support of discussion work around key curriculum areas such as health, sex and relationships, drugs, crime, education, training and employment. • They can also be used to carry: flasks of hot drink that can be shared with young people; games, flipchart paper, mobile phones and first aid kits etc. • Integral to this aspect of the work is the on-going distribution of information about other partner agencies’ work and services – services that young people may well need but would otherwise not come to hear about. • For workers who live in the area where they work, the carrying of a street-bag can also be developed into a ‘boundary marker’ to signal when the person is or is not working.


Use of Activities, trips and visits • Once street-level contact and rapport has been sufficiently established, it may be helpful to work with the group towards some form of initial group trip or activity. Often they will have asked for this at an early stage. • Use the need to discuss the trip or activity as a catalyst for introducing young people to group work. Identify a suitable ‘off-street’ venue for a more formalised, facilitated and recorded planning session - in order to build up the group’s experience of this process. A trip is a trip…but the discussion, reflection and negotiation that goes into it with young people is youth work e.g.: • “what are some of the reasons for you wanting to get out of the area?” • “list some of the activities you would most like to do” • “now underline the ones you think its realistic for us to do?” • “what would be the fairest way of deciding on these” • “who do you think should and shouldn’t go on the trip, and why?” • “what sort of things could go wrong, and what rules would you want to make up to prevent these things from happening” (i.e. building a contract) • “can you think of ways going on this trip might improve your group, or any things that you might all learn?” Etc. etc. • At the end of the planning session, reflect on the experience with the group and educate them to recognise this type of discussion session as ‘group work’. • Include within the contract that the group attend a similar session after the event to talk about how it went (evaluation) • When in the early phases of working with a number of different groups, it can sometimes be useful to offer each group the same activity as part of the needs assessment processes - as this enables the team to compare and contrast how each group responds. Choose an activity that would be equally attractive to all groups, no matter how different their lifestyles e.g. a barbeque. • In later phases, consider the advantages of working with the group towards residential weekends away. This can be used to heighten the impact of the work and consolidate prior learning and achievement. It can also be used to plan and prepare for larger-scale future work, such as the setting up of a new youth forum or planning a local youth festival etc.


• Ensure all trips and visits comply with the activities, trips and visits guide lines; and • Enable young people to understand the service’s need for basic personal details and (parental) consent. (For some harder to engage groups, this can be the first step to them accepting that they are voluntary ‘members’ or ‘users’ of a service)

Use of developmental group work • As with youth work in any other setting - SBYW should eventually lead young people to participation in more advanced methods of informal learning and awareness e.g. developmental group work. • This occurs when groups sign up to participate in sustained programmes of closed group work sessions designed with young people to discuss and explore issues pertinent to their group’s life-style, values and beliefs. • As explained above, structured planning sessions for earlier trips and activities can double as an opportunity to introduce young people to the process of facilitated group discussion and dialogue. It is important to ensure these early ‘tasters’ are well structured and stimulating, so that when evaluated, young people acknowledge having enjoyed it and request more of the same. • Access to a safe, comfortable and confidential off-street room is all important to this type of work. Where using the youth centre is not an option an alternative venue should be secured. • Often, young people opt to work in single gender groups. This is to be welcomed and encouraged as it usually provides a safer environment for ‘gender-wise’ discussions around pertinent curriculum areas such as sex and relationships; family; friends; health; hopes; fears and aspirations etc. • Always agree from the out-set, the number of sessions (e.g. every wednesday evening for the next 8 weeks) • Use the first session to list up possible topics for discussion and agree a group contract. There are lots of ways of initiating this. The following is just one example: “although you’ve all been hanging around together for a long time and are good mates, it doesn’t necessarily mean you actually know each other very well, or trust each other enough to talk about how you really feel about things inside does it?” “pretend for a moment, that you could all really trust each other; and that you knew nobody was going to take the piss…what sort of things might this group then want to chat about?” (list up)


“Now, lets also pretend that you did actually want to talk about some of these things as a group, what agreements or rules would you have to come up with, to make it safe to discuss them?” (list up rules) • Ensure the first session is well structured. Keep discussion exercises short and alternate them with other fun and stimulating group activities e.g. challenges to successfully complete physical trust exercises etc. (These are particularly effective when working with young men, as they couple the familiar experiences of competition with the less familiar experience of giving and receiving support) • Each week, develop a sense of progression by reflecting, and building on, the work and learning of the previous session. Re-enforce this with an on-going display of accruing flip-charted work and photos. • Use street contact with the group between sessions to maintain and sustain interest and commitment to the group. • Throughout the programme, it can be effective to include selective trips and visits, but always with an explicit understanding of how it will benefit the group processes being worked on; and always under the same agreed group contract. • At the end of the programme, it can often be good to use a residential or some other kind of group event to acknowledge, evaluate and consolidate the group’s progress, learning and achievements. • Ideally, such intensive work should be co-facilitated; and consequently involve no fewer than 8 young people.

Work with other agencies and partner organisations • In today’s climate of multi-agency work and communication, it is important that no one service should seek to operate in isolation.


• Street-based youth work is particularly well placed to function as a ‘signpost’ and ‘stepping stone’ - enabling young people to reach other services; and other services to reach young people. • Draw in skills and expertise from other partner organisations to enhance the learning and support opportunities offer to young people through the project • Give prior thought to scenarios that may involve referral to other agencies and agree protocols for referral. • Invite others to come out with you on the streets in order to meet up with young people and hear their views - giving young people a voice. • When working with another agencies in this way, it is however important to: - seek young people’s agreement - identify shared aims and objectives - clarify roles and responsibilities - agree joint working practices (including use of common assessment tools and /or information sharing protocols) - plan and prepare young people for the processes • Where the SBYW project is recognised to be contributing to the reduction in anti-social behaviour and /or fear of crime, be honest with all parties about this about this link; and ensure that the work is represented at Local Community Safety Partnerships

Monitoring and evaluation • All street work sessions must be monitored / recorded • Recordings should include: - locations visited, with times - contacts made with young people - the nature of these contacts (what was discussed - with who, why and with what outcome) - any arrangements made - any follow up actions agreed etc • All SBYW projects must be evaluated against their aims and objectives in order that the impact of the work – on individuals, groups and the wider community – can be identified and measured. (See planning models included in the Service’s Curriculum Framework: learning for life.)


6. Management of risk Working with conflict • Be realistic when working with hard to reach or at-risk groups whose life-style may revolve around high levels of peer-pressure, aggression and/or ritualised drug use • Recognise that such groups are likely not to comply with agreements made in the first instance; and will probably be tempted to challenge any responsible ‘authority’ you may feel the need to assert – especially when first in your care on trips and visits • Ensure that the above is taken into account when risk-assessing the work • Do not regard conflict as something to be avoided at all cost; but recognise it as an ongoing part of many peoples lives - something that young people especially need the chance to learn how to deal with • Wherever possible, sense conflict mounting and prioritise time as a team to discuss and agree how best to respond. • Welcome the opportunity to demonstrate how conflict can be worked though without recourse to violence and aggression. • Recognised that if handled well at the time – and reflected upon soon after – periods of conflict can serve to advance relationships, learning and awareness. • Remain aware of your own and others health and safety - especially where conflict occurs unforeseen. Wherever possible, withdraw from situations if you feel at risk.

Confidentiality • Respect confidentiality and be open and honest with young people about it • Explain to young people that the confidentiality you offer them is within the youth work team, not with the individual worker.


• Explain the circumstances under which you are obliged to share information i.e. in relation to issues of child protection and/or concerns about serious harm • Offer them a copy of the ‘Youth Development Service quick guide to confidentiality’ • Maintain confidentiality between young people and groups • Be explicit about any information sharing agreements that are in place between agencies, and provide young people with an opportunity to understand what this means. (if is often helpful to have a form of words worked out on the hand out card)

Referral • Do not focus on Crisis work. Good street-based youth work is about skilled informal education – it is not about constantly finding yourself in the midst of everybody’s conflicts and dramas • Know your limitations – refer young people - with their consent - on other agencies when appropriate or when they require specialist help and support outside the scope of your expertise or responsibility

The law • When working on the streets, it is important that workers have a basic common-sense grasp of the law and how it may relate to the activities and life-styles of the young people they are working with. - Drugs and alcohol (ref. YDS Substance Education Policy) - Violent crime - Public order - Trespass - Obstructing the highway - Prostitution - Age of consent (ref. YDS Sex and Relationship Education Policy) - Anti-social behaviour • Similarly, workers should also be aware of how such laws could unwittingly affect them by association or misunderstanding (e.g. receiving stolen goods; appearing to be dealing drugs etc) and take sensible precautions to prevent this from happening.


Personal and professional safety • Ensure the project has an up-to-date Risk Assessment – similar to the Service Risk Assessment for SBYW (see below), but tailored to take into account the specifics for the project e.g. - the neighbourhood - the community - the young people being targeted - the experience of the youth workers. etc • Do not initiate contact with unknown or hard-to-engage groups unless working with another colleague • Always present yourself as calm, relaxed and friendly • Never communicate with anyone in a way that could be interpreted as rude, belittling, abusive or threatening • Be aware and responsive to your surroundings. (sense atmospheres, observe peoples behaviour and read their body-language) • Be aware of possessions on your person and keep them concealed. Avoid carrying large amounts of money. Don’t stand around for ages talking on your mobile • Do not (except in emergencies) lend money or give lifts. • Do not disclose your own and/or others’ personal phone number or address • Never smoke, use alcohol or drugs when working with young people. • Be ware of trespassing - do not enter private land or property without the expressed permission of the owner • Avoid raising young peoples expectations by making promises you know you cant keep • Don’t collude with young people if their actions or attitudes are clearly illegal, abusive or harmful to themselves and others • Never feel under pressure from others to intervene in an argument or fight if you sense you are at risk of being assaulted • Don’t attempt to intervene to prevent police or other inter-agency colleagues from interacting with young people. • Avoid going into young peoples houses without preparing for this with your line manager • Don’t confuse street-based youth work with your own personal social life – keep the two separate. If you live and work in the same community, be sure to explore this issue with your line manager. • Ensure that you are aware of, and work within, the framework of Wiltshire County Council’s policies



Risk Register No

Working in public settings. Approaching unknown groups

Exposure to interpersonal conflict. Inability to meet own or others expectations

Employee suffering stress related ill health

Drivers/ contributory factors Incident during organised activity, trip or visit

Injury or death of worker through attack or assault.

Injury or death of young person whilst involved in programme


Reduction in person’s well being / performance. Costs associated with absence from work; cover &/or possible employee failure re: duty or care.

Personal loss / trauma. Impact on family, friends, colleagues. Possible failure re: legal duty or care

Personal loss /trauma. Impact on family, friends, community. Possible failure re: legal duty or care

Impacts of risks materialising







Likelihood Impact rating rating

• Workers are encouraged to access employee services including occupational health; confidential support and counselling.

• Workers receive regular 1to1 supervision, support and guidance.

• Workers are involved in planning and negotiating their own work & targets

• Workers are encourage to adopt a team-based approach.

• Workers are capable of administering emergency aid and carry phones to summon emergency services. • Workers are professionally trained and qualified to relate to, & work with, young people.

• Workers operate in pairs

• Guidelines for initiating and developing contact with yp on the streets are available and being followed

• Workers are professionally trained and qualified to relate to, and work with, young people

• Health & Safety concerns are discussed with young people during planning.

• Team maintains adequate staffing ratios and level of supervision.

• policy & procedures for hazardous activities, trips & visits are available & being followed – including production of specific risk assessments.

• Guidelines for SBYW are being followed

• Workers are professionally trained and qualified to relate to, & work with, young people.

Mitigation & Control measures/service action

Service level Risk Assessment - for Street-based Youth Work


Risk Register No

Role of worker on streets attracting adverse response or publicity

Delivery not achieving expected performance standards or targets


Confusion over worker’s role among young people, adults and/or other agencies.

Drivers/ contributory factors insufficient resourcing, clarity, competence, and / or management.

Stress to worker. Decline in service reputation. Lessens confidence in street-based approach.

Y.p.’s needs remain unmet. Failure to meet REYS Targets. Unsatisfactory external inspection. Decline in service reputation.

Impacts of risks materialising



Likelihood rating

Service level Risk Assessment - for Street-based Youth Work



Impact rating


• Workers are aware of the need to communicate their role and function to young people from the earliest stages of contact, as per the SBYW strategy.

• Handout cards have been produced explaining what the project is setting out to achieve.

• Workers carry official identification

• Roles and responsibilities have been discussed and clarified in advance.

• Delivery is quality assured via internal inspection. • The work is being planned and developed in liaison with other agencies from the start.

• Workers receive regular 1 to 1 supervision

• Work is pro-actively planned, monitored and evaluated in accordance with the Curriculum Framework and Street-based Youth Work Strategy.

• Workers are professionally trained and qualified to relate to, & work with, young people.

Mitigation & Control measures/service action

7. Service Strategy Street-based youth work projects will be maistreamed through locality teams, as follows: • A minimum of 2 evenings of street-based youth work in each locality per week • ’Chunked’ into 3 monthly high impact projects • Focused on a prioritised area/patch • Co-worked by experienced full-time/lead staff from the Locality • Systematically structured, planned and evaluated • Linked to existing Youth Development Service provision and facilities • Linked to other partners and multi-agency initiatives • Each project targeted and resourced in collaboration with Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership and other agencies • Each project reviewed at the end of the 3 months period and re-targeted i.e. either retained in the area or re-directed to another area on the basis needs assessment and priority


Ref No SBW V1 10/05

For further information please contact: Youth Development Service Operational Office Estcourt Crescent DEVIZES SN10 1LR Tel:

01380 735781


01380 729634


Published by Wiltshire County Council Youth Development Service. Written & photographed by Carl Bowen.

Produced by Design & Print, Wiltshire County Council, Trowbridge BA14 8JE. Tel: 01225 713492