A staff member or team in your organisation should have responsibility for promoting interculturalism in your youth work. This would include planning, making sure you have a code of practice, establishing new contacts, identifying training opportunities, resources and so on. This competency can be part of a staff member’s main tasks and not necessarily a paid separate role, in the same way that responsibility for Health and Safety, First Aid or Child Protection is assigned. The role may also be combined with the role of Equality Officer or person responsible for other diversity issues in your organisation. The person with responsibility for interculturalism should undergo specific training on intercultural youth work.
Interculturalism is often a grass-roots initiative in many organisations that comes about as a result of working with minority ethnic young people directly. However leadership from management is very important. In the case of Foróige’s Tyrellstown Youth Initiative, while the project worker had responsibility for interculturalism in her youth group, both her line manager in Blanchardstown Youth Service and a colleague in Headquarters strongly support interculturalism throughout Foróige.
“Having an intercultural policy or strategy makes it easier for a staff member to take on the responsibility for interculturalism in your work, because interculturalism has already become part of the stated aims of the organisation”. (NYCI Intercultural Officer)
For many youth organisations, interculturalism is one aspect of diversity in youth work. Many youth projects, clubs and services will also have programmes which support LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) young people; young women or men specifically; or young people with specific religious beliefs. For Youth Work Ireland Galway, the SPARK project is simply one of the many projects dealing with diversity in youth work throughout the organisation.
It is not necessary to have an Intercultural Project Officer. Many organisations choose to combine the responsibilities for interculturalism with other roles such as Equality Officer or Outreach Worker. In the case of Localise, all staff has responsibility for an intercultural approach but the Development Officer is the main point of outreach and so meets minority ethnic communities more often than other staff.
Management should try to support any staff member(s) who wish to take on the role of person/team with responsibility for interculturalism in your organisation. It is often very effective to allow two staff members to work together on this. Staff and volunteers in this role should be supported to participate in additional training on intercultural youth work.
“While one person coordinates issues connected with equality in Youth Work Ireland Galway, all staff are expected to promote and embed diversity in their youth work. The SPARK project simply leads in working with young refugees”.
(SPARK Youth Worker)
If your organisation develops a policy or strategy, it is important to include a section on intercultural youth work and plan for this approach in the future. Galway Diocesan Youth Services (GDYS) have a youth strategy which is regularly reviewed and updated. It is planned that they will incorporate a section on interculturalism into the strategy in the near future.
- NYCI intercultural training, in particular:
- “Developing Intercultural Policies and Implementation Plans”
- “How to design and deliver a session on Intercultural Awareness”
- NYCI ‘Access All Areas’ Diversity Toolkit for the youth sector http://www.youth.ie/youth_work/resources_for_youth_workers/access_all_areas_diversity_toolkit
How would you rate?/How is your organisation doing?
- Castlebar Neighbourhood Youth Project ‘Talking Heads’ project , Foróigehttp://www.foroige.ie/index.cfm?fuseaction=Neighbourhood_Youth_Projects&content_id=22
- Localise, Multicultural School www.localise.ie
- No. 4 Drop-in centre, Galway Diocesan Youth Service (GDYS) http://www.gdys.org/index.php?page=tagaste-house
- Ógra Chorcaí, Bishopstown Youth Project; contactable through this forum: http://homepage.eircom.net/~clvyc/home.html
- Tyrrelstown Youth Initiative, Foróige http://www.foroige.ie/index.cfm?fuseaction=Local_Youth_Services&content_id=16
- VSI (Voluntary Service International), Dublin, Teenage Programme http://www.vsi.ie/volunteer/teenage.html
- Youth Work Ireland, Galway, SPARK (Support Project for Asylum Seeker and Refugee Kids) http://www.youthworkgalway.ie/projects.php?project=24
- YMCA Cork, Ninos Club http://www.ymcacork.org/index.htm
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