This is a reference for Fergal Barr

‘YouthFest: The arts as a means of engaging marginalised young people’

The training activity took place
in Derry~Londonderry, N Ireland
organised by Inside Out
16-23 May 2011

Aims & objectives


To bring together practitioners from all over Europe in a common celebration of youth work practice and in doing so acknowledge, recognise and enhance specific ‘skill sets’ that not only promotes greater awareness of and respect for youth work among local publics but provides space for youth workers to engage in productive shared learning experiences that develops and enhances practice with marginalised young people in constructive but testing environments.


YouthFest will:

• facilitate a series of inter-related activities and events that raise the profile of and promotes greater understanding of the youth work profession, practice, culture and communities
• create a shared space for youth work practitioners from a range of countries to experience, learn from and critique a diverse range of innovative methodologies
• provide space for participants to develop, arrange and implement a programme of activities for local young people in a variety of settings in order to develop skills and demonstrate best practice
• engage local youth work communities in supporting, contributing to, participating in and reflecting upon programme activities so as to support the learning of programme participants
• engage marginalised young people through a variety of recognised mediums that promotes inclusion, participation, fun and a greater understanding and respect for diversity
• provide mechanisms to reflect upon the entire process and in doing so document learning so as enhance the practice of participants
• provide the space for participants to develop initiatives that will engage young people in their respective settings or in joint-settings (with other participants) but which promote skill-sets among young people

Target group & international/intercultural composition of the group & team

Participants were drawn from Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Iceland, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Spain, Turkey, Greece and Malta.

Training Team was drawn from N Ireland, Iceland and Netherlands.

Training methods used & main activities

The themes for YouthFest were Music & Dance, Drama & Theatre, Sports and Outdoor Education, The Arts and Play.

Methods included games, workshops, presentations, simulations and inputs.

Outcomes of the activity

Following an evaluation we achieved an overall score of 74.7%.

There are a number of key achievements that YouthFest managed but in a ‘nutshell’ we brought together a group of strangers and asked them in a few days to think about, develop and then deliver a series of 3 hour workshops to another group of strangers and in doing so ensure it happens without any glitches.

First of all we had to establish the interests of individuals prior to their attending and then connect them during the training in a way that would demand from them compromise, patience and tolerance, humour, good nature and spirit of generosity and finally agree ideas, structures, roles, responsibilities – no easy task given the extent,variety and nature of all nationalities and idenfities on show.

The second major achievement was the delivery of the workshops – besides the disruption caused by the bomb which ‘wiped out’ almost all of our entire afternoon programme, we were able to deliver a series of 3-hour workshops as planned across diverse themes (in the morning time) to small groups of young people (in the morning time) without incident.

Third - we managed to ensure the dynamic of the group as in facilitating such a diverse bunch of people, almost all of whom hadn’t had little or no contact previously and bring them on a journey which included trying out workshops with each other, taster workshops with groups of young people (through local youth clubs) and finally, groups of young people drawn from the public, all without major incident.

Fourthly - the methodology we applied. The programme was underpinned by an experiential learning approach where participants would have the opportunity to ‘live’ the experience as it developed and learn from this. This is laden with risk because participants can choose to ‘make it their own’ but in a way that contravenes the very essence of what we are trying to do but in this case particiapnts embraced the programme and it’s ideals and worked towards achieving this.

A fifth achievement was the strong bond that developed between the participants on the programme. The level of interaction, warmth and humour between participants was tangible and beyond the ‘normal working day’participants took full advantage of the opportunity to mix and socialise. This has manifested itself in planned follow-up activities and continued contact.

A final achievement was the ‘YouthFest’ concept itself. To take the idea of a youth work festival which introduces local young people to the practice and ideas of overseas youth workers or youth work practitioners and to channel it through a training programme is quite ambitious and only for the disruption of the bomb would have been a major success. Given the nature of the programme, the young people involved and the feedback of some of the parents (below) then it’s fair to say we have achieved quite a lot.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

My role was to co-ordinate the delivery of the programme and this included administration, preparation & planning, logistics, facilitation, evaluation and report writing. I was one of a four person training team delivering the programme during the course of its 3 day duration.

I worked on this training for 7 days as a full time trainer.

back to top