A group of students from Edge Hill University have learnt exactly what it’s like to be a female youth justice worker in today’s society.

Students studying the BSc (Hons) Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behaviour assisted in co-ordinating a forum to gather feedback from female professionals working with children and young people in the Youth Justice System (YJS). They discussed the challenges they face due to their gender, and how this impacted them in their careers.

Third year students Kelly Harding and Emma Day facilitated insightful discussions, collected responses and produced a report on their findings, which is currently being considered by the Youth Justice Service Management Board.

“It was a great learning experience and I particularly enjoyed discussing the topic of what it is like to be a woman in the world today,” said Kelly. “The dynamics of gender specific job roles and expectations is changing for both men and women and it’s extremely interesting to gather other opinions on this and if they feel their gender hinders any career opportunities or needs they may have within their job role.”

Emma added:

“It was interesting to engage with the staff and to further understand their views regarding being a woman working in the Youth Justice Service. It also gave us the added benefit of experiencing the practical aspects of conducting primary research with a focus group and the process of writing up our findings. We hope that the work we have done and continue to do with the YJS stands to assist in enhancing the service for the staff and users of the service.”

Gareth Jones, Head of Service Youth Justice services – Cheshire East, West, Halton and Warrington, said:

“In addition to engaging young people in how we deliver improved services it is also vital we use the experiences and knowledge of our organisational prime asset- our staff. Whilst women may make up the majority of our staff force it is seldom acknowledged that the voice of women can be seen by many as a minority view. We do not see it like that and the assistance of independent facilitators such as Kelly and Emma is important in garnering valuable feedback to improve our services. The fact that it assists students in their studies gives us a win-win-win situation and I thank Kelly and Emma for their endeavours.”


“These types of forums for staff and children are really important in order to help maintain positive mental health and wellbeing,” added Sean Creaney, Lecturer in the Department of Applied Health and Social Care. “This organisation is setting an example to others that it is vital to gather feedback from professionals and young people on their experiences. We are particularly grateful to Chris Dunn, interim manager, for appointing Kelly and Emma as independent facilitators, and for providing pastoral support. Our students have demonstrated excellent interpersonal communication skills.”

This exciting opportunity for students was made possible through Edge Hill University and Cheshire Youth Justice Services ground-breaking knowledge transfer partnership. The partnership was recently featured in the August edition of the Children and Young People Now magazine as an example of how Youth Offending Teams and Universities are working in alliance.