Youth work – empowering the changemakers of tomorrow

Super Youth Worker
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Outreaching as a youth centre


Kazernestraat 7, 9160 Lokeren, Belgium

  • Inclusion
  • Non-formal education/-learning
  • Safe/secure youth work environment

A practice of processes and methods

Vagevuur worked out an outreaching therapy program for youngsters in Lokeren. The aim is to lower clear obstacles towards mental health care for young people. Because of a lack of space in mental health care but also the taboo on talking about your issues, access to mental health care seems to be unattainable for a lot of young people.

Therefore: Vagevuur hits the streets of Lokeren with a team of outreachers and therapists. They talk to youngsters, invite them to activities in the youth centre and to talk about deeper issues they are struggling with.

Besides working with youngsters, the youth worker also serves a signal function towards policy makers.

By hiring a first line psychologist as outreacher, Vagevuur seems to clear some obstacles at hand.

Next to talks about mental health, the psychologist also works with youngsters in free time leisure activities and fun and games. This builds recognition and trust, which leads to easier talks about other issues at hand.

A basic position of trust and equality between youth worker and youngster, lowers tresholds in working together on mental wellbeing. This method and way of working is carried out as fundamental in working with youngsters and spread in the broader network in which Vagevuur is represented.

It has been quite a long pathway to get to this point, with the therapist first joinging forces on a voluntary level, but soon being overrun by questions, hired with project funding as a temporary collegue. It is only by recognition of Vagevuur as an OverKop hous (i.e. a centre where youngsters can join in leisure time but also find a therapist) that Vagevuur was able to provide structural funding for this programme.

  • more talks about mental health
  • broader perspectives on working with youngsters
  • faster signaling of youth (work) issues
  • faster policy responses

Youth workers