Post by Andrew Hadley, CEO Momentum World

Storm Ciara tried to keep us all away. Flights were cancelled across Europe. Trains stopped running up and down the UK. Motorways were blocked by overturned lorries. But we persevered. One by one, representatives of 15 countries came together in Leicester, the home of the National Youth Agency, to discuss policy developments in the field of youth work: different contexts, but common issues and priorities.

Such perseverance is arguably the core quality of good youth work. Many young people face intractable issues, whether social, educational, health, employment or other. These are not open to a quick fix, but require long term support and patience. In chaotic lives, the risk of slipping backwards is always there. Good youth work, and good youth workers, provide the constancy of motivation, safety and trust that make all the difference. They can also create the unexpected magic that changes lives.

What we’ve agreed this week is that in all our countries young people have similar needs, and that there is no cut-off point between those who have “issues” and those who don’t. It is a matter of degree, and everyone is somewhere along the same scale. The case for universal youth work is strong, and with leadership from organisations like the NYA it is beginning to be heard. This week organisations from all over Europe added their support.
Few would deny that we are living in a changing world. Bad weather is the least of our problems. We all need a bit more magic.