Meet The Team


Pauline Grace

Director of International Projects

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Pauline is senior lecturer and MA Programme Leader of Youth and Community Work at Newman University and has over 30 years of face-to-face youth work experience. She facilitated in 2010 at the first European Youth Work  Convention, which resulted in the first European Declaration on Youth Work. In 2015 she was invited as an expert to give input to the second European Convention. Pauline is a founder and Vice-President of Professional Open Youth Work in Europe (POYWE), which is a pan-European group representing youth work at a European level. She sits on the UK’s In Defence of Youth Work (IDYW) national steering group. Pauline is the Chief Editor of the International Journal of Open Youth Work

John Grace

Director of Development

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John has been involved in youth and community work for 47 years; for more than thirty years he worked in a local authority (Birmingham). Having started in the local voluntary sector during the 1970's, he has recently become Director of Youth Work Europe. He is a Visiting Lecturer on university courses related to young people and youth policy; and he has extensive experience of designing and delivering a broad range of training programmes. He is the manager of the detached youth work team and is a qualified youth worker. He is a member of the In Defence of Youth Work campaign.

Maria Hughes

Director of Finance

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Maria Hughes is a community development worker with decades of experience in the voluntary sector. She works at Birmingham LGBT as the Network Enabler for the Ageing Better in Birmingham LGBT Hub, sits on the Stonewall Housing Older LGBT People’s group in Birmingham, is a trustee of Human Cities Institute and acts as treasurer for Birmingham Clarion Singers. She has previously worked at Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid, Birmingham Settlement and West Midlands Environment Network. She also runs her own monitoring and evaluation business and has delivered training to a wide range of audiences. She is a director and treasurer of the Youth Work Europe.

James Friel

Director & Secretary 

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James has worked in the voluntary sector for the past 25 years. He works as Well-Being Adviser with Citizens Advice Bureau in Birmingham. Prior to this he worked for over 20 years in the environmental sector with West Midlands Environment Network (WMEN) as Regional Co-ordinator and more recently with Black Environment Network as its Chief Executive Officer (BEN) delivering training; developing and delivering projects and providing tailored advice and support to community groups and voluntary & public sector organisations wishing ot engage more effectively. He is a director of Youth Work Europe

Rosie Richter


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Rosie is studying an MA in Youth and Community Work at Newman University and has over 11 years of youth work experience in a variety of settings


 Throughout my time with Youth Work Europe I have had so many incredible opportunities, including: being involved in writing Erasmus+ funding bids, attending a conference in Lithuania to launch the International Journal of Open Youth Work, and being the group leader for a youth exchange in Barcelona. I am passionate about the importance of sharing good youth work practice and networking across Europe and beyond, and I'm looking forward to future opportunities within the organisation.

Simbi Folarin


Passionate about creating transformational learning opportunities – with an emerging focus on environmental  issues.  My background is in the field of Youth, Community & Play work specialising in race equality, disability and gender.  My work in Higher Education  includes development and delivery of the Playwork BA at UCB; Youth and Community BA’s University of Birmingham and Newman University ; currently working with Coventry University. Graduated from University of Worcester (Transformational Practice MA) 2014.

Director of Dens of Equality a Birmingham based company working to with the challenges of inclusion, creating sustainable play and leisure opportunities for disabled children and young people.  

John Holmes

Director  and Chairperson

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Researcher and sociologist involved in youth work for nearly 40 years. Lectured in Youth Work, Community Work, and Play Work in Wales and West Midlands through universities and national youth work agencies. I headed up university level courses linked to Birmingham University and Newman University. I am particularly interested in the role of faith in youth work, especially Islam. I also am exploring the changing agendas in youth work, particularly around employability. Currently chairperson of Youth Work Europe and trustee of local charity.

Bhanu Dhir


Born in Corbridge, Northumberland, Bhanu was educated at the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle. His career includes the Inland Revenue; the American IT services giant EDS, start-up consultancies Black Radley and Wilson Given, City of Wolverhampton College the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. Most recently he has taken strategic roles in the manufacturing and finance sectors. His non-executive activities include President of Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce, Chair of Wolverhampton Strategic partnership, Regional and Local political roles and a role in school transformation. Married with 3 children he enjoys reading, writing and cooking. He has a degree in Psychology and an MBA.

Youth Workers


Sam Watts

Senior Detached Youth Worker 

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My name is Sam, I have recently joined Youth Work Europe as a detached youth worker. Working on the streets of Bartley Green.
I have been a youth worker for over 15 years working in a variety of settings. I started as a street-based youth worker in Edinburgh, I then moved to Birmingham working for detached youth work projects, neighbourhood renewal projects and more recently working with young offenders.

I love my job and have been very privileged to work with so many incredible young people over the years

Taylor Hitchcock

Detached Youth Worker

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I’m Taylor, I am currently a detached youth worker for Youth Work Europe. I am very passionate about youth, community work and sport. I gained this passion through my personal life experiences, throughout my work and volunteering. I believe sport and creative arts are a great tool and catalyst for change within a persons life. I hope to implement this through my work with YWE. Being one of the youngest on the team, I am looking forward to sharing my fresh ideas and thoughts, so we can achieve cohesion together!


Matthew Smith


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I am currently studying MA in Youth and Community Work at Newman University while also working as a residential worker with young people. I have had a variety of experiences working with young people within the uniformed youth provisions, challenging behaviours, mental health, and working with young people identified as not in employment education or training. With Youth Work Europe, I have had opportunities to develop new skills through participating in international conferences in areas such as participation and academic co-writing.

Chelsea Moorhouse


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I am currently studying MA Youth & Community Work at Newman University and started volunteering at Youth Work Europe as part of my placement for the course. I also volunteer at an LGBT+ youth group called Out Central. With Youth Work Europe, I have had the opportunity to go to both Norway and Lithuania. I went to Lithuania as part of a training course on youth participation and went to Norway for a participation conference (of which I was a facilitator) and to launch the Participation Handbook that we helped to develop in Lithuania.

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