Planning for young peoples' needs

There are many things to consider prior to starting a youth group or project. For example deciding: whether there is a need for a youth group; what type of group it will be and its purpose in the area; how to obtain helpers; and the important practicalities of getting started such as child protection and obtaining the appropriate insurance.

Youth groups and projects come in all shapes and sizes, and in planning your youth group you will need to respond to local needs and adapt what you do according to the young people involved, the money available, and the people around to help out.

A good place to start is to establish if there is a need for a new youth group or project in the area. Researching your community will show if the need exists. It is important to include young people in the local research so that they are fully involved in the planning and development of their youth group. They will also feel valued and part of the community if you involve them in 'finding out' about the area in which they live. It is also true that other members of the community may be more supportive if they see young people taking an active constructive role in developing their own youth group.

Carry out a local community survey

A survey may be a useful tool, targeting young people, parents, key members of the community such as councillors, local police, schools, church leaders, and shop keepers. It is also a good idea to make contact with the local Community Learning and Development Services in your local authority to find out what is going on and what help is available.

A community survey will help to show you the following: 

  • What provision already exists?
  • What are the interests and needs of the young people?
  • What premises might be available?
  • Do the young people want a youth group?
  • What community support is available such as resources and training?

Summary: For you to do

  • Involve young people in the planning of the youth group from the start
  • Talk to potential volunteers, parents, the school and Community Learning and Development Services
  • Set up a small committee, of both adults and young people, to help you develop the new youth group
  • Carry out a community survey
  • Visit existing youth groups in neighbouring areas