How to start a youth group in your local area
If there are no youth groups in your area you may be able to start your own
If there are no youth groups in your area you might want to consider starting your own. Although this will be a lot of work, if you are dedicated to starting the group it can be a rewarding experience for both you and other young people in your community. The most straightforward route to set up a youth group is to work with an already established youth organisation or youth worker who will have previous experience. You can set up a youth group completely on your own but this will take a lot more work and organisation.
Questions to ask yourself before starting a youth group
If you are thinking of starting a youth group there are some questions you should ask yourself first:
- What type of group do I want to set up?
- Are there young people in my area who will be interested in joining the group?
- Are there adults in my area who will be willing to volunteer in the group?
- Is there a suitable premises where the group could meet in my local area?
- Would there be people in my local community willing to support the group such as Gardaí, teachers or parents?
- Will the group be able to raise enough money to cover things like insurance, equipment, expenses?
- Are there local youth services near you that could give support, guidance and training?
Starting up a youth group with Foróige/Youth Work Ireland
If you are aged between 12 and 18 and are looking to start a youth group in your local area, you can get in touch with Foróige to discuss what your options are. You can contact your local Foroige Regional Youth Officer and speak to them about how to start a Foroige club in your community, or you can complete this online form. For contact details of your Regional Youth Officer, click here.
Youth Work Ireland are also present nationwide and can help you set up a local youth group. They have regional offices across the country which can support you, and are key people to contact in the early stages of setting up your group. At the moment, Youth Work Ireland have 240 youth clubs.
Setting up a youth group at your school
If you are looking to start a club or youth group, a good place to start is at your school. Speak to your guidance counsellor about your ideas and what you are hoping to achieve. It is important that you have the idea for the group clearly planned so will be able to show your counsellor why there is a need for this group in your school. You may also need money to be able to get your group up and running, so also come with ideas about how you could fundraise money for the group. The more planned out you have the idea and the more determined you are to put it into action will stand to you.
Setting up your own youth group in your community
Setting up your own independent group is a lengthy process, but can be very rewarding. If you are determined to set up your own group, there are several steps you need to follow. You should start by asking yourself a couple of questions - for example, are there enough potential members? Are there enough volunteers to help run the group or are there any other clubs of this kind in the surrounding areas?
Once you want to go ahead with your plans, there are a few things that need to be decided:
You need to decide on a legal structure for the club. The simplest type is an unassociated corporation. You do not need to register an unincorporated association and it costs nothing to set one up. This does mean that all costs (for renting a premises etc.) and contracts are your responsibility.
If your club is a non-profit organisation, you do not need to worry about taxes. However, insurance is mandatory to have, which is easier and cheaper to get when you are affiliated with places like Youth Work Ireland.
You need to think of a name for your club in case any formal documents are needed. Make sure no other club has the same name.
The club constitution is a written document which states the rules and structures which the club will follow. It outlines what the club will do, and rules for membership, meetings and committees. It will be needed if you are applying anywhere for funding.
A club needs three official members (minimum) to run the club. You must have:
These are elected jobs and they make up the committee of the club. You can also have other members of the committee laid out in your constitution, for example, a Fundraising Officer is common to have in a non-profit organisation. The rest of the club members may be made up of volunteers to help with different jobs.
AGM (Annual General Meeting)
An AGM is held every year to vote on who will be on the committee. All members get a say in how the club is run at this meeting.
The club committee are fully responsible for how the club is managed on a daily basis. If you want a club to run smoothly, it is a good idea to have a committee formed early and have roles clearly laid out for the different members of the committee. By doing so, everyone knows their jobs and the workload is spread evenly.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), when you begin taking personal details off people for memberships or for Garda Vetting, you need to make sure you are storing member’s information safely and securely. GDPR explains that you must have a person’s permission and store their information safely with their full knowledge of the process for storage, and what their information will be used for. Members are under no obligation to give you any information which they do not feel comfortable giving you.
Child protection regulation and Garda vetting
If you are going to be working with children or young people, you must go through, and be cleared through Garda vetting. Garda vetting is a service provided by the Gardaí to show that you have no previous criminal offences, and once you are cleared, you are free to work with any children and young people. Garda vetting needs to be obtained by anyone working with children and young people, including volunteers.
Child Protection Policies such as the Children’s First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children are dedicated to protecting children from harm and abuse. It is a guideline on what organisations should do if they suspect a child is being neglected or abused, and the authorities which this should be reported to. It also lays out protocols for these authorities to follow. When working with children, it is highly advised
Click here to learn more about the different youth groups you can join around Ireland.