18 May 2012 — 1 Comment

Tomorrow morning I’m heading up to the Youthwork Summit, and really looking forward to it! I’ve been following the various tweets today from the early day with Marko and it seems he’s been talking about the importance of belonging for young people.

To sum it up, Neil Fox posted the following from the day:

He [Marko] suggested that teenagers have three developmental priorities Identity, Autonomy and Affinity… there has now been a shift towards Affinity [understanding where do I belong] being a priority with the other elements being set in the context of to what do I belong… Where now we should be focusing on helping them to see where they belong.

It’s a summary of some of the stuff he’s written about in Youth Ministry 3.0, but I still find this pretty significant as it echoes some of our experiences here in Littlehampton. 18 months ago when the church leadership changed, we adopted the new strap line: “Belong. Believe.” as it summed up the storiees of many people who were joining the church.

Recently, we’ve redefined the purpose of our children’s and youth work to align it more with the church’s vision and to better reflect our best hope for the young people we work with:

ACCelerate shares a passion to help children and young people feel valued and respected. We aim to meet their spiritual, social & personal needs, empowering them to realise their full potential and find a place where they belong. With that mission, we run a variety of activities for children and young people which we define in three categories; Faith, Community, and School.

While there is a great deal of academic research happening around the concept of belonging, we’re finding it an increasingly important aspect of how and why young people connect with our work.

What are your experiences of belonging and young people? Do you seek to create or engender belonging in your work or do you have different focus?


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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