The Bishop of Connor, President of the Church of Ireland Youth Department (CIYD), has launched the first ever all-Ireland audit of Youth Work in the denomination.
The findings of the survey, commissioned by CIYD, were unveiled at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, on Wednesday June 10. The launch was attended by youth workers from a number of dioceses.
The publication, An Audit Report of Youth Work in the Church of Ireland, reveals a number of striking findings relating to engagement of young people aged between 11 and 25 with the Church.
Significantly, the survey finds:
• That there are approximately 26,000 young people aged between 11 and 25-years-old active in the Church of Ireland’s youth work per week;
• That this work is supported by over 3,000 adult volunteers; and
• That the work encompasses a range of youth initiatives, from work with immigrant young people to the organisation of youth clubs, and from running Silver Bands to undertaking faith development programmes.
David Gardiner of DSG Consultancy, which conducted the survey, said: “By commissioning this, the most extensive survey of Youth Work ever undertaken in the Church of Ireland, CIYD is demonstrating its commitment to the strategic support of youth workers and youth work across the entire Church, and to accurate reporting to stakeholders.
“With at least 3,300 volunteers providing parish-based youth work for up to 26,000 young people every week, the Church is making a substantial contribution to Irish society. With a further 17,500 young people engaged annually at a diocesan level, the impact and reach of Church of Ireland youth work is nothing less than impressive.”
Launching the report the Bishop, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, described the figure of 26,000 young people engaged in youth activities in the Church of Ireland on a weekly basis as ‘a staggering statistic.’
He stated: “On behalf of the whole Church of Ireland, CIYD has managed to accomplish the first ever all Ireland survey of the denomination’s work with young people aged 11 to 25 years of age.
“I am very grateful to Mr David Gardiner for his diligence, patience and support in drafting this work. Its value in no large measure is due to his hard work and the generous co-operation of many youth workers, diocesan youth officers and parish clergy across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”
But he said the church could not be complacent. “There are things in here we need to take on board,” he said.
The Bishop went on: “This work needs to remain focused on the needs of young people and their well being through strategic partnerships, through a deepening of accountability measures, and especially through the ongoing development of adult youth work volunteers and professionals alike.”
Mr David Gardiner, author of the report, told the launch: “Some of this report will challenge you, but my overall hope is that it will become something you engage with, CIYD engages with and the Church of Ireland engages with and something which will propel your work in a positive way in the future.”
He added: “The Church of Ireland should be proud of the youth work that is being done and cherish and support it.”
The report will also be launched at Church House, Dublin on June 19 by Barry Andrews, TD, Minister of State for Children and Youth Affairs and the Most Rev Alan Harper, OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.