Youth work is where the magic happens

Mick Conroy, youth and community

Lecturer Mick Conroy is a youth worker with more than 20 years’ experience who has been involved in the education and training of youth workers on a national and international level. In 2001, Mick was nominated by the young people he worked with to receive the UK National Childline Award, which he went on to win in a competition with 3,000 nominees!

In 2006 he was appointed as a member of the Training Task Force of the European Youth Information & Counseling Association (ERYICA) which brings together national youth agencies from 34 member countries. He said: "It is my belief that through the professional training and education of those working with young people we can provide a workforce that will help young people to flourish and achieve their full potential as active members of their own communities."

Describe what you do
I try to help young people to access informal learning opportunities that will help them to raise their aspirations, fulfill their potential and achieve their ambitions in life.

What do you enjoy about it?
I enjoy the spontaneous nature of working with young people’s creative ideas, and that no two days are ever the same! Youth work can be a rollercoaster ride that involves working on the very margins of the professional boundary, but it is in this space where the magic happens, once you gain young people’s trust.

Best book for people considering youth work
The Art of Youth Work by Kerry Young.

Who is your hero?
Paulo Freire, the Brazilian community worker who transformed education in the Favela slums of Brazil and claimed that: “What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.” His book Pedagogy of the Oppressed should be read by every youth worker.

Advice to people considering youth work as a career
Get professionally qualified, of course! But most importantly of all, follow the personal values that draw you to the work and act upon them. You must see yourself as a servant to the young people that you work with and all sense of any aggrandisement for yourself should be sidelined.