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Effective services for young people should be based on young people's own perceptions of their needs and interests. Discuss.

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Introduction

Effective services for young people should be based on young people's own perceptions of their needs and interests. Discuss. Susanna Pope Contemporary Issues Module ED5153 29 / 06 / 07 Student number 0326625 Effective services for young people should be based on young people's own perceptions of their needs and interests. Discuss. Young people's services are most effective when the needs and interests it seeks to serve are those perceived as relevant by the young people who will be using the service. It is an essential part of youth work to remember that not all young people have the same interests and aspirations. Young people differ by age, by neighbourhood, by academic or vocational aspirations. There are young people in employment, young people in education and training; finally there are young people not in education, employment and training (NEET). Not all young people are the same; however they share the common experience that they are at the margins of decision-making. Young people should be able to get their voices heard by those in charge of youth services without having to struggle. If young people's needs are at the core of a service, it should make a positive difference in their lives. It is my opinion that the effectiveness of any youth service largely depends on the level of involvement the young people have during the entire process. I believe it is important for young people's services to have input from both adult and young people and during this essay will explain in more detail the importance of intergenerational involvement and the refreshed insight this can give all involved, which is then passed on to those both using and working in the youth service. Youth projects may have varying degrees of youth involvement. Jones and Perkins' (2005) continuum of youth-adult relationship model has five levels which demonstrate how different working styles can affect young people. ...read more.

Middle

This benefits not only the young people and the adults who help in the process but also improves the service quality, making it more young people friendly, thereby having a greater impact on those using the service. Allport's (1956) Intergroup Contact theory argues that bringing members of different groups together in an interactive setting (in this case, young people and adults, coming together to provide an effective youth service) has positive effects on the attitudes of 'in-group' members (those possessing power, privilege and status) towards 'out-group' members (those not in the 'in-group circle, less connected, less visible and ultimately 'less desirable') therefore leading to less prejudice. The initial perceptions that young people and adults have of each other are often false, with adults often unaware of, and uninterested in, the positive trends in youth development (Glassner, 1999). Adultist stereotypical views constrain young people's potential by hindering their ability to put forward their ideas to adults. This can be due to insufficient opportunities provided for them to get their views heard and also lack of confidence and fear of being mocked. It is imperative that youth workers get past this and provide adequate opportunities for consultation with young people, in a safe and comfortable environment. Allport uses the Intergroup Contact Theory to provide four key conditions to a successful intergroup relationship : 1. Equal status amongst all involved 2. Common goals 3. Intergroup cooperation, demonstrating individuals skills and qualities 4. A sense of shared values and support of authority, laws or customs Young people are more likely to be interested in a youth service if they feel a sense of ownership of the project. They should be able to see that their time and commitment makes a difference and is acknowledged by others. Accreditations such as Youth Achievement Awards give an official recognition to Young People's positive contributions. Youth workers need to be aware of the legal framework relating to all issues arising in work with young people. ...read more.

Conclusion

There should always be room for improvement and adaptations as the needs and interests of young people change. It is important to identify local young people's needs and develop programmes and facilities based on reliable knowledge of what young people most want and need. Varied programmes, previously agreed by young people and workers should be provided presenting choice and opportunity to all service users. The importance of involving young people at all levels of a youth service cannot be understated. Youth work facilities must insist on ascertaining the needs and interests of the young people who will be involved in a project. Then, hopefully together with the young people themselves, the project can be improved or adapted to meet the needs of today's youth. The whole involvement process should be a positive and enlightening experience for all involved as they take advantage of the opportunity to really get to know people who seem so very different from them. They start to acknowledge and appreciate other people's thought processes and learn from one another's experiences. From those differences come similarities - I believe Mendler was correct in his thinking; no matter how different our life experiences, there are similarities in our individual needs. We all want to succeed, to feel cared for, to have positive stimulation in our lives and to have our views listened to and acted upon and to. Involving young people in the construction, implementation, maintenance and improvements of services which are for them, brings out the generosity and thoughtful side of both young people and adult's natures using methods individual to them. By rejecting the preconceived stereotypes present in today's society, young people and adults can work together to produce more efficient services for young people, present an future, provided this approach is continued. Workers and young people can share their skills and experiences, learning from each other constantly. Successful intergenerational partnerships forged through youth orientated services can create much more productive attitudes as negative perceptions are brought to light, dismissed, and peoples attitudes about other generations change. Prejudices can be reduced and deep bonds created. ...read more.

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