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What is the Youth Service?

The Youth Service exists to support and encourage young people to mature and reach their potential as valued individuals and responsible citizens. It is educational in the sense that it provides a social education within the context of a broad spectrum of diverse activity.


The policy aim of the Youth Service is:

  • to ensure the provision of opportunities for children, young people and young adults to gain for themselves knowledge, skills and experience to reach their full potential as valued individuals
  • to encourage the development of mutual understanding and promote recognition of, and respect for, cultural diversity

Make up

The Youth Service is composed of a statutory and a voluntary sector:

  • the statutory sector under the control of the Education and Library Boards (ELBs) consists of some 126 youth units, employing 677 paid workers and benefiting from the input of some 473 volunteers
  • the voluntary sector is made up of a great variety of organisations - including uniformed and non-uniformed units, church-related and secular units. There are 1,803 voluntary youth units which have 1,118 paid workers and a further 21,170 volunteers

Participation by young people in the Youth Service is voluntary. It provides activities which are firmly rooted in a social education ethos, are generally out-of-school or work time and are non-formal.

Currently there are over 157,000 young people registered and taking part in Youth Service activities.

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