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It is widely recognised in Ireland and internationally that the engagement of young people in the youth work process brings with it a range of positive benefits and outcomes, both for the young people involved and society in general. However, it has also been found that young people aged 15-19 participate less in youth services and therefore do not gain the associated benefits. This dissertation explores the perspectives of young people aged 15-19 who are engaged in youth services in Dublin City, in relation to their decisions to become and remain involved in youth services. The aim of this research was to point to ways of attracting and sustaining the engagement of more young people within this age group. A case study design was employed, using multiple data collection strategies in two youth work sites in Dublin City. The findings suggest that in order to attract and maintain the engagement of young people aged 15-19, youth services, together with young people, must endeavour to actively co-produce a youth public sphere. Relationships, both existing and those arising from the youth work process, have an important influence on young people‟s decisions to become and remain involved in youth services, as do the activities and programmes offered by youth services. It emerged from the research that, in comparison to other forms of engagement youth services offer young people a place to go where they can be with friends, get involved in activities of interest to them, form relationships with youth workers and have an input into decisions that affect them. The study concludes by recommending a number of areas in need of further research within the Irish context, particularly the youth work relationship, the co-production of a youth public sphere and the youth cafe model. It is also recommends that research relating to youth work must consider the views of those at the centre of the process – the young people.
Martin, Kerri: Opting In and Staying In: Older Teenagers’ Decisions on Becoming and Remaining Involved in Youth Services in Dublin City. Masters Dissertation, Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology, 2010.