About Us

A proud heritage

The Youth Association’s history stretches right back to the early years of youth work and our long story of survival is made up of thousands of successes, failures, experiments and innovations, told by generations of young people and youth workers. In all that time, the important things we believe about good youth work have never changed; we call that being ‘progressive but rooted’.

We are lucky that we have been able to keep copies of all our past annual reports and minutes going right back to our founding in 1904. They make interesting reading for anyone interested in the history of youth work and society’s changing attitudes to work with young people. Some attitudes and ideas have long since changed, but It’s surprising how many discussions and debates are still current today.

Standing by our principles

Our mission is to champion good youth work; by delivering it, experimenting with it, promoting it and supporting others who share our beliefs about it.

We think that good youth work is a way of understanding young people and the world they live in and approaching things from their point of view. We also think that good youth work is built on a wide set of skills and tools; we see these as the ‘craft’ of being a good youth worker.

We believe that the combined approach and craft of good youth work is something to be defended, supported and developed. A positive future for good youth work is something to campaign for.

Good youth work creates positive changes in the lives of all young people.  It is a constructive process that aims to give young people chances to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.  It can be of benefit to all and should not be confined solely to tackling disadvantage; although it will always recognise the disadvantaged starting points society imposes on some young people.

Good youth work will speak up for young people and always remind adult society that they are most often the victims of society’s problems and not the cause of them.

Good youth work challenges discrimination and promotes inclusion because it values and celebrates the uniqueness of individuals, championing both cohesion and difference.

Good youth work is always relevant because it is centred on the needs of young people and encourages them to express those needs.  Young people set the agenda for good youth workers.

Good youth work must be voluntary and its power to grow mutual respect between young people and adults comes from the right to walk away from the youth work process.  It must be a positive choice.

Good youth work enables young people to understand and own their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and how to form and maintain good relationships that are built on self-respect and respect for the rights and responsibilities of others.

Good youth work is primarily a group process of social education, enjoyed in the most informal and accessible ways.  It can help support families and young people’s growth and transition to independent adulthood.

Good youth work is a powerful force for positive social change and good youth workers, alongside the young people they support, are its best and most credible advocates.

You can download our most requested policy documents below.

The Youth Association – Annual Report
PDF version of our latest Annual Report. (872kb)

The Youth Association – A concise History
A pdf of our history, from 1904 to the present day. (331kb)

Youth Work Worth Championing – Our Principles
A pdf laying out clearly, in plain english, the principles that drive everything we do. (313kb)

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