Side by Side: A case study analysis of the experiences of young people formerly involved in a youth participation project
Body, Alison; Hogg, Eddy (2016)

Alison Body, School of Childhood and Education Sciences, Canterbury Christ Church University, and Eddy Hogg, Centre for Philanthropy, University of Kent

Youth work in England is undergoing rapid and significant change. In the backdrop of austerity, welfare reform and altered commissioning arrangements, voluntary sector organisations involved in these services are having to realign services and reconsider their work with young people. Ultimately the national youth offer and youth work has changed radically, fuelling a debate about the very function and impact of youth work.

This paper makes an important contribution to this debate by presenting original research on what young people themselves prioritise as important in this area of work and highlighting the longer term impacts voluntary sector organisations can have on the lives of more vulnerable young people.

Working with a charity who have been delivering youth participation projects since 2003 to vulnerable children and young people, we carried in-depth semi-structured interviews with 10 former beneficiaries who had been involved in one or more of these projects between 2003-2008 and explored their experiences and perceptions of the impact this work had on their life journey ten years on.

The findings suggest that beneficiaries felt the support they received was, in most cases, ‘transformative’ in their lives. However, they defined their experiences and the impact of a project through their relationship with individual staff and volunteers supporting them, and less so with defined services, projects or the wider organisation. Furthermore, the findings suggested the young people engaged in these programmes were very likely to go on to volunteer, have a strong desire to ‘give back’, are likely to engage in community participation and advocacy, and have an increased sense of social responsibility and supporting others. This paper highlights both learning for voluntary sector organisations working with children and young people, and academics and policy makers researching participation and youth work.


Alison Body is a Senior Lecturer for the School of Childhood and Education Sciences, in the Faculty of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. Previously having worked in senior management positions across the voluntary sector, including positions of fundraising, business management, commissioning and strategic development, she is particularly interested in the relationship between social policy, the voluntary sector and how this impacts the lives of children, young people and their families. She has conducted research on the relationship between the state and voluntary sector, early intervention services for children and fundraising. She teaches on a range of courses relating to childhood, the voluntary sector and education.

Eddy Hogg is a Lecturer in the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent.  His research looks at volunteering, charitable giving and public attitudes to the voluntary sector.  Recently he has worked on research looking at public attitudes towards charity regulation in England and Wales, a review for Sport England on the motivations of sports volunteers, research on the value of charity involvement in supporting young people and, a review of charitable giving to heritage and culture in England.  He teaches a range of courses on the voluntary sector and volunteering.


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