Introducing India to Youth Cafes!

Updated: May 17


We have been working on theoretical and conceptual base for the youth café model in India for over 5 years now. We define youth café as a service that could offer support for young people in a non-stigmatising way; be based on well-established youth work principles; provide a forum for young people to develop their social networks; play an important role in offering a secure base for young people; and enable them to bolster their resilience and connect them to their communities.

Six core theories that could be conceptualised as underpinning the youth cafe model are mentioned below:-

Social Support:

Social support is defined as ‘a range of interpersonal exchanges that include not only the provision of physical assistance, emotional caring, and information, but also the subjective consequence of making individuals feel that they are the object of enduring concerns by others’. Research on social support shows that recipients have better mental health, fewer physical health problems and lower rates of mortality, while increased social support positively affects people’s ability to cope with stressful events that happen in life, both directly and indirectly.

Attachment Theory:

An attachment can be conceptualised as a type of social bond or affective tie that develops between an individual and another person during the life course. Since the 1980s, researchers have placed greater emphasis on the significance of maintaining stable social attachments during adolescence And how relationships with stable adults can positively impact on youth development. It can be argued that youth cafés have the potential to play an important role in offering a secure base from which young people can grow and develop through the development of secure Attachments with their peers and adults alike.

Civic Engagement and Participation Theory:

The civic engagement and participation of young people has been a focus of policy and academic attention over recent decades. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasises the Participation rights of children and subsequent policy and legislation especially in ageing countries.

The youth café model is based on the principle of youth participation and ownership, emphasising the importance of young people playing an active role in the management and operations of the café. Thus, the youth café model has the potential to contribute to the democratic inclusion of young people, facilitate personal and skills development, and enable young people to contribute to and shape the lives of their communities

Resilience Theory:

Resilience is defined as ‘good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development’. It could be argued that youth cafés have the potential to act as a ‘protective factor’ for young people exposed to adversity – for example, by providing a safe and relaxing environment that allows them To get relief from or avoid risky or stressful situations in their home or community environments.

Social Capital Theory:

Social capital has been defined as the ability of people ‘to secure benefits by virtue of membership in social networks or other social structures’ Having a sense of belonging to a place such as a community has been shown to help children form their identity. Furthermore, when young people feel this sense of attachment and feeling of belonging, they are more likely to make friends and interact with peers, and vice versa. It can be argued that youth cafés have the potential to help young people to feel a sense of place and to develop trusting relationships with others in their communities – all of which helps to enhance their social capital.

Positive Youth Development Theory

PYD theories can be characterised as strengths based approaches to youth development since they advocate that young people have the power to change the world around them. According to Lerner et al (2009), the approach consists of the five Cs – Confidence, Character, Connection, Competence, Caring – defined as follows: • Confidence has been defined as self-efficacy or self-worth and positive feelings about oneself and one’s ability to succeed. • Character denotes a sense of individuality and commitment to one’s values. • Connection is a sense of safety, feelings of belonging and community. • Competence is the ability to act effectively in schools and at home. • Caring refers to feelings of empathy or sympathy for the plight of others.

It can be argued that youth cafés – by offering formal and informal activities through which young people can connect with others, develop skills, further their personal development and confidence, and take on leadership roles – have the potential to foster the six Cs in the lives of the young people with whom they work.


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