Youth Work Bulletin: Now available!

September 2021



A word from our Board Chair

Keith Towler

Keith’s Voice

Welcome to the Autumn 2021 issue of the Youth Work Bulletin. We have all been through quite a time of it, and we have seen youth work services in Wales working in new ways to support young people as a result. The creativity and compassion that has been demonstrated by the sector as it responds to young people during the pandemic has been quite breathtaking. How timely then, for this newsletter to reflect on our collective experience and to share practice developments.

Our final report – Time to Deliver for Young People in Wales – was published on 16 September. It sets out our recommendations on the development of a sustainable delivery model for youth work in Wales. From day one the Board sought to work in a collaborative way with young people and the youth work sector. We remain grateful to everyone who contributed and helped to shape the work. I’m delighted that Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, has indicated that he will publish a response in December, once he has reflected on our proposals. In terms of next steps, some of you may be aware that the Board had initially stated that we would remain in place until December. However, following conversations with Welsh Government the majority of the Board will now remain until the next step forward with a new Board or Body is taken.

I would love to say with certainty what will happen next but of course those decisions rest with the Minister. I am hopeful though that we will see a stronger legislative basis for youth work services, with a national body for youth work, and will establish national governance arrangements for youth work services in Wales that directly involve young people, with transparent funding arrangements and clear accountability. What happens next has to be all about protecting, developing and enhancing our youth work offer for all 11 to 25-year olds in Wales today, and for future generations.

What is certain, however, is that we have plenty to look forward to. The Youth Work Excellence Awards once again received a healthy number of nominations and judging is underway, ready for our virtual awards ceremony in December.

We also have the Youth Work Conference coming up on 14th October, which will include the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, opening a day focused on sharing experience, ideas and best practice from across the youth work sector and beyond.

The articles in this newsletter once again demonstrate the value of youth work to our young people. 

Every village, every town, every city in Wales should have a youth work service. We are not there yet but we have to strive towards a future where all young people in Wales can access that kind of support. The kind of support that listens, offers trusted advice, provides learning opportunities and experiences that will excite and inspire – all in an environment where young people can have fun and feel safe and respected.

It really is Time to Deliver for Young People in Wales.

Young People’s Voices

At the beginning of the year the Interim Youth Work Board created a Young Person’s Committee to provide valuable input to its work. The committee has provided an interesting glimpse into their involvement so far...

The Young Person’s Committee is the voice of young people in Wales. It comprises 22 members and is a really diverse group, representing all aspects of Welsh society. The goal of the Young Person’s Committee is to ‘work to, and feed back to, the Interim Youth Work Board to specifically consider what a young person’s rights led approach to a new youth work model would look like going forward’.

Since February we have been working through the lockdown, to help put in motion ways to achieve this goal. We have met eight times, with all meetings on ZOOM and with Eyst, Llamau and Urdd Gobaith Cymru administering, supporting, and providing ZOOM advice!

At first it seemed daunting looking at the recommendations in the Interim Youth Work Board’s report, however, we were asked to concentrate on the following:

  • What would a young people led governance structure for youth work in Wales look like?
  • The principles of a youth information service for Wales as part of a digital youth work offer
  • Views on the roll out of a Wales Youth Entitlement card
  • The recommendation for the youth work sector to work together to promote equality, inclusion, and diversity

Our meetings via ZOOM were challenging, but focused, and concentrated on discussing recommendations and preparing and presenting our response. Members of the Interim Youth Work Board joined the meetings to give further information and explain the detail behind the recommendations in the report.

As for future plans, we are keen to ensure that more of us young people are aware of the major changes being recommended for youth work in Wales. The Young Person’s Committee will be arranging an event in October and inviting other young people from the various youth forums/councils and boards to get involved.

So, what have we gained from the experience this year?

This experience has given young people a voice in the work directly concerning them. Youth work is more than just a tick box exercise, it is a vital service for young people in Wales and provides a link and a bond to people and communities. Being able to advocate for oneself and be listened to and heard with respect is a shift from the interaction many of us have had with authority and older adults in the past.

Wales is quickly developing into a country where the voice and opinions of young people is pivotal to its growth and it is empowering to be a young person involved in this process.

Special Focus – Reflection and Learning

Reflections from the Water - Using Blue Space in Youth Work

In this issue we reflect on the experiences and challenges of the last 18 months, highlighting how we are implementing the learning that has resulted from the pandemic.  

Challenge Wales logo

When you take into account the seasonal activity of Challenge Wales’ innovative youth work and outdoor learning at sea programme, it was a great feeling to be back on the water for the first voyage in June, after a 20-month hiatus.

Every winter during a planned maintenance programme, Challenge Wales reflects on its activities, adapting to improve and develop new ideas for the future. Except the re-starting of activities in the spring didn’t happen last year. Sail training onboard 72-foot Challenge Wales and 60-foot Adventure Wales teaches people about how to deal with challenging and new situations, strengthens resilience, improves communication, enhances decision making and planning abilities while working under pressure, and sometimes against the unexpected. Going to sea teaches many things that Challenge Wales brought back into the organisation during the pandemic.

At the beginning of 2021, Challenge Wales undertook a consultation with young people and youth workers/group leaders to understand how life had changed ‘post-Covid’ and how this was going to influence Challenge Wales’ sail training programme. Results showed that young people wanted to meet their friends again, take part in activities that build confidence and improve their mental health.

The Challenge Wales sail training programme is naturally aligned to respond to these needs and, in particular, is evidenced to improve young people’s mental health. Therefore, relaunching a sail training programme in the summer of 2021 with an increased awareness of young people’s needs was high on the agenda. An updated shore-based ‘Sea and Tell’ programme was also launched enabling younger young people to experience onboard learning and the water in a safe, fun way regardless of their abilities.

The importance of blue space can’t be underestimated. Exercise and physical activity on board Challenge Wales’ vessels helps stimulate chemicals such as endorphins which can help positively change someone's mood - and it’s not just great for the young people but also for our volunteers too.

Challenge Wales

Like many organisations, Challenge Wales has successfully adapted to continue its youth work activities. Challenge Wales can’t change the direction of the wind - but as we have shown this year, it’s all about adjusting the sails and having the right people with you on the journey to overcome challenges and make the most of opportunities.

To find out more about Challenge Wales visit, email: or find them on social media @challengewales.

Within Wales: My Youth Work

Rachel Davies is a Youth and Community Worker at Neath Port Talbot Youth Service. Reflecting on the response of Neath Port Talbot Youth service to the issues arising from the pandemic, Rachel identifies some of the challenges, but also opportunities, that have arisen over the last year. She highlights that from a difficult situation there can be positive outcomes and change for the better. 

Youth work and Covid recovery at Neath Port Talbot Youth Service - Our story

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there were many English medium Youth Clubs that were well-attended in our area, however, like elsewhere they were all forced to close in March 2020. Evidently the increasing social isolation of young people, especially in rural areas was a challenge. With options limited, a consultation was carried out to identify what was important to young people, and the results showed, as we might expect, that young people felt they were missing out on opportunities to socialise and build new friendships. They also showed, however, that young people coming from English speaking households were concerned about not having opportunities to use and maintain their Welsh language skills.

Responding to this was one of our priorities. We set out plans for a virtual Welsh medium youth club, the first in Neath Port Talbot, and gained support of the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme, which is financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Making a difference

The club provides a safe space for young people to build confidence, gain new skills, socialise and improve their mental health and well-being. Organised activities enable young people to learn and celebrate Welsh culture and heritage whilst also gaining new skills and qualifications. It also promotes and encourages the use of the Welsh language, encouraging young people to continue using the language in a fun and engaging way.

Those who sign up are sent a secure link to join the virtual session. Arts and craft packs, activity materials and equipment are delivered to each young person prior to sessions to ensure everyone has everything they need to participate. It is hoped that in future some in-person sessions will also be possible, including an opportunity to attend a residential delivered by Neath Port Talbot Youth Service staff at the Urdd Centre in Llangrannog. However, throughout the pandemic the virtual nature of sessions has ensured accessibility and consistency for the young people.

The club has really helped make a difference in the wake of the pandemic, by helping to reduce social isolation of young people wanting to engage using their preferred language and helping young people to make new friends from among the other rural wards of Neath Port Talbot. Additionally, sessions focussed specifically on preparing for a return to school will also help to tackle and alleviate any anxiety as we begin the new academic year, with this ‘virtual model’ suitable to be adapted and applied to address a range of different issues in the future.

Where to find out more

Clwb Ieuenctid Symudol runs every Tuesday at 6.30pm. For more information and to register your interest, please email the youth service at .

Reflections – Channelling Lockdown-inspired Creativity

5-9 club

Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Youth Engagement and Participation Service (YEPS) supports young people aged 11 to 25 to improve their resilience to deal with current and future challenges, supporting their well-being and their positive engagement in and contribution to the communities in which they live.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the YEPS team noticed just how creative young people were, with some using their new-found hobbies, passions and skills to support their families and communities, and to raise money for charity and to support themselves. Few young people, however, had envisaged this passion being turned into a viable business. This is where YEPS was able to help through an exciting opportunity to provide the first youth-led entrepreneurship programme, in partnership with Welsh ICE called the ‘5 - 9 Club’. This meant YEPS could help people learn how to turn those new skills, passions and ideas into a business.


A programme was developed to provide young people with the tools to market their idea, show them how to source funding and learn from other entrepreneurs to develop their own business. Now underway, the programme engages a fantastic group of young people each week. It is offered through a blended learning approach, which means it is possible to cater for participants who would prefer in-person learning, as well as accommodating those who choose to attend sessions online. There is a community of support throughout the programme and beyond, with a WhatsApp group, Facebook group and the support from Welsh ICE.

The objective of this programme was to give young people (16-25 years) the skills and confidence to be able to pursue their dreams and launch a new business. The YEPS team is optimistic that once they have completed the programme our young people will have the best possible chance of making their start-ups a success – we look forward to seeing them on Dragon’s Den!

Find out more about YEPS here.

Around the World – International Learning Exchange

Earlier this year the Welsh Government announced the International Learning Exchange (ILE). Cardiff University will be developing this“over the next 12 months, working with an advisory board of stakeholders”.

Helen Jones of CWVYS and Steve Davis, Manager of Pembrokeshire Youth Service, represent the youth sector on the advisory board, which met for the first time in September.

People across the sector are welcome to send suggestions about the ILE programme to Helen ( or Steve ( They will also be meeting regularly with the sector. Funded activities are expected in 2022/3.

Quality Mark Update

Three more youth work organisations gain Quality Mark Bronze Award

Youth Work organisations across Wales continue to celebrate excellent practice and provision through the Quality Mark. Recently, the Education Workforce Council (EWC) has had the pleasure of recommending three new organisations to be awarded the Bronze level Quality Mark. We are really pleased that the Welsh Government therefore has been able to Award the Bronze level award to Rhondda Cynon Taff Youth Engagement and Progression Service, Powys County Council Youth Service and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. We wish them the best of luck with their next steps.

To hear how organisations benefit from being involved in the Quality Mark, watch this short video.

Quality mark

Want to learn more? Access our short e-learning module.


Is your organisation ready for a Quality Mark assessment? Let us know by submitting an expression of interest form.

Have you heard?

Join us at the Youth Work National Conference!

This year the Youth Work Conference is being held online on the 14th October. It will include the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, opening a day focused on sharing experience, ideas and best practice from across the youth work sector and beyond. Find out more and book your place here.

The Youth Work Leadership and Management Programme

The first bespoke leadership and management programme for the youth work sector in Wales in 15 years begins in October. The programme is aimed at existing leaders and managers in the maintained and voluntary sectors who want to enhance their skills. Find out more here.

Champions of Wales

The Champions of Wales project aims to make Wales a safer and more inclusive place for girls, through the delivery of workshops that support young people to explore perceptions of girls’ rights, experiences of gender inequality, and develop skills to campaign for change. To find out more please contact

Champions of Wales

Exciting opportunity to support mental health research

The Wolfson Centre for Young People’s Mental Health is looking for young people to join its new Youth Advisory Group to help shape mental health research and policy. If you are between the ages of 14-25 with lived mental health experience, the Wolfson Centre would love to hear from you. Find out more here.

wolfson centre

Development and employability programmes

The Prince's Trust Cymru has lots of great courses coming up, including employability programmes and an Explore programme to boost confidence and team building skills. Find out more here.

prince's trust
talk money

Talk Money…

Are you involved in supporting young people with money issues? Money Guiders Wales could help you to help them.

Find out more here:-,



Wellbeing Survey Report Youth Work Sector

In February 2021 National Academy for Educational Leadership Wales undertook a national well-being survey of leaders in the youth work sector. The Well-being Survey Report: Youth Work Sector sets out the key findings - read it here.


NAEL wellbeing survey

Mapping the Youth Work workforce in Wales

Education Training Standards (ETS) Wales, with support from Welsh Government, is looking to get everyone - that's all those working and volunteering in the voluntary and maintained youth work sectors - on the map! Keep an eye on the ETS Wales website to make sure you’re included.

ETS article
Youth Endowment Fund

Can you help make children’s lives safer?

The Youth Endowment Fund Toolkit is a free summary of the best available research on preventing violence. It’s there to help you find the most relevant programmes, policies and practice. You can help develop future updates to the toolkit by filling in this quick survey – it’ll only take five minutes!


Keen to be a professionally qualified Youth Worker?

At the University of South Wales, Newport City Campus, you can study Youth and Community Work at undergraduate BA (Hons)  and postgraduate (MA) levels, which will prepare you for a fulfilling career working with young people. Find out more about these exciting courses at our next open day, book your place here.


Racial equity funding

Racial Equity funding available, apply year-round…

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales has launched its Racial Equity funding for small and local charities that are led by and that support Black, Asian, and ethnic minority communities. Charities can apply all year-round for two-year unrestricted grants of £50,000 alongside development support.  Find out more here, or apply for funding directly here.


Welsh Youth Parliament election campaign is underway

The opportunity to vote in for the Welsh Youth Parliament is available to young people between the age of 11 (by the 31 August, 2021) and up to 18 years old, with the election in November 2021. Find out more about it here.


Welsh Youth Parliament

New Youth Work COVID Guidance out now

This Action Card relates to the measures those responsible for organised activities for children, must take by law, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This covers activities attended by children and young people, including youth work and general youth groups. Please click here for details.

Meic GIF

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