Universal Youth Work - A Critical Review of the Literature

02 April 2015

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Youth Scotland is one of three funders of the research commissioned by the Edinburgh Youth Work Consortium to describe "what is universal youth work" and the research available to demonstrate the outcomes of youth work.  The summary report was launched on Thursday 2nd April at an event hosted by Moray House in Edinburgh.

Key messages from the summary are:

  • Universal youth work has the potential to contribute to a range of important outcomes and achievements for young people, in particular health and wellbeing, educational attainment and employment.
  • Universal youth work draws on a wide array of traditions and principles that combined can identify and nurture the potential of young people in contemporary society.
  • The youth work sector needs to be more informed about the nature and purpose of its impact through ongoing longitudinal research.

Critically, the review finds "evidence that universal youth work produces positive outcomes and that these resonate with a broader political and policy agenda as evident in the National Outcomes of the Scottish Government".  Evidence suggests that universal youth work settings can generate a range of health and wellbeing outcomes, make a contribution to improving formal educational outcomes, and impact on employability as well as providing safe yet challenging spaces for personal and social development and intercultural learning.

LAYC provided a leadership role and the work was undertaken by Dr Callum McGregor, University of Dundee.  The summary report was published jointly by Edinburgh Youth Work Consortium and University of Edinburgh.  The Robertson Trust, Youth Scotland, and YouthLink Scotland collaborated in the funding of this research.

Download the summary report below.


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