Youth work in Ireland: the struggle for identity

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Jenkinson, Hilary
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Social Care Ireland
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This paper discusses the struggle the youth work sector in Ireland has experienced in forming a conceptual and practice based identity . Youth work in the Irish context is a relatively new discipline both in theoretical and practical terms and its development on the ground has been severely hindered by "the erratic and fitful evolution of policies .. .insecure employment conditions, inadequate resources and a constant search for funding from a bewildering array of sources" (Gilligan 1991 p.89). This article outlines some central principles that are fundamental to youth work practice, and identifies practice contexts which adhere to these tenets. The article provides an overview of agencies in Ireland that work with young people, and locates the voluntary youth work sector within this broader context. Factors influencing the development of this sector are explored and the article concludes with a brief outline of the background and aims of three voluntary youth organisations
Youth work , Voluntary youth work sector
Jenkinson, Hilary (2000) "Youth Work in Ireland: The Struggle for Identity," Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies: Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 6. Available at:
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