Our Approach


We use non-formal learning approaches to complement (or in some cases replace) formal academic learning to provide a truly rounded education to young people.

All of our activity is based around the four key enablers of the Social Development Journey. Some programmes will run across all four enablers as below, others may only be relevant to one or two.

The Social Development Journey is based on a foundation of positive relationships, voluntary participation, equality, opportunity and empowerment.

Social Engagement - Encouraging young people to take part

Engaging young people through the provision of a safe space, fun activities and informal learning, with a positive peer group and building ties with the community.

Social Learning - Developing life skills in a fun way

Delivering informal and structured non-formal learning opportunities that young people can opt into, to manage personal circumstances and develop skills for life.

Social Action - Using life skills to support the community

Practising skills gained by learning through doing, supporting the community, youth voice and engaging in democracy, failing in a safe environment and acquiring practical experience

Social Leaderships - Applying life skills to access training, employment and other leadership roles

Finding a role in the community and becoming an empowered, positive and contributing member of society

Many young people will begin their Social Engagement in their local youth group at an early age and progress through these four stages as they get older, culminating in them finding a productive role for themselves as young adults.

Other young people may engage in one or two of these steps to address skills gaps or improve specific capabilities. We encourage young people to take either route, choosing the path that suits them best and enables them to transition successfully from childhood to adulthood.

Our hope is that this Social Development Journey framework will also provide the opportunity to:

  • Articulate the youth offer in a clear concise way in order to develop a shared collective vision for young people
  • Map organisation level delivery against the SDJ to inform strategic planning and development
  • Map local and regional services against the SDJ, to identify opportunities for collaboration, partnership and consolidation
  • Provide an accessible way to demonstrate and communicate value of the youth sector to external audiences, e.g. policy makers, funders and delivery partners


    Watch our work in action

    Our aim is for every young person to become a positive force for change in their own life, and the lives of others. Watch our video to see our work in action:

    Find out more about our national programmes

    Our projects and programmes are shown to have had a significant impact on young people with an average increase of over 20% in key capabilities including communication, problem solving and confidence.

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