The purpose of outreach youth work
Outreach youth work complements existing services, it does not replace them. The key mission of outreach youth work is to reach young people who are not receiving any services or who receive support services but still need someone to walk beside them and guide them. The goal is to improve their readiness to study or find a job by improving their life skills and helping them solve life’s challenges.
In addition to supporting individual young persons and groups, outreach youth work also plays another role in society: it makes heard the voices of young people not receiving any services and draws attention to lacking services and support network gaps through which young people may fall in our society. Outreach youth work also produces information about young people’s living conditions and topical phenomena. This is because the work takes place among and with young people who are often more aware of the weaknesses of the service system than the professionals running it.
Outreach youth work is always free of charge for young people. Outreach youth workers do proactive work among young people who often also need retroactive services. Sometimes the work is very intensive, moving on the border between youth work and social guidance. It is nonetheless firmly anchored in youth work due to the legislation, ethos and basic mission that guide it. The purpose of outreach youth work is to help young people build a life that satisfies them and enable them to move forward in life. The young person is at the centre of outreach youth work as a subject who makes their own life decisions with the support of a professional.
An outreach youth worker establishes a confidential, respectful relationship with a young person, helping the young person to commit to a process that supports their independence, inclusion and ability to build a good everyday life and future. Outreach youth work – just like all youth work – also aims to help young people create peer communities.
Outreach youth work is always voluntary for young people, and it does not involve sanctions or requirements. This lowers young people’s threshold to accept the service and engage in cooperation. An outreach youth worker is a safe adult who takes account of a young person’s overall well-being, supports them in all areas of life and accepts and respects them as they are. A youth worker helps the young person understand the various expectations present in our society and find a way to adjust to these expectations without compromising their own way of life too much.
An outreach youth worker always sits “on the same side of the table” with the young person, helping them to find the services they need and want and to access them at the right time. Mobile by nature, outreach youth work is a service without walls – wherever young people are, that is where outreach youth workers are. In practice, this may mean that outreach youth workers go out to meet young people or personally help an individual person visit government agencies or services.