LOGBOOK 3 : Youth Work as a Profession


Again ahead of our conference which will be tangling with dilemmas posed by a fractured landscape of youth work and a fragmenting workforce or profession, POYWE [Professional Open Youth Work Europe] has produced its latest impressive e-magazine, Logbook 3. Its theme is youth work as a profession viewed theoretically and through the prism of examples in practice from Croatia, Lithuania, Finland, South Tyrol and across the ocean, Indianopolis. It also includes interviews with youth workers undertaken by our own Pauline Grace.

As it happens it contains also a typical rant from me about neoliberalism’s impact on open youth work.

Hence it’s never been keen on the questioning, improvisatory and unruly world of open youth centres and projects. It fears a dialogue that fosters critical thought. It mistrusts a space, where young people create their own autonomous groups and agendas. It is deeply suspicious of an unpredictable process, which refuses to guarantee its destination. Above all it is impatient. It has no time for time, no time for the uneven pace of making conversations and relationships.

And so on and so on! The managing director of POYWE, Marc Boes is not impressed. He responds in a complementary opinion piece, implying that we [I] fall into the trap of simply complaining about the ‘Other’ rather than reflecting upon ourselves.

What is interesting about this is that youth work in times of cuts has the same reflex. It is all the fault of the “enemy” and we are definitely not going to take a hard look at ourselves. The point is that youth work always will be influenced by politics on which youth work has almost no influence. It is called democracy. A majority of the voters wanted to have the budget cuts, plain and simple.

Anyway see what you think, but more importantly find time to explore the diversity of excellent articles, which challenge our often insular British outlook on youth work. In addition to those mentioned above there is a discussion on developing detached work through European cooperation and a summary of young people’s and students’ expectations of open youth work.

Finally the e-magazine contains POYWE’s Declaration of the Principles of Open Youth Work, around which we hope to organise an IDYW seminar.

Read the whole magazine in full at LOGBOOK 3. Well worth the trouble.



Ahead of Conference : Mutually appealing?


In the afternoon of this coming Friday’s IDYW national conference we will be sharing and exploring the diversity of work situations, in which workers find themselves. Amongst these is the phenomenon off the mutual. The very word gives off a promising aroma, but what does it smell like in reality. Malcolm Ball will offer some thoughts on Friday.

Meanwhile CYPN reports in its usual bland, uncritical way on the latest manifestation.

Council launches youth service mutual

An employee and young person-led youth mutual has begun delivering youth services for a London council.

Social enterprise Youth First, which is 70 per cent owned by staff and 30 per cent by young people, took over running Lewisham Council’s youth services in September.

All of the council’s youth service staff – believed to be around 55 – have transferred to the new organisation, which has been awarded a three-year contract worth more than £3m after a tendering process.

The amount the council pays Youth First will reduce by £150,000 each year over the duration of the contract.

It will run the borough’s five adventure playgrounds, five youth centres and a wide range of commissioned youth activities and services.

Lewisham Council is the latest authority to develop an alternative model to provide youth services, including EPIC CIC in Kensington and Chelsea, Knowsley Youth Mutual in Knowsley and Young Lambeth Co-operative in Lambeth. 

Earlier this month, Devon County Council announced that it too intends to award its youth service contract to a staff-run social enterprise.

In August, Islington Council also rubber-stamped plans for a staff-run mutual to deliver half of its adventure playgrounds.


JNC rescued from oblivion as workers accept pay settlement


CYPN reports that for now the JNC agreement remains intact, JNC saved after youth workers accept pay settlement.

Earlier this year, local government employers announced they intended to end the dedicated terms and conditions deal for youth workers, known as the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) agreement, which has been in place since 1961.

However, this week staff representatives of the JNC agreement, which consist of Unite, Unison, the National Union of Teachers, and the University and College Union, accepted an offer that will see youth workers on salaries of £17,651 and above receive a rise of one per cent from September 2016, followed by a further one per cent increase in September 2017.

The pay deal will now preserve JNC terms and conditions for youth and community workers until 2018.

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, national officer for community, youth and play workers at Unite, said saving the JNC agreement is a “significant victory” for youth and community workers.

“We believe that termination of the JNC agreement will see the marginalisation of the youth work professional qualification and the consignment of the youth work profession into the history books, so this deal represents a great outcome,” he said.

“We will continue to protect and defend the profession of youth work and the JNC.

Whilst this outcome is to be welcomed it masks a continuing tension across what we might term the youth work profession. A significant number of youth work professionals have long been on pay and conditions other than JNC. Many work in settings, where JNC is not the accepted norm. So too in the shifting economy of youth work many independent initiatives, seeking to draw on social enterprise funding streams, find it impossible to compete and survive without abandoning JNC. How do folk on the ground respond to these dilemmas? What do they make of the present situation?

The use of story-telling to look at responses to sexual abuse in Argentina


We’ve been taken aback by the global interest in our advocacy of story-telling as a  subjective, qualitative and comparable attempt to illustrate the distinctiveness of informal youth work. Indeed partial translations of our web resource, Story-Telling in Youth Work  have appeared in Russian, Kazakh and Finnish with a Japanese version in the offing.

And now Colin Brent has posted a fascinating translation of a piece by Alejandro Capriati, Researcher at CONICET/University of Buenos Aires entitled, ‘The use of story-telling to look at responses to sexual abuse in Argentina.’

Alejandro begins:

Story-telling in Youth Work is a process used by workers, tutors and students that work with young people. In England many of them are government-employed youth workers specially trained for working with young people that are not part of formal education or health services and work in open-access spaces for young people. These have few restrictions on young people’s engagement and are spaces where young people can hang out, take part in a great range of activities (radio, music, art, courses, cooking, etc.), or just do nothing. Each youth centre works in its own way, but is based on the principal of voluntary engagement, and has a focus on relationships, the building of trust between young people and workers, and personal development. From that starting point, some young people may reengage with formal education, report abuse, get support with substance misuse, etc.

There are similarities and differences in the work with young people in English youth centres and in certain projects in Argentina carried out by charities or as part of some social programmes. Looking at these comparisons has been the focus point of a collaboration with Colin Brent, a manager of a youth centre in London, with the aim of adapting our practice and sharing experiences. As part of this exchange of ideas I have taken up using the story-telling technique.

This technique can be used face-to-face in work with young people; as a resource for organisation change through staff training, supervision and monitoring; to communicate the value of youth work; and to evaluate projects. The general aim is for youth workers and their colleagues to have a clear idea of what is distinct in their practise and how this is important for the young people, using critical reflexion about methods of intervention to identify successes, challenges and inconclusive processes.

The objective is for participants to be able to critically reflect on the uniqueness of youth work through describing and analysing an example of practice, exploring the meaning of it for themselves and for the young people. Of course, the idea is to adapt the technique to each situation and context, and below I share our experience.

Continue here

The web resource also includes the Spanish original at El uso del relato de caso (story-telling) para pensar las respuestas a casos de abuso sexual en Argentina

Let’s meet locally and regionally – a new initiative


Bernard Davies and Malcolm Ball setting a date for the next meeting

Ever since our emergence we’ve wanted to encourage local and regional IDYW involvement. Indeed our revised 2014 Statement of Purpose reflected that,

Apart from London and the North-East we have been much less successful in encouraging the flowering of local and regional IDYW groups. This is a major weakness. In truth it means we are a campaign with an appreciative, but largely passive following, relying on the endeavours of a small number of activists to keep the flame burning.

And in reality the London and North-East efforts were not sustained.

However Colin Brent from the IDYW steering group has made a bid, initially on Facebook, to have a fresh crack at bringing people together.

Hi everyone, I’m thinking tentatively about organising some semi-regular seminars (once every three months?) for youth workers and other friends of IDYW to discuss issues around youth work. These would take place in London, be free and open to all and hopefully create a space for people to come together. Is there any interest in this or any ideas of themes? I would like to do one on the ethics of banning young people from youth provision. I look forward to hearing people’s views.

There has been a lively response from the South-East, Yorkshire, Liverpool, Cumbria and Dorset, where cream cakes are being offered as an incentive. However everyone recognises that making this happen, finding the time and energy, is easier said than done. With this in mind we are thinking we should explore this issue together at the IDYW conference on September 30 in Birmingham.

In the meantime Colin is organising a meeting, probably on Friday, November 18 in the metropolis, whilst Tracey Ramsey Lhu is hoping to hold a gathering on the same date in Liverpool. They will be liaising on how the two events might collaborate. More information to follow.

Thanks to Colin for the kick up the backside and to once more encourage supporters to think seriously about meeting and gathering strength from each other.

When two or three are gathered together – in coffee bar or hostelry – we render collective our criticism and resistance. Make a date with your fellow workers. You know it makes sense. (A.N. Other, 2016)

PS The Institute for Youth Work via Adam Muirhead has indicated that it is keen to collaborate in setting up/supporting local and regional meetings under whatever umbrella.



Positive Youth Justice: Children First, Offenders Second, October 20, Glasgow

Message from Steve Case, now at Loughborough University, re this event.

Would love to see some IDYW folks in Glasgow. I’d like to think that you’d approve of the message!

This reminds me that we should get our act together and organise a joint event with the Positive Youth Justice folk.


Positive Youth Justice: Children First, Offenders Second

CYCJ and the School of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Strathclyde are hosting a free seminar event ‘Positive Youth Justice: Children First, Offenders Second’ as part of the School of Social Policy and Social Work Seminar Series 2016/2017.

Featuring guest speaker Professor Stephen Case from Loughborough University, the event will commence at 4pm (for a 4.30pm start) on October 20 in the Collins Suite, Collins Building, University of Strathclyde.

If you would like to attend, please email cycj@strath.ac.uk.

Seminar abstract

The Children First, Offenders Second (CFOS) model evolves youth justice beyond its contemporary risk focus and promotes a positive, principled, progressive and practical approach to the treatment of children in the Youth Justice System.

The measurement, assessment and improvement of the risk children present to themselves and others underpins and drives contemporary youth justice processes. However, the utility of the risk paradigm has been over-stated and is incapable of sustaining the faith placed in it as the guiding principle for animating youth justice practice. Nevertheless, there is at present no consensus about what approach to youth justice should or can replace risk as the driver of policy and practice.

In his seminar, Professor Case will outline the CFOS model as a manifesto for changing the Youth Justice System – a modern, economic-normative paradigm founded on central guiding principles for positive youth justice practice – child-friendly and child-appropriate, rights-focused treatment, diversion, inclusionary prevention, participation and engagement, legitimacy, the promotion of positive behaviour and outcomes, evidence-based partnership, systems management and the responsibilisation of adults. CFOS is a blueprint for a distinctive, principled, progressive approach to working with children; one that can be adopted and adapted by local authority areas throughout England and Wales, and by other nation states across the UK, Europe and beyond.

The evolution, trajectory and practical realisation of CFOS positive youth justice will be discussed with evidence from a 20 year programme of associated reflective research in Swansea, and the emerging success of an integrated, holistic and child-friendly delivery model in Surrey.

A Collective Chance to be Self-Critical – see you in Brum on the 30th





FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 from 11.15 – 4.30


Back in April we postponed our national conference as a number of other broad initiatives were on the go. We said at the time we hoped our rearranged conference would keep the debate about the future alive and ongoing. Our themes, ‘Blurring the Boundaries?’ and ‘Re-Imagining Youth Work?’ raise questions for In Defence of Youth Work. and the youth sector as a whole.



11.15 Where is IDYW up to? What is its role?

11.30 Challenging IDYW’s perspective, ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’ – Annette Coburn [University of West Scotland] and Sinead Gormally [University of Hull] with a response from Tania de St Croix [IDYW] followed by open discussion.

12.40 Paul Fenton will share the major themes arising from the Shaping the Future events held by the Professional Association of Lecturers in YCW followed by open discussion.

1.30 Lunch – bring your own snap as per tradition or there are local shops.

2.15 Where are people working? How is youth work surviving? Kirsty Lowrie  [Aspire Arts] and Malcolm Ball [IDYW] will lead off a dialogue in small groups about the state of play on the ground.

3.45 Where do we go from here? Dependent on how the day unfolds we will have a Q&A panel session or break into local/regional groups.

Tea, coffee etc will be available.

Conference fee is a minimum of £10 waged, £5 students/unwaged.

To book a place contact Rachel@yasy.co.uk

Please circulate the flyers

idywsept30 – Word flyer

idywsept30 – pdf flyer