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How adult volunteers contribute to positive youth development in the twenty-first century

  • Denis O'Brien (a1)
Abstract

This article reflects on the importance of adult volunteers in Foróige, a leading Irish youth development organisation. Volunteers make up some 97 per cent of all youth workers in Ireland. Outcomes for huge numbers of young people are mediated through and depend upon volunteers’ suitability, availability, knowledge and skills. The article takes as its starting point three pieces of research in Foróige. Using this evidence, I describe what appear to be the key strengths of the cohorts of volunteers we studied and how Foróige builds on these to reach positive youth development outcomes similar to those sought by the Queensland framework. To support this, Foróige has invested heavily on volunteer development to increase volunteer engagement and provide more roles in which volunteers can participate in achieving youth development outcomes. I explore the value of the positive interactions between volunteers and young people, the role of volunteers in increasing young people's connectedness to community, and the impact on volunteers of other life issues that compete for their time. I outline how the outputs and outcomes of youth work in Foróige would be hugely diminished without adult volunteers.

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References
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Bowden, M. and Martin Lanigan, K. 2011. ‘Youth work as a public good’, Youth Studies Ireland, 6 (2): 319.
Brady, B. Conway, R. Canavan, J. and Koviac, T. 2012. The Foróige Youth Citizenship Programme evaluation report. Galway: University College Galway, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre.
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Russell, N. 2014. ‘How do we measure volunteer engagement?’, Volunteer Administrators Network, http://vannw.org/professional-development/how-do-we-measure-volunteer-engagement.
Seymour, K. 2012. Good practice principles for youth development organisations. 2nd ed. Brisbane: Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance, Griffith University.
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Queensland Review
  • ISSN: 1321-8166
  • EISSN: 2049-7792
  • URL: /core/journals/queensland-review
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