Youth Work Bulletin - Summer 2019

Summer 2019


A word from the Chair of the Interim Youth Work Board - Keith’s Voice

Keith Towler, Chair of Inteirm Youth Work Board


Suddenly it would seem that many mainstream media outlets across the UK are talking about youth work and the impact austerity and cuts to local services have made on youth work provision. Even the BBC’s flagship Newsnight programme was talking about the positive impact youth work makes to young people’s lives. Sadly, the context for this flurry of discussion is the increase in knife crime amongst young people in some parts of the UK. Whilst all reports of this nature speak of personal and family tragedy and loss, they force us to ask wider questions about society, community and the support we provide to young people as they negotiate their way through the demands of daily life. Support that has, in many instances, been scaled back or closed down.

With these cuts to services, one might expect to find a sector in crisis. But my own experiences at this year’s Youth Work Conference, alongside my daily discussions with youth workers, paint a different picture. It is true that, in some areas, capacity has reduced over time. But what I have seen is a vibrant and passionate youth work sector, working hard to hold on to the provision we have in place, and with a strong desire to improve opportunities for all young people in Wales. It has been a real pleasure and a privilege to meet with them and the young people they work with, and each have played an important role in shaping my, and the Board’s, thinking on what needs to be done. Their voices have played a vital role in the development of our new strategic approach, and they will be directly involved in ensuring its delivery.

But let me be clear about the scale of our ambition here. As Chair of the Board I don’t just want to improve youth work in Wales, I want to see it get the recognition it deserves: as a service in its own right, for its contribution to our aims and ambitions as a nation, and for its value to the young people it supports. And this value is evident from the voices of young people who took part in the first ‘Let’s Talk Youth Work’ discussion. They value youth work for the information it gives, for the safe spaces it creates, for the opportunities it provides, for the support it ensures, and for the relationships it builds with trusted adults and with peers.

There is no doubt in my mind that youth work changes young people’s lives for the better. So, while it can respond to a rise in knife crime, to youth homelessness, and mental health and well-being concerns, it does this as a set of services and support underpinned by youth work’s values, principles and purposes. This approach brings value to young people and to society as a whole and, while this value is not always easily captured using a set of discrete indicators – how could it ever when it is a responsive service informed by young people themselves, each of whom are individuals and at different stages of their life journeys - when youth work is not there we see the consequences.

We must restate our commitment to young people and to youth work in Wales and the new Youth Work Strategy, when launched in June, will do just that! It is pleasing that Welsh Government have also restated their commitment to youth work and youth services this year by providing unprecedented levels of funding – over £10m in 2019/20. We must build on this investment and I am grateful to you all for positively engaging and working with us to establish a shared vision and agreed way forward.

Task and Finish Groups - Call for Expressions of Interest

As part of our new strategic approach to youth work in Wales, we are committed to the concept of ‘Systems Leadership’ - a young people and workforce empowerment model. Through this model, young people, youth workers, and the wider sector will play an active role in developing and implementing our new strategic direction.

The Interim Youth Work Board is looking for motivated and committed individuals to act as systems leaders by joining a series of Task and Finish sub-groups. These groups will be aligned to the key workstreams that will sit under the new Youth Work Strategy and will have a key role to play in generating change at pace, as well as developing evidence for continual improvement.

Expressions of interest from all parts of the youth work sector are welcomed but to get involved you’ll need to be motivated to drive change and able to commit to taking part in activities that may extend beyond your day-to-day work.

Calls for systems leaders will be made periodically as work delivering the new strategy gets underway. However, we are making an initial invitation to take part in the following workstreams:

  • Welsh language services and provision;
  • Digital Youth Work: Transformation, Information & Communication
  • Youth engagement.

Please let us know if you have a specific interest, or can demonstrate a level of expertise, in one or more of these areas by emailing In doing so, please confirm your agreement that we can hold your contact details, share them with the Board, and contact you for the purposes of developing youth work in Wales.

Youth Work Week: 23 - 30th June 2019

Youth Work Week is an annual event that provides youth workers and young people with the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of youth work, as well as promote a wider understanding and support for youth work.

A Youth Work Week showcase event, sponsored by Llyr Gruffydd, AM will take place on Tuesday, 25th June, 10:30-1:30pm at the Senedd.

The Minister for Education will formally launch the new Youth Work Strategy at the showcase.

A variety of youth work organisations from across Wales will be showcasing their work which will evidence the breadth of youth work and the wide range of excellent projects that are delivered across Wales.

Please share your plans for Youth Work Week (as well as activities throughout the year) using the hashtags #YouthWorkWales and #GwaithIeuenctidCymru

For more information, please contact

Youth Work Excellence Awards 2019 - Finalists have been chosen!

Youth Work Excellence Award logo 2019

We received over 90 nominations for the 2019 youth work excellence awards and were delighted with their quality, particularly as 2019 marks 25 years of the Youth Work Excellence Awards being held!

Judging took place over two days in February at the Holiday Inn in Cardiff. All judges commented on the strong field of nominees for all categories which made choosing the finalists a very difficult task. The Making a Difference category was judged by young people again this year, with lively discussions and viewpoints expressed throughout the judging.

The 2019 Awards ceremony will take place on Friday 28 June, at the Quay Hotel, Deganwy. We look forward to sharing with you details of the winners in our next bulletin, in the mean time keep an eye out for the #youthworkwales on twitter as we release details of all the finalists in the run up to the Awards.

Quality Mark Update

The Quality Mark for Youth Work in Wales currently has two elements. A set of Quality Standards organisations can use to self-assess the quality and impact of their work, and an externally assessed Quality Mark. The contract to run the Quality Mark was held by Atkin Associates between June 2016 and March 2019. During this time, eighteen organisations achieved the Bronze level, nine achieved the Silver level, and four went on to achieve the Gold level.

We remain fully committed to the Quality Mark and will be retendering the contract this Summer. The successful contractor will be tasked with management of the current format of the Quality Mark and development work aimed at strengthen it.

Finally, congratulations to the following organisations who received their Quality Mark Awards at the Youth Work Conference in February

  • Youth Cymru – Bronze level
  • Cardiff Youth Service – Bronze level
  • Neath Port Talbot Youth Service – Bronze level
  • Torfaen Youth Service - Silver level

We look forward to awarding the next batch of Quality Mark Awards at the Youth Work Excellence Awards in June.

Youth Work in Schools winner announced

Youth Work in Schools Award winner, Amy Bolderson

The Professional Teaching Awards Cymru took place at Soughton Hall in Mold on 19 May. This year saw the introduction of a new award to recognise the important role of youth work in schools and the importance of partnerships and a continuum between formal and non-formal learning. The award acknowledges those who have provided outstanding youth work in a school setting, and had an exceptional impact on the lives of young people in a school or schools.

The winner of the Youth Work in Schools Award was Amy Bolderson, - Pontypridd High School, Pontypridd who is described by staff and learners alike as ‘always being there for you’ and the ‘go to person’. Judges were impressed with Amy’s commitment and dedication to her role, which they saw as phenomenal, and her huge impact on the wellbeing and outcomes for a significant number of individuals and groups of learners across the school.

Congratulations Amy!

The standard of applications were really high and so we also extend our congratulations to the other finalists:

  • David Charles, Caldicot School, Monmouthshire
  • Blaenau Gwent Youth Service Youth Workers, Ebbw Vale

You are all a credit to Youth work.

Report from the 2019 Youth Work Conference

This year’s conference was held in Venue Cymru in Llandudno on 20 February. It was attended by 180 delegates with good sectoral representation from all parts of Wales.

The conference provided an opportunity to meet members of the Interim Youth Work Board and to hear details about the development of the new Youth Work Strategy.

Delegates also received feedback on the ‘Let’s Talk’ survey carried out between November 2018 and 14 January 2019 which captured the views of 633 young people in youth work settings across Wales. Delegates welcomed the voice of young people in informing the development of a strategic approach and stressed the importance of ongoing engagement with young people, particularly those who do not currently access youth work services.

Welsh Government worked with stakeholders through the Youth Work Marketing Group to develop the day’s workshops to ensure they were relevant to practitioners at the coalface. Copies of all presentations are available on request from

63 evaluations received were received. These confirmed that the conference was a great opportunity for the sector to network. The content was considered appropriate but many delegates felt they would have liked more time for informal networking. We will take this into account when planning the 2020 conference.

Youth Cymru’s Money Smart toolkit roll out

Delegates at Money Smart toolkit roll out event

On March 12th, Youth Cymru held a Money Smart Train the Trainer event for Youth and Community workers at the Angel Hotel in Cardiff. The event consisted of speeches, discussions, carousel training sessions, and a world cafe where youth workers, teachers and practitioners could share perspectives on the importance of delivering financial capability to young people in Wales.

This was just one of the many financial capability events Youth Cymru has held to aid practitioners with delivery of their Money Smart toolkit on a wide scale. Along with this they have also done face to face delivery with over 1000 young people the past year. From evaluation sessions and consultation at their training events, network opportunities around Wales, and the Youth Work Conference in Llandudno, they have found that practitioners agree on the importance of teaching financial capability to young people of all ages. This can be integrated into other sessions taught or explicitly delivered as solo sessions.

To download Youth Cymru’s Money Smart toolkit, follow this link:

European Solidarity Corps: how to apply for the Quality Label

Quality Label

Interested in running European Solidarity Corps projects in Wales? The Quality Label is a prerequisite to organisations wishing to apply for European Solidarity Corps funding, whether for Volunteering or Traineeships and Jobs projects. Check the UK National Agency webpage for guidance. It includes a tutorial, which offers a short overview of the Quality Label, steps before you apply and hints and tips. Applications take about eight weeks to be processed.

The European Solidarity Corps is the European Union initiative which funds opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe. UK organisations of all sizes, from multinational companies to small NGOs working in local communities, which support social action and promote social inclusion, can submit an application. In the UK, the European Solidarity Corps is implemented by the Erasmus+ National Agency, a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK. Subscribe to their newsletter to get news and application tips.

Public Health survey on ACEs

Public Health Wales wish to gain insight into the views and understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) amongst staff in public sector roles within Wales. To do this, they have commissioned Strategic Research and Insight (SRI), an independent research company based in Cardiff, to carry out an online survey. This will gather the views of public sector workers across Wales.

The survey is important because it will help understand, for the first time, the levels of relevant expertise, knowledge and skills available in public service to tackle the outcomes of ACEs in the adult and child population in Wales.

The survey can be completed in English or Welsh by clicking here:

If you have any queries, or would like any information to help promote the survey, please contact Angus Campbell of SRI at  

New research on young people in a digital world – please contribute by 1 July

The team of the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership is coordinating a research study on social inclusion of young people and digitalisation. ERYICA is a member of the Steering Group.

Please contribute to this research by completing a short survey via this link: Response are required by 1 July 2019.

Background information about the research project is available here.

Please direct any questions to Davide Capecchi and/or Lana Pasic -

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