What age-group do you work with?

How old, if you see what I mean, are young-people? To whom (I hate using “whom” but, Sarah & Tessa, the grammar police will be on to me otherwise) is youth work aimed?
The Government currently think that they are 13-19 years old, however they also think that youth work is about working with young people in their “transition from dependence to independence.” Does this mean that the government think that all 19 year olds are independent? Does it mean we should stop working with them at 19 because they ought to be? (perhaps I’m being a bit harsh because there is provision above 19 but the majority of funding is certainly 13-19). I’ve come across definitions of young people that go up to 21 and to 25, while in speaking to young people (always more pragmatic) they’ve said that it should be about need not age and recognise that not all young people are at the same stage at the same time! Seems sensible. Some of the most successful Faith based work I’ve seen has been about stage not age in terms of joining.
The lower age bracket becomes even more complicated. Churches that talk about “youth groups” are often referring to work with 11 plusses? Not to say that’s not youth work and it does present interesting challenges, 12 year olds for example: The Girls look about 17 and the boys are often, very much still, boys. However I guess the Government class these as Children?
Now there’s also the interesting sub-phenomena of “Tweenagers,” this according to the Marketing people is the “stage between the childhood
and teenage years” (Mindbrand Market research). Talking to practitioners I reckon it’s a combination of children’s work and youth work skills that are needed with this age range. However what age range is that? Peter Brierley reckons 10-14, Martin Lindstrom reckons 8 -14’s and Sutherland and Thompson concentrate on 9-11’s! My own conclusion is that we are talking, mainly, about 9’s -12’s!
In many respects all of the above is just academic (although I find it interesting). Our youth work/ministry is about accompanying young people on the journey to adulthood in a way that is age appropriate and stage appropriate, chronology and maturation.
That doesn’t really answer the question though, when people ask,
“What age-group do you work with?”

3 Replies to “What age-group do you work with?”

  1. the ‘transition from dependance to independance’ between 13 and 19 interests me. At 16 I could legally have been married and pregnant!! according to the government, at 18 I am totally independant (except for university means-testing at which point I become independant at 21!).
    I suppose for most people, 18/19 is when they stop going to a ‘youth’ group and start attending a ‘student’ group – aimed at 17-24ish. What about those who aren’t students? I’ve met at least 3 ex-students at the CU, because CU is a church in itself and there is no ‘adult’ group to go to after you leave uni.

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