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Christian youth charity launches Centre for Research

by Ruth Jackson

Its launch in Luton on Monday saw youth workers from different backgrounds, denominations and UK locations gather to think about the importance of research.

Youthscape's CEO Chris Curtis spoke about the organisation's belief that the tried and tested forms of church youth work aren't really working any more. He stressed the importance of innovation, arguing that this innovation needs to be rooted in research and that the key to long-term effective work with young people lies in deep reflection on youth work practice and the contexts they are working in.

Head of Research Phoebe Thompson introduced some of the research that has already started to take place, including a youth work training survey which sampled over 400 youth workers from around the UK. She pointed out that youth culture is changing at an unprecedented rate and that Youthscape exists to do something about this problem.

Speaking to Premier, she said: "We are absolutely delighted to have launched the Youthscape Centre for Research, and to begin the first phase of our research work. This is a rare and unprecedented opportunity to take time out to reflect on what it's really like to be a teenager in 2016, and how we as Christian workers can engage deeply, meaningfully and relevantly with them - wherever they are at.

"The Church faces extraordinary challenges with regard to its engagement with young people and we feel that now more than ever we need to pause, reflect, innovate and pioneer new things if we are going to stand a chance of passing on our faith to this generation. We are excited to see where our research leads us and the many ways in which it might enrich and support the work of youth workers and churches at large."

Those gathered at the launch were told of the importance of research in light of the fact that we tend to rely on old paradigms because we haven't taken time to reflect on the current needs of young people.

Rather than answering questions that young people are not asking, the Youthscape Centre for Research will aim to find answers to the questions that are actually being asked, and devise ways forward for our work with young people.

The centre will also seek to bridge the gap between on-the-ground practitioners and academic institutions, rooting academic reflection in practice and drawing on the rich resources of academia for youth work practice.

One of the first research projects that Youthscape wants to undertake is to launch a UK-wide church youth work census to find out what the big picture really is.

For more information and to see how you can get involved with The Youthscape Centre for Research, visit

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