Detached, street-based and project work with young people

Picture: The Street (Carnaby Street) by  Garry Knight. Sourced from Flickr and reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence.

Detached, street-based and project work with young people. Detached youth work has been around for more than a century. How did it begin, and how has it developed? What is the current state of detached and project work?

Contents: introduction · early work · the emergence of detached youth work · detached work today · a note on terms · further reading and references · how to cite this piece

In a sense, the duties of the first person paid and employed by a ‘youth organization’ involved a significant amount of outreach work. T. H. Tarlton was appointed as a ‘missionary’ by members of the newly formed YMCA in 1844. He had to make contact with young men who may want to help form associations and to ‘make himself generally useful among the class to which his efforts will be developed’ (Shedd 1955: 25 – see YMCA section). However, it is really with the development of district visiting and the activities of workers ‘reaching out’ from the emerging forms of youth provision in the second half of the nineteenth century that practice as ‘detached work’ began to emerge.

Early work

Many of the early youth work pioneers were involved in making contact with young men and women on the streets. In some cases, they had a club or institute that wanted they want to encourage young people to join. In others, they sought to set up local institutions or ways of working to meet their needs. A good example of the latter is Maud Stanley’s work around the Five Dials in London 1878). (Stanley was later to become a key figure in the development of girls clubs). A further element was the tradition of rescue and the development of children’s homes by people like Thomas Bowman Stephenson (founder of the National Children’s Homes – first home 1869) or Thomas Barnardo (from 1870 onwards).

While the vast bulk of youth work took the form of provision via clubs and units, we should not forget that these sometimes arose out of the spontaneous efforts of young people themselves – and involved their approaching or being approached by workers. Perhaps the best known example of this was the development of scouting following the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908 (see Baden-Powell as an educational innovator). There was also a tradition at the time among some boys workers (e.g. Charles Russell in Manchester, Working Lads Clubs – 1908) and girls workers (e.g. Lily Montagu, My Club and I – 1954) of making contact with young people in the neighbourhood.

Alternative forms of work continued to develop – associated with settlements, the emerging community associations and with schools (old scholars clubs, play centres etc.) – but overwhelming these were linked to an orientation to some form of building-based or highly organized provision. The disruption and changed social circumstances of the Second World War did bring about some change. There was some concern among policy makers around unattached youth i.e. young people not in membership of youth organizations. The interest here lay in building the foundations for some system of pre-military training. This led to an attempt to register all young people (Board of Education Circular 1577, 1941) – an initiative that soon fell away. Established youth organizations and local authorities remained oriented to expanding fairly traditional forms such as the club or unit. There was some freeing up here in terms of young people being able to ‘drop in’ and we also see the growth of mixed-sex provision. However, there were also a growing number of initiatives associated with settlements and other bodies that developed alternative projects – perhaps focusing on air-raid shelters or on neighbourhoods severely disrupted by bombing (e.g. Paneth 1944; Stimson 1948).

The emergence of detached work

Much of the literature seems to take the late 1950s and early 1960s as the moment when something called ‘detached youth work’ appeared in Britain. (It was also a fairly late arrival as a significant policy option in Ireland – north and south). A number of overlapping factors can be put forward for the attention paid to the development of such work.

  • US material on work with street gangs began to find its way into circulation in Britain. Of particular interest here was the work undertaken in New York by the Welfare Council. (Reported in Crawford, P., Malamud, D. and Dumpson, J. (1950) Working with Teenage Gangs, New York: Welfare Council of New York). In addition to the written material, a number of people familiar with US street work were active in youth work networks in Britain.
  • There had been a growing interest in spontaneous youth groups and the possibility of youth work intervention by key figures such as Peter Kuenstler and Leslie Button (see Kuenstler 1955 below).
  • Experimental forms of work had continued to develop, for example, the Teen Canteen which operated at the Elephant and Castle between 1955 and 1962 and were discussed. They provided examples of alternative ways of contacting young people. (The Teen Canteen was cited by Smith et al 1972: 6 [see below] as influencing their involvement in project work).
  • Moral panics about young people – their delinquency, consumption habits, attitudes and behaviour had been fostered by the press. It was clear that a significant number of young people were not attached to organized youth groups.

In England and Wales the major policy response to the ‘fears’ concerning young people was the appointment of a committee in 1958 chaired by Lady Albemarle to review the contribution that the Youth Service could make in ‘assisting young people to play their part in the life of the community’. The resulting report, published early in 1960 (The Youth Service in England and Wales, London: HMSO) was flawed, but was greeted with some relief in the service. It promised substantially increased funding and had the backing of key figures in the Ministry of Education. While much of resourcing that appeared was linked to club and centre forms of youth provision, some attention was paid to spontaneous groups and to alternative forms. The key paragraph of the report for our purposes here read as follows:

Some are too wary or too deeply estranged to accept, at any rate initially, even the slight commitment required by club membership. We should like to see more experiments made to cater for their social needs in the unconstrained way which they appear to seek. We have in mind the coffee bar sited strategically at the sort of place where they tend to congregate, the ‘drop-in’ club… the experimental youth centre or workshop… We would go even further and suggest there is also a need for experiment with peripatetic youth workers, not attached directly to any organisation or premises, who would work with existing groups or gangs of young people. (paragraph 187)

The result was the funding of a number of experimental projects through the 1960s – perhaps the highest profile being the three-year National Association of Youth Clubs project whose report The Unattached (Morse 1965) was published by Penguin and sold in tens of thousands. A number of substantial projects followed (and are reflected in the listing below). A significant element here was the movement of workers between these projects and the networks established. Of greatest theoretical and practice interest was work undertaken on behalf of the YWCA. Two particular projects stand out: the London YWCA Project (reported in Goetschius and Tash 1969) and Avenues Unlimited, Tower Hamlets (initial reported in Cox 1970 and later by Edgington 1979). The central London project yielded an extraordinarily rich series of accounts of practice that were explored at length and developed into a model. Derek Cox’s reflections on the work of Avenues Unlimited was unusual (and surely right in its emphasis) in setting the work in a community development context.

Significantly, little substantial was published specifically on detached work from the early 1980s (the exceptions being Green 1992, Smith 1994, Dadzie 1995 and Kaufman 2001) to the early 2000s. There was research that examined detached youth work as an aspect of broader provision but detailed explorations of projects have not come into the main youth work publishing arena. At one level this was surprising as there had been a re-emergence of interest in street and detached work by various youth work agencies. In part this arose out of the decline in numbers attending youth centres, and of pressures to reduce youth work budgets (buildings were believed to more expensive). However, while interest grew in detached work – long term governmental experimental or developmental funding did not followed (as this was responsible for many of the earlier reports).

Detached work today

With the onset of the Connexions strategy in England and the establishment of various initiatives targeting the behaviour of those seen as especially difficult and delinquent in local neighbourhoods we have witnessed what appears to a significant increase in funding of projects that attempt to work with the ‘hard to reach’. Indeed, it would appear from the large study undertaken by Crimmens et. al. that there has been something like a fivefold growth in projects since the 1970s – much of it being recent (over half the projects researched were under three years old) (2004: 69). The policies informing these initiatives have entailed a shift in emphasis in the work more fully toward targeting specific individuals and adopting what is basically a case management/casework approach. There is a much stronger focus on working with individuals than groups (see Jeffs and Smith 2002; Smith 2003). This can be seen strongly in Crimmens et. al. (2004: 18). By comparing results from their research (involving 564 projects) with some earlier unpublished work by Skinner (1999 – based on 77 projects) they concluded that there had been a significant movement away ‘from “universal”, area-based work targeting a range of people in an identified geographical area, to a mixture of area- and issues-based work which targets specific groups or individuals’.

Reaching socially excluded young people – some findings from the Crimmens et. al. (2004) study of street-based youth work

Geographical coverage is very uneven.

There has been a significant shift away from longer-term, area-based, projects towards short-term work with particular high-risk groups or on particular issues.

The projects studied appear to serve as important sources of information on educational and career opportunities for young people out of contact with any other agencies. The projects also appeared to be successful in reintroducing young people to education, training and employment and supporting their entry to it.

In order to work successfully with the most excluded young people, workers believed that they had to adopt a flexible approach, based on voluntary involvement and responsiveness to the needs of individual young people. However, this was sometimes in tension with the expectations of some funders, who were concerned about single issues, the achievement of quick, quantifiable, results and the capacity of street-based intervention to control young people’s behaviour.

Current funding regimes aim to achieve the closest fit between policy objectives and practice outcomes. While this has encouraged innovation, tightly targeted, time-limited funding has also destabilised some projects. At least half the projects surveyed were struggling to stay afloat financially. Smaller voluntary sector projects and those run by local residents in response to local need are particularly vulnerable in this environment.

Uncertainties about funding have led to high staff turnover. Smaller projects often tried to ensure cash-flow by avoiding long-term staffing commitments. Three-quarters of project workers in the survey were either volunteers or part-time, sessional staff. More experienced full-time workers were usually too busy with administration to go onto the streets.

While welcoming the advent of Connexions as a potential resource, many street-based youth workers were apprehensive about its apparent rigidity, the narrowness of its focus and its perceived emphasis on achieving tightly demarcated outcomes. Many workers also remain unclear about what, precisely, Connexions is and what its existence will mean for them. Some workers feared a Connexions ‘takeover’, in which developmental youth work will be abandoned in favour of a bureaucratised practice. Crimmens et. al. (2004)

The shape and direction of detached and outreach youth work has shifted significantly since the early 1980s and the pace of change certainly quickened in the early 2000s. Like many other areas of youth work it’s practitioners fell prey to the language and concerns of managerialism and government agendas. One of the questions that must be now asked of some of what is now called ‘street-based youth work’ is whether it is youth work at all. It may involve work with (and sadly, on) young people – but significant strands of the work studied by Crimmens et. al. would have difficulty fulfilling the sort of criteria used by Albemarle and Fairbairn-Milson to judge whether something was youth work. In particular, there are questions with regard to some initiatives around whether participation is voluntary, the extent to which the orientation is case management rather than educational, and the lack of attention to group and association (see introducing youth work).

A note on terms

There has been a good deal of dispute over how to label the work described here. The problem with notions such as ‘detached’ is that it could still be seen as making the youth centre or traditional youth organization the basic reference point. (These are what the workers are detached from). Furthermore, the titling adds to the stereotypical view of detached workers as ‘mavericks’ who float free of attachment. The reality of practice is that a central feature of the work is the process of becoming attached – to a neighbourhood, groups of young people, local community members and so on.

To this can be added the pretty pointless debate between ‘detached’ and ‘outreach’ work. The latter, it is sometimes said, is mainly concerned with bringing people into existing organizations and activities; the former is about ‘working with people where they are at’. In reality most ‘detached’ workers have to use existing organizations, and have a range of activities that people can plug into. Some care is needed around this area.

The term ‘street work’ is one favoured by some European and North and South American workers. The obvious problem here is that much of the work may not take place on the street. Most detached workers have some sort of office and base (with group rooms etc.) Furthermore their contact making may well be ‘off the street’ in schools, various commercial leisure environments, and in people’s homes.

‘Project work’ can be seen as work of a limited duration with a specific purpose or remit.

Further reading and references

Arnold, J., Askins, D., Davies, R., Evans, S., Rogers, A. and Taylor, T. (1981) The Management of Detached Work. How and Why, Leicester: National Association of Youth Clubs. 123 pages. Bibliography. Practical guide built on an exploration of the experiences of workers, managers and management groups in detached youth work. Uses continuum to bring out key dimensions. Part one has chapters on the characteristics of detached work; why start an initiative; basic issues for managers; management; support; communications; managing development; evaluation; developmental boundaries; withdrawal and moving on. Part two has a four step guide to setting up a detached work project – perceived need; steering group/research; proposal; implementing the constitution. [YMCA Collection].

Benetello, D. (1996) Invisible Women. Detached youth work with girls and young women, Leicester: Youth Work Press. 24 pages. Calls for a reassessment of the way work with young women is approached and funded. Looks at the work of twenty projects and provides a series of recommendations.

Bentall-Williams, J. (1984) Anyfing for the Kids, A community development approach to youth work, London: Cambridge House and Talbot. 49 pages. Account of the project and the local estates. Looks a the nature of the approach, various elements of the work and advantages and disadvantages of the project’s approach. Project moved from a traditional detached work approach into community development aimed at getting local adults involved in providing for young people.

Biven, B. M. (1992) The Finality of Youth. Tramps, beats and runaways, Lima, Ohio: Fairway Press. 311 pages. Bibliography. Bit of a publishing oddity, being a book version of reports that first appeared back in the early 1970s. For those interested in detached and project work it makes fascinating reading. An account and analysis of the work undertaken with ‘homeless and itinerant youth’ in the Brighton Archways Venture – an influential piece of project work (1966-1970). Includes a literature review; research methodology; and a detailed review of the project (clients; workers; volunteers; the work). The detail provides a good idea of process. A sign of the times – when I was there a few months ago one of the seafront archways that was home to the project is now a bistro. [YMCA Collection].

Blakebrough, E. (1986) No Quick Fix. A church’s mission to the London drug scene, Basingstoke: Marshalls. 125 pages. Lively account of the development and work of the Kaleidoscope Club, Kingston. The project included a club (often open all night), hostel, educational and medical facilities. Attempted to avoid ‘institutional’ orientation – and has some interesting things to say about the nature of a Christian approach. Avoids the ‘rescue’ orientation of a lot of similar work.

Blandy, M. (1971) Harvest From Rotten Apples. Experimental work with detached youth, London: Gollancz. 190 pages. The second of two books (the first dealt with a youth club – Razor Edge – 1967). Provides an account of moving ‘beyond’ the club. Lots of stories. There is a problem with the title – given that the writer argues that ‘to regard all unattached young people as problem personalities and thereby objects for concern is pedantry of the most bigoted kind’ (p. 13). Used coffee shop and retained a heavy focus on building based (club) work. [YMCA Collection].

Blenheim Project (1970) Blenheim Project Report 1: 1964-1969, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. Another of the 1960s developmental projects. [Detail to be added].

Board of Education (1943) Youth in a City, London: HMSO. [Detail to be added].

Booton, F. & Dearling. A. (eds.) (1980) The 1980s and Beyond. The changing scene of youth and community work, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 204 pages. Bibliography. Collection includes a number of useful chapters related to detached and project work – Areyh Leissner on youth and the social environment; Leslie Silverlock on youth work n the community; and Don Macdonald reviews detached youth work in inner London in the late 1960s and 1970s. [YMCA Collection].

Cammeron, C., Lush, A. & Meara, G. (1943) Disinherited Youth, Edinburgh: Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. [Detail to be added].

Collins, N. and Hoggarth, L. (1977) No Man’s Landmarks, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 138 pages. Influential exploration of detached work by two workers. Focuses on their learning from their work. Chapters on helping relationships; detached youth work; self-image; environments; aspirations; parents; the politics of inexperience; and future developments. One appendix deals with supervision and support; another with the contacts made. Includes pieces written by young people. The book has been put together in a way that communicates the untidiness, explorative and roller-coaster nature of ‘good’ practice. Recommended. [YMCA Collection].

Community Action Projects (1982) Beyond the Hostel. Housing for homeless young people. A youth work approach, Leicester: National Association of Youth Clubs. 128 pages. Interesting study of two housing schemes that used a ‘youth work approach’. Places a useful emphasis on the experiences of the young people involved.

Cowan, M. (1981) Kids in a New Town, Leicester: National Association of Youth Clubs. 56 + ii pages. Exploration of three years work of the Telford Youth Project. Discusses the project; aims and objectives; young people’s involvement; project activities; professionalism and style; and provision in a new town.

Cox, A. & Cox, G. (1977) Borderlines, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. Influential study of a Manchester project. [YMCA Collection]. [Detail to be added].

Cox, D. (1970) A Community Approach to Youth Work in East London, London: Young Women’s Christian Association. 136 + vii pages. Short bibliography. Account of the early days of Avenues Unlimited (see Edginton 1979). Chapters examine the setting; work with residents associations; work with holiday programmes; drug dependency work; youth action; and work with the unattached. There is an assessment of the project plus discussion of various roles. (See also Daniel and McGuire 1972) [YMCA Collection].

Cox, W. A., Moore, R., Newman, R. and Lewis, C. (1969) The Experimental Project with Unattached Young People in the West End of London. The Rink Report 3, London: The Rink Project. 54 pages. Influential project that was involved in the development of Centrepoint and other initiatives.

Crimmens, D. (2004) Reaching Socially Excluded Young People. A national study of street-based youth work, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 88 pages. The report of a major study which provides a snapshot of provision and of some of the issues faced.

Dadzie, S. (1997) Blood, Sweat and Tears. A report of the Bede Anti-racist Detached Youth Work Project, Leicester; Youth Work Press. 107 + xi pages. Brief bibliography. Account of a three year project in Bermondsey that worked with potential or actual perpetrators of racial violence. Examines the project’s history and discusses key issues and provides training notes.

Daniel, S. & McGuire, P. (eds.) (1972) The Paint House. Words from an East End gang, Harmondsworth: Penguin. 128 pages. Book developed out of work undertaken by the editors with a skinhead gang. The members talk about community, the gang, schools, clubs, jobs, bosses, immigrants, violence, football and the police. There is an introduction and conclusion from the editors. Good example of limited-term work with a self-organizing group. [YMCA Collection].

Department of Education and Science (1985) Some detached youth and community work in Sheffield. Report by HM Inspectors, London: DES. The only inspectors report devoted to a review of local detached youth work practice. Outlines the range of provision; the nature of the work; some issues around management, resources and finance; and comments on training. Other local reports worth dipping into for detached work include (1988) Youth Work in London’s West End; and (Ofsted 1993) Aspects of Youth Work and Youth Affairs in the London Borough of Newham [YMCA Collection].

Department of Education and Science (1990) Responsive Youth Work. The Youth Service and urgent social needs, London: HMSO. Includes some material on project work. See also, (Ofsted 1993) Youth Work responses to Young People at Risk. [YMCA Collection].

Edginton, J. (1979) Avenues Unlimited. A research study of youth and community work in East London, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 114 pages. Bibliography. Study of a long established YWCA detached and project work initiative (earlier reported on by Cox 1970). Makes a case for a community approach to youth work. Includes chapters on researching youth and community work; the development of the project (1965-1977); the area; neighbourhood teamwork; decision-making and communication; aspects of fieldwork; working with agencies and agency and community perceptions of the project. Appendices deal with staffing; aims; and the agency survey. [YMCA Collection].

Eggleston, J. (1976) Adolescence and Community. The Youth Service in Britain, London: Edward Arnold. 253 pages. Bibliography, index. Major research study examining youth work practice in the early 1970s. Examines ideology and values; organization; members’ views; membership and participation; adult leadership. Has a useful review of ‘non-institutional youth work’. Highlights the increased burden placed on professional workers; the relative unanimity about the expressed aims of projects (focused on the ‘late [social] developer’); methodological themes – making contact, ‘anabling’ or ‘facilitating’ influence; building relationships; the personality of the worker. Also reviews work with ‘immigrant youth’ and the evaluation of experimental projects. Also includes major case study – YVFF, Stoke on Trent. [YMCA Collection].

Farrant, M. R. & Marchant, H. J. (1971) Making Contact with Unreached Youth, Manchester: Youth Development Trust. 24 pages. Practical guide for workers wanting to make contact with young people.

Farrant, M. R. and Marchant, H. J. (1977) Choosing Objectives. A stage in the detached work process, London: Street Aid. 33 pages. Short bibliography. Discusses the nature of detached work; aims and objectives; client’s expectations; selecting the clientele; geographical area; the nature of selection; workload and target group; the nature of success; and the basis for detached work. Grounded discussion with plenty of good advice.

Gardner, M. (1974) Developmental Work with Young People, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. Useful collection of project summaries – following the earlier YSIC tradition.

Gibson, A. and Clarke, G. (1995) Project-Based Group Work Facilitator’s Manual. Young people, youth workers and projects, London: Jessica Kingsley. 164 pages. Bibliography. Introductory guide to project work with groups of young people. Part 1 examines skill development, dialogue, groups, power and trust, evaluation and the context of your project. Part 2 is looks at how these things may be practised. [YMCA Collection].

Goetschius, G. W. and Tash, J. (1967) Working with Unattached Youth. Problem, Approach, Method, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 402 + xii pages. Bibliography. Index. Classic project report about a YWCA project in Marylebone. Contains rich case study material and displays a detailed attention to analysing process. Chapters examine the background to the project; the sequence of events; the problems of fieldwork; observations concerning key themes (young people, unattached needing help, neighbourhood, staff etc.); approach and method ( work with individuals, with groups, with the community, with ourselves. Social education); implications; and conclusions. Substantial appendices provide facts and figures about the project, discussion of training opportunities, and an exploration of Christian commitment in working with the unattached. One of the best studies of youth work published. See also the revisting of the book by Marion Leigh (1994) ‘Classic texts revisited: Working With Unattached Youth. Problem, approach, method’, Youth and Policy 43: 70-75. [YMCA Collection].

Gosling, R. (1961) Lady Albemarle’s Boys, London: Fabian Society. 26 pages. Lively review of a Leicester-based ‘club’ open 12 hours a day and run by the young people involved (the Leicester Experiment or City Youth Venture). It collapsed after two glorious years (the story is told in Golsing’s ‘autobiography’ (1962) Sum Total, London: Faber & Faber). Taken together they provide a wonderful insight into the possibilities and pitfalls of experimental work in the early 1960s. (See also Ray Gosling [1960] ‘Dream boy’, New Left Review 3: 30-34).

Green, J. (1992) It’s No Game. Responding to the needs of young women at risk or involved in prostitution, Leicester: National Youth Agency. 60 pages. Bibliography. A helpful overview of some of the key issues for young women and workers around prostitution. (Includes a case study on work with young men selling sex). The report includes a discussion of the role of the youth service, recommendations for policy and practice, and provides an annotated bibliography of resources for workers. At its centre, though, is an exploration of practice. This is drawn from various sources but includes several case studies involving detached or outreach work. Includes a useful set of guidelines for good detached or outreach practice produced by Streetwise Youth. [YMCA Collection]

Grunsell, R. (1980) Absent From School. The story of a truancy centre, London: Readers & Writers. (Originally published as Born to be Invisible – Macmillan 1978).117 + x pages. Short bibliography. Story of three years work settingup and running an intermediate treatment centre. Gives strong flavour of project work with young people.

Hening, M., Basidev, A., Davis, A. and Williams, R. (1977) Evaluation of Detached Youth Work, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 23 + xvi pages. Arose out of work in Manchester and includes a discussion of the scope of detached work and models for evaluation – and then examines a number of case studies. [YMCA Collection]

Holden, H. M. (1972) Hoxton Cafe Project. Report on seven years, Leicester: Youth Service Information Centre. 62 pages + vi. Committed and insightful exploration of the project with chapters on the setting; the committee; the workers and the task; the café users; standards, values and the law; and support structures. Includes a summary and recommendations and appendices giving a chronology of key events, the role of the consultant, and a person view of Hoxton. Hoxton is close to the areas where Avenues Unlimited operate (see Cox 1970; Edginton 1979) [YMCA Collection].

Holman, B. with Wiles, D. & Lewis, S. (1981) Kids at the Door. A preventive project on a council estate, Oxford: Blackwell. 211 + viii pages. Bibliography. Index. Account of a Children’s Society project on a council estate. Chapters examine the beginning of the work; the clubs; youngsters; parents; the community; the job; the relevance of the church; and future developments. The workers also lived on the estate. [YMCA Collection]

Hope, P. (1988) Ideas into Action. A handbook on project planning for youth and community workers, Leicester: National Council for Voluntary Youth Services. Practical guide – as the title says.

Ince, D. E. (1971) Contact. A report on a project with unattached young people in an area of high social need in Liverpool, Leicester: Youth Service Information Centre. 83 pages + iv. Short bibliography. Useful account of a three year project with chapters on the inception of the project; intial problems; contacts and meeting people; methods of work; statistics; young people’s attitudes; evaluation; and conclusions and recommendations.

John, G. (1981) In the Service of Black Youth. The political culture of youth and community work with Black people in English cities, Leicester: National Association of Youth Clubs. 245+viii pages. Bibliography. Influential report of the Youth and Race in the Inner City Project. Its significance lay in its rigorous and committed exploration of the experiences of Black young people in youth and community work and the way this is set in within a political analysis (more in the review in the youth work and ‘race’ section). Its significance here lies in the accounts of various projects and intiatives; and in its analysis of the relationship between local authority funded projects and those geared to ‘the black sector’. [YMCA Collection].

Kingsland, M. (1985) Beyond the Drop-In Centre, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 44 pages. Focus on ‘daytime’ work with young unemployed people. Looks at provision (association, activities, advice, action in the community, access to life and vocational skills); provides some case studies; and discusses emerging issues. [NYA]

Leach, S. (1996) Over the Hills and Far Away. A model of detached youthwork for the Rural Contact Project, Herefordshire, Malvern: Community Council of Hereford and Worcester. 26 pages. Booklet provides brief account of the project with a number of appendices dealing with job specifications, report forms, code of practice etc. [YMCA Collection].

Leissner, A. (1969) Street Club Work in Tel Aviv and New York, London: Longmans with National Bureau for Cooperation in Child Care. 316 + xiv pages. While the work was in Israel and North America, the book was written while Leissner was with the National Children’s Bureau, London. Examines the nature of delinquency and delinquent subcultures; key dimensions; detached group work (or street club work)and supervision.

Lewis, B., Chisnall, A. and Hall, A. (1974) Unattached Youth. A study commissioned by the Joseph Rownstree Memorial Trust, London: Blond and Briggs. 171 pages. Bibliography. A study commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust which examines ‘unatttached youth’; young people’s views; how the detached social worker fits in; the contribution of the BIT Information Service and Art Laboratory movements; and provides some recommendations. Concerned with the ‘alternative’ forms that appeared in the late 1960s.

Marchant, H. and Smith, H. M. (1977) Adolescent Girls at Risk, Oxford: Pergamon. 103 pages + xv. Bibliography. Report of a Youth Development Trust action-research project. The project preceded the emergence of ‘girls work’ in the late 1970s, and is distinguished by good analysis and plenty of case material. Chapters on theoretical background and plan of project; the girls; beginnings of fieldwork; developing relationships; termination; research analysis of fieldwork; and the project in retrospect. There are also conclusions and recommendations and appendices giving details of recording forms; results and research findings. [YMCA Collection].

Marks, K. (1975) The York Project. Five years of city centre detached work, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 58 pages. Provides the background to the project and various aspects of the detached work process: surveying the area; contact work; city centre groupings; working relationships; work with individuals; styles of work; use of time; referrals; volunteers. Further sections look to evaluation and support for the worker. [NYA]

Marks, K. (1977) Detached Youth Work Practice in the Mid-Seventies, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 10 pages. Brief but useful review of detached work asking whether it has become established, how it is supported and what are the patterns of staffing? Discusses practical aspects such as funding and expenses and personal support. [NYA]

Masterson, A. (1982) A Place of My Own. Young people leaving home – a youthwork approach, Leicester: National Association of Youth Clubs. 86 pages. Short bibliography. Exploration of a ‘casework’ approach to detached work with case studies and some excellent insights into process. Part 1 looks at the helping model in use (after Egan); part 2 at groupwork around ‘leaving home’ and part 3 examines the contribution of part-time workers. [YMCA Collection].

Mountain, A. (1989) Lifting the Limits. A handbook for women working with young women at risk or in trouble, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 95 pages. Annotated bibliography. The book is split into four sections – groupwork; setting up; issues and ideas; and resources and further reading (by Alison Skinner). Example of an introductory guide to project work. [YMCA Collection].

Mountain, A. (ed.) (1990) Understanding detached Work: and helping others manage I, Leicester: National Youth Agency. Pack includes a collection of material aimed at workers and their managers. [YMCA Collection].

Morse, M. (1965) The Unattached, Harmondsworth: Penguin. 230 pages. Short bibliography. Account of a National Association of Youth Clubs experimental project that sent three workers to different towns under concealed identities to make contact with ‘unattached youth’. An odd concept. Chapters describe the work in the three settings and examine ‘the unattaced’, the varieties of approach utilized and detached workers. A final chapter draws conclusions. [YMCA Collection].

National Association of Youth Clubs (1984) Delivering Rural Youthwork, Leicester: National Association of Youth Clubs. 111 pages. Series of pieces exploring rural youth work. Has particular emphasis on work ‘beyond four walls’. Includes material on mobile youth units, community action programmes etc.

National Black Detached Youth Workers Conference (1992) A Way of Life. Report of the first national Black detached youth workers’ conference, Leicester: National Youth Agency. 10 pages. Provides details of the conference and the workshop groups. [YMCA Collection].

National Youth Bureau (1983) Looking Beyond Street Level – detached work with young women, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 24 pages. Brief bibliography. Sections on making contact; developing the relationship; tensions; support; and management. Useful introductory guide built on the experiences of a number of workers. [NYA]

Office for Standards in Education (1993) Youth Work Responses to Young People at Risk, London: Office for Standards in Education. 15 pages. Fairly bland overview with some examples of practice. [YMCA Collection].

Office for Standards in Education (1993) Aspects of Youth Work and Youth Affairs in the London Borough of Newham. London Borough of Newham Education Authority., London: Office for Standards in Education. 12 pages. Worth looking at because of the authorities move into area work and its advocacy of ‘youth affairs’. [YMCA Collection].

Paneth, M. (1944) Branch Street, London: George Allen and Unwin.128 pages. Pathbreaking discussion of work with a ‘gang of children living in one of London’ slum streets’. The worker was based in a condemned house in the street which became known as ‘play centre’. The workers had made contact with the young people in the surface shelter in the street. Brings out some of the organizational and political dilemmas and the processes involved in building relationships with groups. Also the stresses placed on workers.

Peck, M. D. S. (1944) ‘On a housing estate’ in Industrial Christain Fellowship Trying it Out. A symposium of experience of work among young people, London: Industrial Christian Fellowship. [Detail to be added].

Robins, D. and Cohen, P. (1978) Knuckle Sandwich. Growing up in the working-class city, Harmondsworth: Penguin. 202 pages. Exploration of work undertaken in the early 1970s on a large working-class estate in North London. Part One provides an account of the setting up and fall of the Black Horse Disco (a youth project named after the converted pub which housed it). Part two examines elements of ‘cultural transmission through which this neighbourhood’s internal divisions are reproduced. Here territoriality; hardness; relationships with police; football and other areas are reviewed. In the final part, the writers return to the estate two years after the closure of the Black Horse – examine influence of facism and racism – and argue for a ‘new strategy of social education based on the affinity groups of working class youth, and aimed at releasing their capacities as teachers and spokesmen of their peers’. The book provides an instructive account of the project; some helpful insights into ‘configurations of youth’ in the early and mid 1970s; and a useful manifesto for practice that is culturally located and sensitive, and that is socially committed. [YMCA Collection].

Rogers, A. (1981) Starting Out in detached work, Leicester: National Association of Youth Clubs. 32 pages. Short bibliography. Based on conversations with managers and workers, this booklet tackles the isolation and feelings associated with the work and provides clear guidelines for action and recording during the initial stages of a detached work project. Has been highly rated by beginning workers. [YMCA Collection].

Rogers, A. (1981) Policy and Action for Detached Work – the Project in Support of Alternative Work, Leicester: National Association of youth Clubs. 32 pages. A useful summary report and submission that outlines key policy elements for meaningful detached work – and action statements indicating how policies can be implemented.

Rogers, A. (ed.) (1995) Youth Work. A foundation for the future, London: YMCA George Williams College. 64 pages. Paints a picture of contemporary project work with young people. Looks at the work; the underlying aims and concerns; the settings; and the experiences of workers. Based on case study material. [YMCA Collection].

Rogers, A. (1996) Start Right, London: YMCA George Williams College. 40 pages. A new guide to the processes involved in working in a new project or neighbourhood. Plenty of practical advice. [YMCA Collection].

Smith, C. S., Farrant, M. R. and Marchant, H. J. (1972) The Wincroft Youth Project. A social-work programme in a slum area, London: Tavistock. 283 + xii pages. Exploration of the efforts of a team of workers over four and a half years to make contact with ‘maladjusted and delinquent’ young men and to develop programmes of work with them. Significant because the researchers attempted to discover whether, compared with a similar group in the neighbourhood, the young men had made progress in social development and the avoidance of delinquent behaviour. Provides an overview of the project; explores the process from both the workers’ and clients’ perspectives; and provides a detailed account of changing relationships. There is substantial material on the research and possible conclusions. Author and subject index. [YMCA Collection].

Smith, M. K. (1994) Local Education. Community, conversation, praxis, Buckingham: Open University Press. 192 + viii pages. Bibliography and index. An exploration of the work of detached youth workers, community workers and community educators. Looks at being an educator; being local; conversation; setting aims; structuring the work; embedding practice; relfecting in action; and fostering community, conversation and praxis. [YMCA Collection].

Smith, M. K. (ed.) (1994) Setting Up and Managing Projects, London: YMCA George Williams College.76 + iv pages. Examines the nature of projects; processes involved in their establishment; the significance of business plans; the expectations of funders; line management; developing workers; and how to handle the impact of projects on the organization. [YMCA Collection]

Spencer, J. with Tuxfors, J. and Dennis, N. (1964) Stress and Release in an Urban Estate, London: Tavistock. 356 + xiv pages. Bibliography and index. Influential and detailed study of the Bristol Social Project. Important both for its use of action research within a local community; and because of the focus on group and associational activity. Substantial section on work undertaken with young people with particular attention being given to the ‘Expressos’ and the adventure playground. [YMCA Collection].

Stanley, M. (1878) Work About the Five Dials, London: Macmillan. The book is only accessible at Westminister Public Library, but a key chapter is extracted in Frank Booton’s (1985) Studies in Social Education Vol. 1 1860 – 1890, Hove: Benfield Press. This chapter does, though, give an indication of the sort of street work that was undertaken to set up a night school for young men.

Stein, M., Rees, G. and Frost, N. (1994) Running – The Risk. Young people on the streets of Britain today, London: The Children’s Society.

Stimson, C. (1948) Education After School, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 180 + vii pages. This book analyses a piece of work similar in form to the sort of street project described by Paneth (1944). The workers set up a club and social centre in a house in Liverpool during the Second World War. The first half provides an account of the project; the second examines the social and economic conditions facing the young people; their educational needs; the nature of their social groups; local services for young wage earners; and educational administration. Firmly locates the work in local communities and their institutions.

Timms, N. (1968) Rootless in the City, London: National Council of Social Service. 85 pages. Exploration of a project that began as a lodgings scheme and moved onto a day centre. Entailed a significant amount of street work

Trenchard, L. and Warren, H. (1985) Talking about Youth Work, London: London Gay Teenage Group.

Turner, M. L. (1953) Ship Without Sails, London: University of London Press. [Details to be added]

Ward, D. (ed.) (1982) Give ‘Em a Break. Social action by young people at risk and in trouble, Leicester: National Youth Bureau. 28 pages. Short annotated bibliography. Provides a theoretical overview of a social action approach. Includes three case studies plus discussions of practice, organizational and justice issues.

White, P. (1991) Working with Rural Youth. Six case studies, Leicester: Youth Work Press. 22 pages. Collection of project studies including mobile work, detached work, using trips, and tackling rural racism.

White, P. & Brockington, D. (1978) In and Out of School. The ROSLA Community Education Project, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 200 + xii pages. An account and analysis of experimental work undertaken with ‘fifth year’ school students that used informal educational approaches in a project/club setting. The work had a stress on expressiveness, participation and self-sufficiency. Also includes plenty of practical advice on how to set up and run sucha project.

Whitfield, W. (1991) Learning by Achievement. Ten projects funded by Category xix Education Support Grants 1988-1991, Leicester: Youth Work Press. 41 pages. Brief descriptions of projects including outdoor learning; community housing; adventure activities; and dance and drama. [YMCA Collection].

Whitfield, W. (1991) Working with the Arts. Case studies of six youth arts projects, Leicester: Youth Work Press. 40 pages. Similar to above. [YMCA Collection].

Wild, J. (1982) Street Mates, Liverpool: Merseyside Youth Association. 102 pages. Reflections by a practitioner on detached work undertaken between 1973 and 1982. Useful because of the long term nature of the work. Chapters describe the project and its patch; making contacts; developing relationships; continuing and emerging needs; highlighting needs; towards a better service for the young. [YMCA Collection].

Williamson, H. (ed.) (1995) Social Action for Young People. Aspects of SCF youth work practice, Lyme Regis: Russell House. 140 + xii pages. Bibliography. Collection of articles exploring the practice of social action youth work within Save the Children Fund Projects. Variety of project work covered with introductory chapters by Howard Williamson on social action work plus conclusing comments, observations and analysis. [YMCA Collection].

Youth Service Information Centre (1969) Debate. A collection of professional papers on the future of youth and community work in the 1970s, Leicester: YSIC. Includes Barbara Ward’s ‘The role of a detached youth worker’. This is a significant piece as Ward was a key figure in the development of UK detached work – being connected with the Elephant and Castle, Hoxton, Soho and Archways Projects. Also in this collection are a number of useful pieces rural work, community schooling, school-based work and provision for work in new towns and cities. Includes a select bibliography.

Youth Work Information Centre (1967-1970) Youth Work Project Summaries: a series of concise, descriptive accounts of recent experimental projects in the informal education of young people, Leicester: YSIC. Looseleaf series of project outlines that provide an insight into the orientation and range of projects at the time. 45 projects described. [YMCA Collection].

Youth Service Information Centre (1971) Developmental Projects in work with young people, Leicester: Youth Service Information Centre. Follow up publication to the above. Shorter project summaries organized according to type. 379 projects listed. Useful insight into changing boundaries and orientations. [YMCA Collection].

Some north American texts

I have listed here some of the US texts that appeared to have influence the development of practice in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Bernstein, S. (1964) Youth on the Streets. Work with alienated youth groups, New York: Association Press.

Crawford, P., Malamud, D. and Dumpson, J. (1950) Working with Teenage Gangs, New York: Welfare Council of New York.

Kelley, P. (1959) reaching the Teen-Age Addict – A study of street club work with a group of adolescent users, New York: New York City Youth Board.

Klein, M. W. (1971) Street Gangs and Street Workers, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (1967) Neighborhood Gangs – A casebook for youth workers, New York: National Federation.


Jeffs, T. and Smith, M. K. ‘Individualization and youth work’, Youth and Policy 76 pp. 39-65. Available in the informal education archives:

Kaufman, S. (2001) ‘Detached youth work’ in F. Factor (eds.) The RHP Companion to Working with Young People, Lyme Regis: Russell House.

Smith, M. K. (2003) ‘From youth work to youth development. The new government framework for English youth services’, Youth and Policy 79, Available in the informal education archives:

© Mark K. Smith. 1996, 2005

How to cite this piece: Smith, M. K. (1996, 2005). ‘Detached, street-based and project work with young people’  in The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education. [ Retrieved: insert date]