We want to see young people enjoy their high school years and build a great foundation to launch themselves into adult life. We want to see a good, strong, healthy next generation of New Zealanders coming through.
Young New Zealanders need more time spent with them. They need more listening, more encouraging and more “hanging in there”. More people who can be there for them. It requires an approach based on relationships not programmes. It encompasses role modelling, being accessible to young people and being around to help young people make good choices.
This approach benefits not only individual young people but the communities they are a part of. As we know, great youth work (and education) should fit within and contribute to vibrant, diverse and connected communities.
The distinctiveness of 24-7 YouthWork can most simply summarised by these two phrases:
Being Local; Staying Committed
We work with ALL young people
We don’t focus solely on visibly troubled young people. It is a myth that young people who aren’t showing at-risk behaviour are automatically fine. Many young people wrestle with all kinds of pressures and problems that are internalised.
A collaborative attitude
We actively build links with other groups because we achieve more by working together. We sincerely believe we aren’t the answer, merely a key ingredient of a local solution.
Community based, birthed and sourced
This makes us more accessible, more sustainable and more adapted to the local context. Our people live in the local community. This allows a natural continuity of relationship and opens doors to different facets of wider community life. Young people will meet our youth workers not just at school but at the supermarket, the DVD store and the sport’s club.
Because 24-7 YW leadership is based and grown locally it is truly indigenous to each community. 24-7 YouthWork combines local leadership and management with a national network. Local autonomy is guaranteed while network provides quality assurance, training, resources and support.
We are about being relational with some great programmes rather than having great programmes with some relationships.
For us a 12-18 month time frame is short-term. We ask our youth workers to commit to three to five years.
Each youth worker is backed by additional volunteers who support them in a variety of ways in the life of the school.
What we are doing is so significant it can inspire young adults to put aside career and travel plans for three to five years to serve young people. As this vision grows it becomes compellingly attractive to others. Alongside this we provide the training, support and camaraderie to make this sustainable over the long run.
The story of 24-7 YouthWork began in the early nineties with Spreydon Youth Community (SYC) – the youth arm of Spreydon Baptist Church in South-West Christchurch. Over time a strong leadership team emerged, with a commitment to a whole lifestyle of leadership amongst youth.
An increasing concern for the wider community also developed as it experienced substantial growth in the numbers of volunteers and the young people that it engaged with. SYC Trust was formed in 1997 to provide a more effective support structure.
During the same period a relationship with local high schools formed as leaders from SYC became involved as teaching staff and as volunteers. The work proved particularly effective at Riccarton High School (RHS). In 1999 SYC and RHS recognised this and formalised the relationship in order to resource these volunteers and ensure a long term, sustainable work.
In 2000, SYC named the initiative “24-7 YouthWork” (24-7YW) to reflect its holistic nature and its involvement with young people in all the various settings in a local community.
It utilised two part-time paid youth workers at RHS and five volunteers working with Cashmere High (CHS) and Hillmorton High (HHS). The scheme was resourced by community funding and by contributions from RHS.
In 2001, both Cashmere and Hillmorton High Schools formalised SYC’s input into their schools. This saw more youth workers deployed; two at HHS, and three at CHS. Once again the funding came from school and church contributions and wider community funding. Another milestone was a 2003 research project on SYC which evaluated and confirmed the value of 24-7 YouthWork.
By 2003 24-7YW was well established in all three schools. An exciting development was a joint venture between SYC, Hornby High School, and Hornby Presbyterian Church. This represented the first attempt of a local setting to reproduce the 24-7YW programme and philosophy outside of SYC’s own part of the city and church.
24-7 YouthWork had its first group of visitors from outside of Canterbury in 2004. From then, many more groups visited to catch the vibe of what was going on to take the inspiration back to their local youth communities in order to replicate what had been happening in Christchurch. Whangaparaoa College was the first school outside of Canterbury to begin 24-7YW and the first national training event was held in Hanmer Springs with youth workers from seven schools.
The logo and website were created in 2007. The logo is based on the ecological model of youth development that sees young people at the centre of their four worlds – family/Whanau, school/training/work, peers, and community. The website was created to provide information and a Away to connect those interested in 24-7 YouthWork. This was in response to the growing inquiries about how to get involved.
In December, 2008 SYC Trust was given three years of funding by the Christchurch City Council for the Capacity Building Project (CBP). CBP achievements included: the development of team leaders training, the writing of the youth workers’ manual, the management’ manual, the establishment of the 24-7 YouthWork Trust, the further development of the website and the introduction of the dairy system.
Duane Major stepped down as coordinator of 24-7YW in 2010, leaving huge shoes to fill. Luke Hill and Jay Geldard stepped up to the challenge as Co-National Coordinators. Together they led 24-7YW as it grew throughout the North and South Islands. By the end of 2010 there were 38 schools connected to the 24-7YW network with 95 youth workers from their local churches.
2012 was a year of consolidation as the catch-phrase ‘better not bigger’ seemed to resonate with Network members.
In 2012 the new website was launched, the Resource Library began, E-news kicked off and Jay Geldard took over as the sole National Network Coordinator.
As of January 2017, throughout New Zealand, we now have 175 Youth Workers in 72 schools, supported by many churches and agencies from a variety of denominations. Serious effort is being invested in order to help any local setting that is self motivated to establish 24-7YW in their own schools and communities. 24-7YW is now sustained and grown by a genuine family network that collaborates across the varied local settings – it has no centre just common values, strong relationships and a clear dream to help all young people by working together.
24-7YW is a successful and unique youth work initiative. By connecting work in local schools with services in the community, 24-7 YouthWork addresses a broad range of needs for mainstream youth. Its proven viability offers exciting possibilities locally and nationally.
Our youth workers are big-hearted people who make big commitments. We expect our youth workers to live a lifestyle of leadership for young people to follow, not just to do a job. We ask for a three to five year commitment from each youth worker.
We look for people with impeccable character, proven ability with young people and volunteer involvement. Youth workers work 10 paid hours per week in school and belong to a church youth community.
The activities of different workers may vary greatly. Different sports, cultural groups and activities have different schedules. Events like school balls, productions, training days and individual youth guidance can take up a lot of time. But overall a youth worker’s time should average 10 hours per week over the school term.
Whilst all 24-7 YouthWorkers are volunteer youth leaders, the background of each 24-7 YouthWorker is different. Some have a high level of training, such as being qualified in Youth Work, Counselling, Teaching, Outdoor Education etc, while others are fresh out of school themselves.
All 24-7 Youth-Workers have the backing of a reputable network which will help them keep to 24-7 YouthWork standards and will ensure training needs are met. This includes a thorough orientation, then compulsory Level 3 Youth Work National Certificate for them to complete on-the-job over their first year, this training includes: Risk Management, Treaty of Waitangi, Code of Ethics and the like. Other ‘highly recommended’ training is available to 24-7 YouthWorkers through the network and through their local Youth Leadership Team.
Behind the front-line Youth Workers there needs to be behind-the-scenes back-up. 24-7 YouthWork requires a number of key
The school and the church delivering the service (along with the liaising charitable trust and 24-7 YouthWork Network) sign a 24-7 YouthWork agreement which defines the mutual expectations.
It includes things such as:
The church is the service provider and the with the charitable trust is employer of the youth workers. It is responsible for:
In areas where there are a number of churches delivering 24-7 YouthWork we organise regional hubs. In regional hubs:
24-7 YouthWork is a not a structured institution but a relational network of churches seeking to serve their community. The national network focuses on:
The commitment and passion 24-7 YouthWorkers bring is not something that can be measured in dollars and cents, but at the same time 24-7 YouthWorkers need to be sustained in some way to achieve long term commitment.
Financial arrangements can vary somewhat depending on regional situations. We recommend a 25:25:50 funding formula between the church, the school and the community. For example to put two 24-7 YouthWorkers into a school might cost about $37,000 per year. So for a two 24-7 YouthWorker scenario the church would pay $9,250, the school $9,250 and the remaining $18,500 (+GST) is raised from the broader community such as local government, philanthropic groups, private donors, and businesses.
24-7YW Network support and development is a part of this cost and the money is used to: develop best practice, support and resource local settings, ‘pay-it-forward’ to establish new settings, research and development, enabling better networking through web based systems and the running of national training. This equates to up to 8% of the set 24-7 YouthWork budget.
This shared financial responsibility leads to strong buy-in from the key stakeholders and is part of what makes the model work. The charitable trust that employs the 24-7 YouthWorkers on behalf of the church primarily manages the responsibility of raising the extra 50% funding. This funding comes from a variety of different sources – applications to philanthropic trusts, individual donors and fund-raising ventures, etc. The overall responsibility for generating and managing this funding lies with the charitable trust facilitating the 24-7 YouthWork relationship. However a school and community might be involved in helping raise funds together.
Achieving the recommended funding formula in the beginning can take time and is sometimes a challenge that is met at the start by voluntarism, good will and community spirit.