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Prevent for Youth Work in Wales

An introduction to Prevent for Youth Work in Wales: Working together to safeguard our young people, practitioners and managers

Online Workshop (2): identifying and referring vulnerable individuals

In response to feedback from the youth work* sector, the Welsh Local Government (WLGA), in partnership with the Wales Extremism & Counter Terrorism Unit (WECTU), developed two webinars, titled An introduction to Prevent for Youth Work in Wales: Working together to safeguard our young people, practitioners and managers, and Online Workshop (2): identifying and referring vulnerable individuals. Workshop 2 included a reminder of workshop one and a deeper dive to look at identifying and referring vulnerable individuals. The joint trainers were Tim Opie (WLGA), Martyn Thomas (WECTU) and Barrie Phillips (retired Home Office Prevent Lead for Post 16 Education in Wales).

Workshop aim: To advance greater awareness of – and compliance with – the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security legislation, with specific reference to (i) context and (ii) identification of, and support for, vulnerable individuals at risk from being drawn into extremism, radicalisation and terrorism.

Workshop objectives: To provide youth service practitioners and managers with:

  • A light touch review of the context of the Prevent agenda and its key role in countering radicalisation – with specific reference to community and educational settings
  • A light touch review of current national and international threat, risk and harm profiles
  • Increased awareness of the constituents of vulnerability
  • Confidence to make a referral to Prevent, should the need be determined.

Delegates at both sessions were invited to complete evaluation forms which were designed beforehand by the speakers.

*To note: Youth work involves the education and development, both social and personal, of young people aged between 11 and 25 years and is delivered in a variety of settings including youth clubs, residential settings, in information, advice and counselling centres, on the streets and in various public locations where young people meet and through special issue-based projects etc.

Youth work is a distinct profession with its own qualifications framework and national occupational standards (NOS), with local authority provision dating from the 1930’s and has an important part to play in the provision of youth support services. Since April 2017, professional Youth Workers and Youth Support Workers working for local authorities, voluntary sector organisations, schools or Further Education Institutions are required to register with the Education Workforce Council (EWC).



Delegates returned a high level of satisfaction from both webinars, indicating that their needs were met at both webinars e.g. following workshop 2, 100% of responders reported they agreed or strongly agreed that they now have a greater awareness of the relationship between the UK Government’s Prevent agenda and safeguarding.

Comments included:

Great to hear the positive a youth work approach is having. I am a youth worker and already attend Channel Panels and I am being invited to more panels with the impact a youth work approach has.”

The speakers were varied and obviously very knowledgeable in their fields of expertise and in the execution of their jobs. Their contributions were therefore extremely useful and gave an insight into the process of an Prevent referral and how the individual is worked with in assessing and addressing the issues they present.  It was good to know that the scenarios that have been presented previously are actual cases that have been subject to referral and are people that have been worked with.”

“Thanks for a really good presentation – it was really refreshing to see professionals like yourself [Tim] showing such high regard for the youth service and how we make a valuable contribution to this agenda.”

Lessons Learned

Given that the sessions were delivered electronically (via MS Teams), whilst the breakout sessions in particular worked as well as they could, any future sessions may benefit from a face-to-face delivery to avoid technical issues and to enhance the quality of group discussion.

Comments from the evaluation indicated that youth work, whilst highly regarded as an intervention with young people, does not receive a similar level of recognition as other professions, such as social work and teaching, in particular in relation to the Prevent agenda.

Youth Work’s role in other related fields, such as Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has also been undervalued – despite not being taken seriously at the time, youth work was recognised in a number of reports as one of the few contributing sectors to emerge with any distinction regarding their roll. Similar feedback is emerging in the County Lines agenda, where youth workers are increasingly seen as having a crucial role in both identifying young people at risk of exploitation, preventing involvement in County Lines/gang culture and supporting them to exit its grip.

One important factor from the sessions was that the speakers from WECTU, the Police, the Psychologist specialising in radicalisation and the (recently retired) Home Office Prevent Advisor understood, recognised and celebrated the valuable role of youth work (an education intervention which engages with young people via a trusting relationship and on a voluntary basis), which had a positive impact.

As the model was so successful in raising awareness and knowledge of the Prevent agenda (with a focus on the safeguarding element), colleagues involved in its delivery are now working with the Work Based Learning sector to offer a similar opportunity for staff there.