Working with young people: Principles & Practice

Working with young people: principles and practices Level 3 (4 credits)

Understand the values and core principles of working with young people.

  • Summaries the core values and principles of working with young people
    • The values we practice at the Prince’s Trust for effectively working with young people.
      • Approachable – We are open minded and value diversity
        • Listen actively and understand where the person is coming from before reaching a conclusion
        • Embrace that each person is different by accepting and respecting their views, culture and characteristics
        • Value people’s different skills, experiences and knowledge
        • Be aware of your actions and self reflect to build an open and trusting environment
      • Non-Judgmental – We focus on the potential not the past
        • Take time to understand people’s positive motivations before judging their actions
        • Give constructive feedback, focusing, where possible, on strengths
        • Be supportive, sympathetic and empathetic
        • Use regular one to one meetings with your line manager to discuss the effectiveness of the feedback you give and receive
      • Inspiring – We lead by example
        • Display a “can-do” attitude, strive for excellence and quality in every task
        • Demonstrate competence in the core skills of your role as agreed with your line manager
        • Speak up and out constructively
        • Champion The Trust’s policies and procedures
      • Empowering – We enable positive change
        • Embrace change and new ways of working
        • Take ownership for finding solutions, making decisions and collaborating on tasks with your colleagues
        • Constantly develop your knowledge, skills and abilities
        • Take responsibility for ensuring tasks are completed to the standard and timescales expected
      • Passionate – We are absolutely committed to supporting young people
        • Demonstrate energy and tenacity when dealing with challenges
        • Champion the work of The Trust – inspiring young lives
        • Celebrate the success of others – for example, by thanking colleagues and external supporters
        • Be positively involved with your team to achieve results together
  • Explain how government legislation influences work with young people
    • There are many legislation that affects work with young people though the practice of youth work on the ground does not particularly require a specific legal framework. However, if youth work is considered to be a distinct public service, different from education, social welfare, employment services or public health, there can be a need for a specific regulatory framework as well.
      Two pieces of legislation that has affected working with young people in recent years is the raise in participation age and the changes in the benefit system with the change over from JSA to universal credit.

      • Education and Skills Act 2008[1]
        • The education and skills act 2008 applies to (1.) any resident in England and who has ceased to be of compulsory school age, has not reached the age of 18 or has not attained a level 3 qualification. (2.) A young person who falls within those brackets must be participating in appropriate full-time education or training or be participating in training in accordance with a contract of apprenticeship, or full time occupation.
          This legislation has a huge impact on how we engage young people and under what education authorities or educational institutions we support young people. We then have to consider if we can legally engage and support a young person under the implementation of this legislation.
      • Welfare Reform Act 2012[2]
        • The welfare reform act 2012 impacts young people who have been awarded government subsidies for (3.)
            • A standard allowance
            • An amount for responsibility for children or young persons
            • An amount for housing
            • Amounts for other particular needs or circumstances.

          As part of the universal credit claimant commitment there are restrictions under what circumstances a young person can attain benefits. As part of this a young person but be able to commit to a (18.) ‘work availability requirement’. This could impact the participation a young person receiving universal credit could have with a youth organisation as under the work availability requirement they must be (18.2.) able and willing immediately to take up paid work (or more paid work or better-paid work). We need to consider the implications of a young persons engagement.

Understand the issues that are important to young people

  • Identifying issues that may affect young people
    • Education (e.g. educational underachiever, exams, assignments, balancing school and work commitments, leaving school, career options)
    • Mental health issues (e.g. disorders, anxiety, depression, self harm, body image, feeling isolated or lonely)
    • Employment (e.g. gaining employment, sustaining employment, zero hour contracts, benefit changes, generational under employment, under skilled)
    • Benefits (e.g. job seekers allowance, universal credit, housing benefit, ESA)
    • Immigration status (e.g. refugee, right to remain, family status, right to work)
    • Criminal (e.g. criminal record, struggle to gain employment, court case pending. sex offender, probation, youth offending units, suspended sentences, gang affiliations, ASBOS)
    • Family or relationship problems (e.g. arguments with parents, siblings, friends, girlfriend/ boyfriend, abuse, cultural)
    • Bullying or harassment from peers, work colleagues or others
    • Alcohol or drug use (e.g. direct and indirect affects, drug culture, alcoholism, social pressures, war on drugs, health issues)
    • Physical Health (e.g. chronic illness, disability)
    • Personal safety and violence
    • Cultural (e.g. cultural identity, difficulties assimilating, conflicting believes, restrictions, persecution, racism, xenophobia, customs)
    • Family changes (e.g. care leaver, adoption, parents separating or getting divorced, new step-parents or step-siblings, leaving home, living away from home)
    • Life changes (e.g. moving house/town, changing schools, homelessness, illness of parent/sibling/relative)
    • Sex and sexuality (e.g. contraception, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, sexual identity, “coming out”, sexism)
    • Abuse (e.g. physical, verbal or sexual)
    • Money (e.g. debt, paying board/contributing at home, mobile phone bills, budgeting)
  • Ways that young people can be encouraged to express their views, concerns and needs.
    • Group Session – Groups session help young people express and converse about issues that are important to them. By being able to discuss it helps to encourage people to express different perspectives and acknowledge similarities and difficulties. Isolated individuals gain a better understanding of interdependence of how different lives interlink. The limitation of these sessions is that a young person might find it difficult to express their opinion surrounded by their peers.
    • One to one – One to ones sessions help young people have a safe environment in which to express views, concerns and needs. It helps you be able to monitor, evaluate and accredit the work. It helps to tell the young people the aims of the consultation and the difference it will make, give regular feedback on how they have influenced decisions and make sure their expectations are realistic and attainable. The draw back of one to one is that a young person might have a particular disposition towards identifiers of the other party or they might not feel they are able to express themselves to that individual.
    • Arts – Utilising the Arts to as a means of expression is effective as it allows young people to both directly and indirectly tackle personal area’s of concern through a means of escapism. Issues that they might find difficult to process into a discussion can be transformed in to form that makes sense to that young person. Activities in the arts allow young people to engage in escapism which allows them to disassociate from their own circumstances and through another medium express thoughts and feelings.
    • These are just a few ways but I would like to mention that sports, adventures activities, residential (change of setting) are others that can be utilised to help young people express their views, concerns and needs.
  • Explain what can motivate and demotivate young people
    • Motivation – There are many ways to motivate young people to move forward with their lives. Everyone is motivated by different things in order to become motivated and by treating a young person as an individual you will be best positioned to identify what kind of motivation they require. One school of thought is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs[3] in which Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.In order to discover what kind of motivation a young person requires it’s helps to try and identify what needs they need to be met. It’s important to try to establish where they are in their lives, how much they might want to change something like maladaptive behaviour and  what they are willing to do. It’s important to listen, accept and potentially challenge and reflect. Take time to understand where someone is from a motivational perspective.
      Some techniques that can help to motivate a young person are.

      • Recognition of achievement – Recognising achievement can boast confidence, aspirations, improve motivation for learning and keep a young person engaged. By taking the time to Plan, record and recognise achievements can help young people to reflect on their learning and development.
      • Set goals – Setting goals gives a long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses acquisition of understanding, and helps a young person to organise their time and resources so that they can make the very most of their life.
      • Be consistent and enthusiastic – It is important to be consistent and fair when dealing with both positive and negative behaviour so that the young people have a reasonable expectation of what type of consequences, or effect their behaviour will have on them or others, not doing so could lead to a feeling of unfairness and demotivate young people. It is important to demonstrate enthusiasm plays a central role in holding young peoples attention, generating interest, and developing positive attitudes toward learning.
    • Demotivate – Young people who are experiencing difficulties or who might be difficult to engage might be more prone to becoming demotivated. In the same way that to motivate we take in to consideration of needs we should do this to avoid demotivating as attempting to motivate them by an ineffective method is likely to demotivate the person you are trying to engage. It’s also important to note that there might be multiple reason why a young person might not want to engage or doesn’t feel motivated to partake in a task and that the reason might not be apparent. There is a risk of demotivating further by trying to engage someone who is not in a position to receive motivation.
      Some common causes of a young person becoming demotivated are…

      • Lack of progress
      • Poor communication
      • Feeling of not being understood
      • Mental health issues
      • Anxiety
      • Environmental
      • Low self esteem
      • Bad experience
      • Not engaged with subject
      • Unapproachable environment
      • External issues

Understand how to make and sustain contact with young people and develop appropriate relationships with them

  • Compare methods used to engage young people
    • There are 3 main methods of communication I use to engage young people. Each has it’s own benefits and the effectiveness of the engagement depends on the level of support or communication needed. Research suggests that three components of effective communications: body language accounts for 55%, voice tone for 38% percent and spoken words for 7% percent[4], this is something to take into account when engaging because depending on the detail and depth of the engagement would depends which form of communication would be most effective.
      • Face-to-face – Face-to-face communication is important to build trust and create a safe environment in which young people feel they are able to express themselves. 93% of communication are non verbal cues[5] which we pick through body language and expressions and this is only something that can be picked up via visual communication. Bonds are quickly built that sets the foundation for trust and ultimately, lasting engagement. It’s also great for planning as a short conversation could eliminate countless emails. There’s a positive dynamic and opportunities to participate and creatively contribute in a face to face discussion. The drawback is that it is quite time consuming and can often be difficult to organise face to face meetings.
      • Via phone – Short of talking with someone face-to-face, a phone call is the best way to get a personal communication beginning. It has the benefit of being able to communicate from any location and on the go without the need for both participants to be in close proximity. On the telephone tone of voice gives dimension and emotion to words. It makes effective personal communication which can be really helpful when engaging young people as a toneless medium are simply words open to interpretation by the receiver, without the benefit of voice tone or body language.
      • Via email or text – Email and text messaging are another form of engagement and are most likely the most popular form of contact with young people. Emails are a great way of communicating facts or organising a event as the communication can be stored in an inbox and revisited when needed. It is faster and easier to transmit and disseminate important information and allowing for almost real time updates. It also creates a virtual paper trail which is helpful for maintaining records. Unlike the other two forms of communication, email and text can be used effective to communicate to groups which saves time and energy. It can be accessed at the leisure of the young person which the other forms of communications do not. For simple communications this is the most effective form of communication but lacks the personalised interacting the other forms of communication offers and often can be misinterpreted or overlooked. When dealing with complex problems that require a more human read of the issue, email is not the most effective means of contact. Though this form of communication can be really helpful for those who have problems communicating verbally because of issues like social anxiety, speech impediments or more recently I’ve found that young people whose communication channels are restricted often use this form of communication.
  • Explain the process of engaging and maintaining relationships with young people
    • [Explained process in the context of my current role] I consider there are 3 stages to engagement for a young person, these are pre-programme, on-programme and post-programme. The engagement and relationship is different depending at what stage the young person is at.
        • Pre-programme – This is conducted by the outreach team and my involvement is not directly with the young person at this stage.
          Outreach Process
        • On-programme – This stage is where the young person is now engaged and attending the course. In my role I manage and challenge the behavior of the young people. In a group setting I engage the young people through a series of activities that are jointly delivered by a delivery partner and myself. Through these activities I get to know more about the young people and they emphasis the post programme support as well as taking the time to explain the dynamic of the relationship post programme. At this phase it’s about building up trust and developing a bound with the young person while establishing boundaries.
        • Post-programme – After the course has been delivered I support young people into a ‘positive outcome’ and this is where the dynamic of relationship goes from initial engagement to maintenance. I communicate with the young person discussing their support needs and ambitions in order to help tailor one to one support. I maintain the relationship by keeping regular weekly contact often by email, and often monthly support via phone or face to face depending on the progression support needed.
  • Explain the boundaries of own role in building relationships with both young people and colleagues.
    • It is important to establish set boundaries as the purpose of a youth workers engagement is to support the young person on to their next steps and not to become a figure of dependency. Boundaries help give youth workers the power to allow a positive consequence to occur when the young person has done their part as opposed to rules which depend on an implementation of a figure of a higher status to enforces. Boundaries also help to maintain an appropriate relationship, offer structure and limits while offering young people certain freedoms and encouragement with that structure. It is essential to implement boundaries when establishing contact as to ensure an appropriate, fit for purpose and functioning dynamic with the young person in order to identify goals and actions needed to support their ongoing training and personal development needs. This ensures a safe and supportive environment for young people, vulnerable adults who receive support, as well as for staff and volunteers.
    • It is equally as important to establish boundaries with colleagues in order to maintain a high level of professionalism and fit for purpose relationships. For example laying out the limitations of your work clearly. For instance, if you don’t want your colleagues and clients to contact you at all hours, verbally telling them the hours you will be available for work-related conversations
    • Here are some examples of what would be acceptable and unacceptable boundaries given the nature of the relationship [6] …
      • Acceptable
        • I should report any concerns I have about a risk to a young person to my Trust contact (Safeguarding; working with mental health needs; refugees and asylum seekers)
        • If I suspect the young person I’m working with is involved in criminal activity, I should notify my line manager or a Prince’s Trust contact who will then decide if it’s appropriate to alert the police (Confidentiality)
        • If my young person tells me about something bad they have done it is not my role to tell them off (confidentiality)
        • If a young person turns up high or drunk I should stay with them until they are OK (Drugs and alcohol – If a person or group is suspected of being intoxicated with drugs or alcohol they will have to leave that session immediately and go home when it is safe for them to do so.  But If with staff or volunteer, the young person should be taken away to somewhere safe where they can sober up and there should be at least one member of staff with them at all times)
        • I can provide the young person I am working with with a reference (Supporting statements)
        • I can share my life experiences with my young person
        • If my young person had a housing issue, I could support searching for new accommodation on their behalf.
      • Not Acceptable
        • If there’s something I don’t like about a young person I’m working with I can request not to meet them again (Diversity)
        • Meeting the young person in a pub would be OK (Drugs and alcohol)
        • If a young person turned up at my house, I would let them in (Personal safety and lone working)
        • I can share a cigarette with the young person I’m working with (Smoke free)
    • It is worth mentioning that there will not always be a clear answer in every situation. We must make informed decisions, ensuring the safety of ourselves and young people.

Be able to reflect on the diversity of young peoples’ experiences within the community

  • Explain what is meant by ‘community’
    • Community can be defined as[7]
      • A social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
      • A locality inhabited by such a group.
      • A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.
      • A group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage.
  • Describe how own organisation’s role relates to the community in which it is based and the young people it serves.
    • Our organisation has a huge role to play in the community as we work locally to support young people in the area’s they are in. Also, in order to gain access to those young people we need to work in conjuncture with other community services such as probation, youth clubs, job centres and youth providers. It enables an a two way exchanges of knowledge, experience and skills between the Trust and other organisations to better support young people. By better understanding the communities we work with we fulfil our role to  support the needs of young people marginalised and excluded communities as well as the mainstream. A large part of many of our programmes is about recognising the positive contribution young people make to their local community, helping our young people feel a better sense of interdependence in a community environment.
  • Describe the range of experiences of young people with whom own organisation works.

Understand the key features of a culture which promotes equality and values diversity and inclusion

  • Define the terms equality, diversity and inclusion
    • Equality[9] – The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities. (I would argue that it would be more in keeping with the Trust aims and values to change equality to equity as I think it fits better with our policies. Equality from my understanding would mean we would be unable to prioritise support based on predetermined target groups as everyone deserves an equal chance. Equity means that everyone is treated fairly and justly according to their need. That is my personal opinion.)
    • Diversity[10] – The inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, Colour, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.
    • Inclusion[11] – The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure
  • Describe legislation, regulations and codes of conduct relevant to the promotion of equality and valuing of diversity and inclusion.
    • There are many legislations, regulations and code of conducts surrounding equality and it’s implementation. The purpose of valuing equality, diversity and inclusion is stop discrimination based on the protected characteristics of an individual. (e.g. age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.)
  • Explain the benefits of promoting equality, diversity and inclusion for young people.
    • There are many benefits to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion to young people…
      • It allows young people to access our support without fear of persecution or discrimination.
      • It can help to remove a fear of characteristics that the young person does not have.
      • It helps to create a respect that differences in our communities are something which can benefit everyone.
      • It creates a sense of interdependence focused on how different lives interlink.
      • It involves working together for a common good and acknowledging that we are connected.
  • Explain the impact of inequality and discrimination on young people
    • There are many detrimental impacts created by the presence of inequality and discrimination for example young people who experience inequality and discrimination are more likely to…[12]
      • be involved in criminal activity. (Source)
      • be educational underachievers (Source)
      • have lower levels of trust (Source)
      • have difficulties developing relationships (Source)
      • suffer from health problems (Source)
      • suffer from mental health issues (Source)


[1],. ‘Education And Skills Act 2008’. N.p., 2008. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[2],. ‘Welfare Reform Act 2012’. N.p., 2012. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[3],. ‘Classics In The History Of Psychology — A. H. Maslow (1943) A Theory Of Human Motivation’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[4] & [5],. ‘Silent Messages’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[6],. ‘Trustnet Secure Login’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[7],. ‘The Definition Of Community’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[8],. ‘Target Groups And Backgrounds’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[9],. ‘The Definition Of Equality’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[10],. ‘The Definition Of Diversity’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[11],. ‘The Definition Of Inclusion’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.
[12],. ‘ The Equality Trust | The Equality Trust’. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.