The target group of youth work is often said to be all young people – but what does this mean in practice? If youth work should live up to the core principle that it should be ”actively inclusive; reach out to and welcome all groups of young people”, we must specify what groups we are talking about.
The second step is therefore to decide on what you need to know about your target group, its characteristics and composition, in order to;
- Know that you reach the young people you want to reach, for example school drop-outs or an equal degree of girls and boys.
- Know how they experience youth work and if there are differences that are related to, for example, age or gender, e.g. if activities meet their interests to the same degree.
- Know to what degree you reach your aims regarding for example learning, and if this varies between different groups.
When you specify your target group it is also important to keep in mind that, for example, gender balance could be considered important on a municipal/total level, whilst at the same time different activities might be targeted exclusively at girls, boys or LGBT youth. Some youth centres will say that an equal gender balance is relevant for the sum of their activities (but not for each single activity), some will say it is not. Hence, you need to relate the target group to the context.
More or less all of the above characteristics might of course, depending on the context, also be a sign of marginalisation. Young LGBT people are for example often marginalised in relation to both youth work activities and society as a whole.
So, the basic question is: In relation to what groups, i.e. categories of young people, do you want to do your follow up?