Its National Youth Week here in Australia and we are ramping things up at Ultimate Youth Worker. This week Our Director of Operations had the privilege of hosting a forum for The Youth Affairs Council of Victoria. The forum focused on how youth workers can best provide opportunities for engagement and participation for young people. During this session on of the gaps that was identified in the local area was the lack of communication and networking between service providers.
Youth participation and engagement is our core business as youth worker’s. However, to be most effective we need to know what is going on in our area and who is doing it! A dozen youth workers from eight youth service providers spoke about the need for there to be more opportunities for them to meet each other and speak about the things that are going on in their area. Many spoke of their networking with each other on an ad hoc basis. Most knew of each others organisation. No one knew everyone or the programs which they ran. The networks were pretty much in disarray.
As the session progressed the youth workers began to get to know each other. They worked out what each other did and what programs they ran. They began asking each other more pointed questions. In all they got to know each other better. As we were finishing up it was a great thing to see all the youth workers exchanging numbers and working out times to meet again. Networking is an extremely useful and enjoyable experience but one we as youth workers struggle to do.
Whatever situation you find yourself in currently, you can always build your network. It doesn’t take going to a seminar or a training session. All you need to do is stick out your hand and say hi to another person. In youth work we need to have great networks as it sets us up to collaborate with other organisations to provide the best service possible to our young people. In the current landscape of service cuts and funding constrictions it is the service providers with the best networks that are moving ahead in leaps and bounds where others are flailing.
The difference between a good youth worker and an Ultimate Youth Worker can often be their network and collaborations.