Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Youth Work 4 Health

This week I went to the Youth Work 4 Health conference held by the National Youth Agency in Brighton. It was an interesting day with a lot of discussion about how you can use the Youth Work 4 Health (YW4H) good practice guidelines within different youth settings. Youth Work 4 Health

Good youth work has always sought to improve the physical and emotional health of young people and many projects are working, directly or indirectly, on health issues. The aim of these Guidelines is to provide a tool to enable individual workers, youth service managers in the public and voluntary sectors, commissioning bodies and partners to assess the quality and effectiveness of this work.”
Stemming from the Healthy Schools agenda there has been the realisation that it is hard to apply the Healthy Schools standards to the wide variety of settings found in youth work and that consequently a new set of guidelines are needed. The people attending were from a wide range of backgrounds (Yout Offending Services, Drug and Alcohol Reduction Teams, Voluntary Sector, Housing Associations etc. ) which led to some interesting discussions about how youth services in all their guises often reach young people who are seen as ‘hard to reach’ by other agencies and that because of this how we worked with young people around health was important.

I was particularly interested to see how the guidelines could support our move as a local authority towards an Integrated Youth Support and Development Service bringing the different interpretations of health and the ways in which we work with young people concerning health issues together. As all aspects of Connexions start to fall under our management or commissioning of services I felt that the guidelines provide a useful overarching method of developing our work and bring together some very different areas and methods of working using a common framework. 

4 health areas

4 Strands for Youth Work 4 Health

The Guidelines encompass 4 strands – Healthy Lives, Healthy Relationships and Sex, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing and Substance use.



They provide for 3 levels of delivery:-

Core – The core level outlines the basic knowledge, skills and structures that all services working with young people should have. It may be that health issues come up sometimes in the work of the unit – either because of peripheral links from another activity or as an occasional discrete activity – eg a generic youth club that sometimes runs activities that may lead to discussion about healthier lifestyles, or workers who receive informal one-to-one questions from young people.

Regular – A unit at regular level will meet the core level indicator and will deliberately raise aspects of a health issue as part of its mainstream work with young people – eg an outdoor education activity where diet, nutritional needs and healthy lifestyle overall are a part of the scheduled programme; or a project that runs some sexual health activities as a part of its annual programme.  

Advanced – At advanced level, a unit will build on the core and regular indicators and will have the area of health as a major and advertised part of the unit’s youth work activities – eg a substantial programme within a youth centre focussed on sexual health awareness, or a project working with young people at risk of misusing drugs.”

I think that the guidelines provide us with a really useful tool for not only reviewing our policies and guidelines (for instance on Drugs, Sex and Realtionships Education etc) but also to assess which areas of our provision are providing what aspect of health and at which level for young people. So now I need to discuss it with the other Senior Managers and then look at how we might implement it across the county… this space!!!  








































































































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