Mayor needs to help restore London’s lost youth services

An interesting intervention from Sian Berry, the Green 2016 candidate for London Mayor on her blog – Lost Youth Services

She has produced a report , ‘London’s lost youth services’,  based on a freedom of information request to borough councils. It reveals that youth services, which are non-statutory and not protected from austerity cuts, have been cut back dramatically in the past five years.

Between 2011/12 and 2016/17:

  • Across London more than £22 million was cut from youth services budgets.
  • The average council in London has cut its youth service budget by nearly £1 million – an average of 36 per cent.
  • More than 30 youth centres have been closed.
  • At least 12,700 places for young people have been lost.
  • Council youth service employment has been reduced on average by 39 per cent – from 738 full-time equivalent staff across 20 councils to 452 in 2016/17.
  • Funding to voluntary sector youth work has also gone down – by an average of 35 per cent in councils that were able to provide data




Half of the ten councils that provided information about future budgets were planning to make further cuts in 2017/18. On average 25 per cent of budgets would be cut from April, with the loss of at least three more youth centres and 24 more staff.


Read the full report here: London’s lost youth services

Writing the History of Youth in the Modern World, 1800 to the present

It would be great to see contributions on the history of youth work/youth organisations. A few names come to mind.

Writing the History of Youth in the Modern World, 1800 to the present

Friday 26th May 2017, University of Sheffield


Call For Papers

The lives and experiences of young people have long been a topic of historical interest. This conference seeks to explore how historians understand and represent youth in the modern world, and encourages reflection on the different ways of writing the history of young people. With a growing amount of work in the field, this conference will provide a space for scholars to reflect on current approaches, reinterpret and re-evaluate older approaches and structures, present work that moves beyond the urban experiences of youth, or that adopts transnational approaches, and to question how the lives of young people relate to wider histories.

Topics could include, but are not limited to:

The spaces and places inhabited by youth
Regional or local histories of young people
Youth organisations
The experiences and histories of marginalised or underrepresented youth
Reflections on methodologies or sources
Identities of young people
Sex and relationships
The young person as a consumer

Proposals for individual papers of 20 minutes are invited for any topic related to the history of young people in the modern period, loosely defined from 1800- present.

Relevant proposals from outside of the discipline of history are also welcome. Abstracts of 300-350 words should be sent to Sarah Kenny ( by Friday 24th February 2017.

Brighton battles on as politicians resign

The Brighton’Protect Youth Services’ campaign continues to display remarkable energy and creativity – see Facebook page.

Evidently such was the impact of young people at Monday’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, the sharpness of their questioning, that the Chair, Councillor Tom Bewick has announced he will relinquish his role as Labour’s lead on children and young people.

Brighton and Hove children’s chief steps down – Brighton and Hove News

Green Group statement on Councillor Tom Bewick stepping down as Labour Council’s lead on Children, Young People and Skills

According to the Greens,  Tom Bewick was quick to expose problems in Labour’s youth service cuts to the media and at yesterday’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, even described Labour’s cuts plans as ‘short-sighted.’

Meanwhile the campaign is in the throes of planning a protest march on January 28 – see Facebook page


Brighton & Hove City Council plan to cut 80% of the Youth Services budget, so we plan to march from the Old Steine (War Memorial) to the Clock Tower to Brighton Station. At Brighton Station there will be some speeches and then we will make our way to the upstairs of Grand Central Pub (across the street) if people want to. The march will be from about 1pm-2pm then the Pub will be 2pm-5pm. Join us.

If you are from the South-East and can make it, your presence on the march would be a real boost to the struggle.



I wonder, does every Youthworker……?A freezing James Ballantyne ponders.

My favourite youth work blogger, James Ballantyne, kicks off the New Year with a list of questions it’s difficult to resist answering. His musing starts from pondering whether all youth workers are huddled in cold offices.


Ta to

Read in full at I wonder, does every Youthworker……?

That got me thinking – what else – apart from the ability to work in a cold office – what other experiences of youth work might be pretty much common, or even universal to all youth workers?

  • Do all youth workers have a positive experience of being ‘youth worked’ as a young person?
  • Do all youth workers have large DVD collections (we could be specific and suggest actual titles)
  • I wonder – do all faith-based youth workers either start or grow up evangelical? – some might stay.
  • Do all youth workers hope they had better supervision?
  • Have all youth workers used at least one ‘ready to use guide’ in youthwork magazine?
  • Have all youth workers had to try and describe what they do by saying what they’re not? (ie police, social worker, teacher)
  • Do all youth workers find the dark spots even when the light is blazing bright?
  • Do all youth workers love that moment when it ‘just clicks’ between themselves and a young person – that moment of conversation, moment of trust, moment of significance
  • Do all youth workers wish more people would ‘get’ what youth work actually is
  • Do all youth workers know the feeling of just running on adrenalin during a residential weekend with young people – but also loving every single minute of it
  • Have all youth workers (in the UK) read either something by Pete Ward, Jeffs and Smith, Paulo Freire, Danny Brierley or Richard Passmore?
  • Do all youth workers cringe at being subjected to the same ice-breakers that they subject young people to?
  • Has every youth worker had the ‘Why me?’ moment when the mini-bus breaks down half way up the M6, or young people smash windows on the residential, or terrorise the neighbours, or run across the roadr, drunk, just when you are with them on detached (maybe that one is just me) – but the ‘why me?’ moment none the less.
  • Has every youth worker took positives from the ‘why me?’ moment – either for themselves, the memories and experiences created or the relationship building with such challenging young people… yeah,, thought so..
  • Does every youth worker secretly wish they got paid as much as a teacher but glad they don’t have to do the work or have the day to day pressure a teacher does.
  • Does every youth worker drink coffee? ( actually no this isn’t true)
  • Is every youth worker on Facebook?
  • Does every youth worker love the variety of every day, of every week and every moment with young people?
  • Does every youth worker hate it when young people are misrepresented, judged unfairly and not listened to?
  • Does every youth worker work in a cold office space?

Nodding much? ..I thought so… I reckon I am at least 15 of these and so I wonder if they are just ‘highlights’ of my own experience as a youth worker, and I imagine many of you reading this will be able to add others to the list. It’s a bit like those magazines, if you scored 0-8 you’re not a proper youth worker, or ‘are you new?’ , score 8-15..and so on.. but

There are times when the world of youth work brings out the distinctions in people’s practices, beliefs or intentions, but I wonder deep down most youth workers share many common experiences of cold office spaces, misunderstood practice, love for coffee and DVD’s, and desire better supervision – all because they invest and care deeply about young people.

PS In a provocative tweet James asks, ‘Call yourself a youth worker? Maybe getting 15/20 is the benchmark?’

Against Borders for Children: Boycott Schools Census

I’m wondering to what extent youth workers are up to scratch with this ‘hostile’ development, which clearly may involve young people engaged with youth clubs, projects and initiatives?


Parents, teachers, everyone: join the Against Borders for Children campaign in the New Year for our first ever public meeting!
*Find out how we’ve managed to make it this far and what we’ve achieved;
*Learn more about the campaign in the context of the ‘hostile environment’ for migrants and disappearing data privacy rights;
*Help us imagine what conversations about race and migration in the classroom might look like in the future; and
*Find out how you can be involved with upcoming actions!
The keynote will be given by Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT.

The Department for Education collects personal information on every child in the English Education and Early Years system. This involves 8 million children in England aged between 6 and 19. It involves childminders, nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools. This collection happens through the Early Years Census and the School Census, then is permanently stored on the National Pupil Database. From September 2016, the School Census will include immigration data; the country of birth and nationality of children (the campaign has seen a government u-turn on collecting immigration data on the Early Years Census).

no-child-illegalThe School Census takes place every academic term, so three times a year; October, January and May. It is statutory data collection on individual pupils and the schools themselves. It is done for all schools that receive government funding including:

nursery schools
primary schools, including middle-deemed-primary schools
secondary schools, including middle-deemed-secondary schools
special schools (for children with special educational needs or disabilities), including hospital schools
pupil referral units (PRUs – for children who can’t go to a mainstream school)
community, foundation, voluntary-aided, and voluntary-controlled schools
academies and free schools
studio schools
university technical colleges (UTCs)
non-maintained special schools
schools for service children overseas take part in this census on a voluntary basis.

For further info go to SchoolsABC

See also the Guardian article, Pupil data shared with Home Office to ‘create hostile environment’ for illegal migrants

Martha Spurrier, the director of Liberty, argues: “This isn’t a data-sharing agreement – it is a secret government programme that turns the Department for Education into a border control force with an explicit aim to create a hostile environment in schools and assist with mass deportation of innocent children and their families. This has Theresa May’s fingerprints all over it.”

The revelation comes after an uproar over plans to include questions on schoolchildren’s nationalities and countries of birth on the annual schools census, which campaigners warned could turn teachers into de facto border guards and stoke divisions in the classroom.

Youth workers as agents for change? A New Year perennial? A New Year challenge to be critically conscious.

As we enter 2017, not sure about you, but I’m struggling. This evening I’m going to a concert, ‘Musical Optimism for the New Year’. I’m afraid I might not catch the spirit of the occasion. Trying to write something about the state of youth work and how this relates to the divided, precarious and violent character of capitalism in turmoil has hardly calmed my anxiety.

In this context it’s always helpful to know other folk are wrestling with the same dilemmas. Hence here’s a challenging piece from Riikka Jalonen [Finland] and Farkhanda Chaudhry [Scotland], which begins:



Farkhanda and Riikaa together


It is time for the youth workers to be brave again! We need to recall the radical traditions of youth work. We can support the youth to understand the unequal power structures in society and what they can do if they want to challenge the socio-political status quo. In order to do that, firstly we need to reflect whether we want to uphold the existing unequal power structures or are we ready to challenge them? Is youth work today aspiring to those core values and ideals or has institutionalisation of youth work made us servants of the state rather than change makers? Whose purpose does this serve?

In the last decades we have noticed that the radical tradition of youth work has been fading and youth workers have been seen more and more as service providers for youth. The EU and national governments are providing youth workers resources such as training, funds and space to keep the youth out of trouble The trend is to work on the ‘problems’ that young people may face, for example, being unemployed, drugs and addiction, juvenile crime, or to be excluded from society. This model of engagement focusing on the individual has no scope for young people to collectively challenge the existing power structures. The current fear of radicalization further hinders youth workers’ possibilities of engaging young people in activities that facilitate resistance to oppression.

Read in full at

Youth workers as agents for change

In their conclusion they talk of ‘consciousness’, our sense of ourselves as individuals and our collective interdependence, what we used to call ‘personal, social and political awareness’.  Given the continuing effort to inflict on youth work simplistic explanations of both our own and young people’s so-called behaviour our new year’s resolution might well be to argue for youth work as the cultivation of critical consciousness. OK, fair enough this way of putting it is hardly snappy and a mite pretentious, but its heart is in the right place. Its desire to defend and extend youth work as a mutual, questioning dialogue free from imposed timescales, prescribed outcomes and top-down definitions of good character remains as necessary as ever.

Looking forward to arguing and struggling together in the months ahead and feeling better than when I started to scrawl these thoughts.

Best Wishes and Solidarity to friends and critics across the globe

And to keep our feet on the ground the latest news from Brighton .

There will be a Protect Youth Services campaign strategy meeting at Brighton Youth Centre this Friday (6th Jan) 5-7pm. It would be great if lots of young people could be there – please pass the word on (we can help with travel costs if needed).

In addition Brighton residents being encouraged to e-mail members of the Children Young People and Skills Committee
Tom Bewick (Labour) – Chair of CYPS Committee –
Daniel Chapman (Labour) – Deputy Chair-
Emma Daniel (Labour) –
Caroline Penn (Labour) –
Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Labour) –
Vanessa Brown (Conservative) – Conservative Spokesperson –
Nick Taylor (Conservative) –
Andrew Wealls (Conservative) –
Alex Phillips (Green) – Green Spokesperson –
Amanda Knight (Green) –


In Praise of Integrity: Phil Scraton turns down OBE

Phil Scraton, currently Professor of Criminology at Queen’s University, Belfast, famous for his tireless work at the heart of the Hillsborough Campaign and a supportive figure in the emergence of IDYW, has turned down an Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours List.

Ta to the Liverpool Echo

Ta to the Liverpool Echo

Phil Scraton refuses OBE

Hillsborough Campaigner Professor Phil Scraton Rejects New Year’s Honour

Speaking to BBC Rado 4’s Today programme on Friday, Scraton said: “I feel very strongly that for many years the successive governments refused to take seriously the issues that we raised in those early reports and in Hillsborough: The Truth.”

He also said that his contributions to the Lord Justice Stuart-Smith review, set up at the behest of Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1997, were directly criticised.

He added: “I think that many of the people who are involved in offering such honours have been part of that process and I feel very strongly that I could not accept an honour now that these issues have been resolved in the way in which they have.”

Phil also underlined “making a point” against the “outdated notion of an Empire”.

He said: “I think it is inappropriate that people’s public service contribution should be acknowledged in this kind of way.

“I think many states do this but I consider it inappropriate, it is linked directly to  some undated notion of an Empire.”

He added: “I think our recognition (of public service) should be devoid of any kind of inference of Empire or those kind of processes.”

But Scraton stressed that his rejection of an honour was not a reflection on those who lost loved ones at Hillsborough.

He told the programme: “My refusal in no way reflects on the acceptance of an honour by family members or campaign leaders, especially Trevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall, whose work was absolutely central, as with all the families and survivors, in getting this to where we are now.

“But their position is quite different to mine… they’re accepting honours on behalf of the 96 who died and on behalf of the bereaved families and survivors and their campaign. They had dedicated their lives to sustaining this campaign. I was neither bereaved nor was I a survivor, I just did my work as a critical academic.” [my emphasis]

In marking our deep respect for Phil’s integrity and committment we might well affirm our desire to being critical youth workers, ever watchful of governments of whatever supposed persuasion.