All of our work at Young Devon is based on building good quality relationships with young people.

What’s so important about building relationships? Well, we love this TED talk from Robert Waldinger at the Harvard Study of Adult Development. SPOLIER ALERT. After studying the same group of men for over 70 years the study only found one defining factor for happiness and longevity – the quality of the relationships the men had with those around them. It was simple, social connections are good for us – loneliness kills.

This makes complete sense to us at Young Devon, we’ve been a youth work charity for 70 years this year and that means that all of our staff essentially have one job – developing positive relationship with young people so that they can support them with whatever challenges they are facing.

We work in person-centred ways that recognise people as individuals with unique situations, challenges and skills, we then find ways to walk alongside them, build confidence, self-esteem and help them find and develop the tools they need to grow.

Many of the young people we meet in our everyday work have the odds stacked against them in life and we will do what we can to change that. Sometimes this means our staff teams are working with an immediate problem (someone who might be homeless or having a mental health crisis) and having to find ways to build trust and confidence very quickly and only have a short time to make a difference. At other times Young Devon staff might be supporting a young person for months or even years (helping them with getting ready for work or supporting their accommodation) and have time to build long-lasting relationships.

Whether it’s for a short period of time or for years we remain committed to the same ethos with which we started (as the Devon Youth Association in 1949) that believes in creating the time and space for young people to build the type of relationships that give them the chance to have happier, more connected lives.