Tony Taylor denies doing an MA in Entrepreneurial Philanthropy and being headhunted for a CEO Third Sector job


Be not disturbed! There is no basis for the rum rumour that I have embraced neoliberalism and applied to do an MA in Entrepreneurial Philanthropy after being head-hunted for the post of CEO of an unnamed leading Youth Surveillance charity. Although I’m a trifle disappointed not to be asked. This wicked whopper is the work evidently of a mole, who overheard me start a sentence, ‘neoliberalism brought remarkable technological development’ and hallucinated on the spot, thus missing the caveat, ‘yet has widened and deepened inequality’. In addition, it seems the reporting rodent got wind of a discussion at the last IDYW Steering Group meeting, within which I talked of withdrawing from my role as Coordinator. Putting 2 and 2 together the creature came up with a formula, if not for a nerve agent one that indicated I was on the verge of betraying the cause and marketing my inner soul.

Seriously though – you would hope there’s no need for such an opening cliched clause, but nowadays, who can be sure? –  there is a hint of truth in the tall tale. At our last Steering Group, we did discuss our collective capacity to keep the IDYW train on track, within which my ability to contribute was of concern. I indicated that because of, amongst other things, continuing personal pressures I was struggling to fulfil the coordinating role.

It is important to situate this ongoing dilemma in the context outlined in an IDYW statement posted in July 2016, IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK: LESS A CAMPAIGN, MORE A FORUM OF CRITICAL DEBATE?  It’s well worth revisiting in full, but a few lines are pertinent to this discussion.

Our existence is haunted by contradictions and concerns. On a practical level, the IDYW show is kept on the road through the efforts of a small group of volunteers. Of course, this is neither a surprise nor a slight on those unable to be more involved. These remain difficult times. Workers, paid or unpaid, have little time on their hands. Whether disillusioned and weary or optimistic and energetic, it’s a stressful place to be. In this forbidding climate, we have failed to become the campaign group of our imagination.

On reflection, our most important contribution across our lifespan has been to provide a space, increasingly denied elsewhere, for a collective and thoughtful discussion about the state of youth work. We have sought to provide information, commentary, analysis and research to support this process. To do so is in the best tradition of a practice, which aspires to be reflective.


To cut the story short the present consequence of our effort to think things through is as follows:

as Coordinator, from now, I will only be working one day a week on a Monday for IDYW [in terms of research, maintaining the website,  commenting on FB, answering e-mails]; that there will only be one post on the IDYW website each week, ‘Sustenance for the Senses’, which will bring together links to news/information/analysis about the world of youth work and beyond.

– that, alongside this reduced commitment I’ll go at my own pace in terms of other writing I have been asked or wish to do.  If anything worthwhile comes out of this usually tortuous process I’ll put it on my blog at Critically Chatting and draw attention to its appearance on the IDYW site and Facebook.

The Steering Group is to meet on Friday, June 15 in Manchester to explore whether the above experiment in reducing expectations on the Coordinator makes any sense and to draw up a strategy for keeping IDYW alive and kicking. These meetings are always open so further details regarding the venue will be posted in good time.

Our July 2016 post ended on the following note, which retains its pertinence.

Obviously, we hope that you will be both contributor [to] and reader [of the IDYW debates], actively engaged, in the light of your own energy and resources. Whatever we deem ourselves to be, we need one another in a struggle to defend not only youth work, but a belief in a holistic education from cradle to grave, a commitment to a radical praxis and the common good. In this context IDYW still has a useful role to play.

As ever your thoughts and criticisms welcomed.




Youth work beyond the measurement imperative? Tania de St Croix reflects on Youth Investment funding and the associated Learning Project

Youth work beyond the measurement imperative? Reflections on the Youth Investment Fund Learning Project from a critical friend





In this blog, which appears on the Centre for Youth Impact website, Tania de St Croix, Lecturer in the Sociology of Youth and Childhood at King’s College London and member of the IDYW Steering Group, offers her critical thoughts on the Youth Investment Fund Learning Project, which the Centre is leading with New Philanthropy Capital and others. You can find out more information on the YIF Learning Project at

Tania begins:

Many involved in the youth work field are critical of the youth impact agenda, particularly its emphasis on the quantitative measurement of outcomes for individuals, and its neglect of process, group work, and structural inequalities. Those of us involved in ‘In Defence of Youth Work’ have argued that the contemporary emphasis on impact and outcomes cannot be separated from its context, the neoliberal ‘desire to financialise human existence’, and its consequences for which practices are valued and who gets to decide. We have claimed that open access youth work is particularly unsuited to outcomes-based management and that open youth work’s future existence is undermined by an emphasis on impact measurement.

She ends:

So what? And what next?
The current approach to evaluating the Youth Investment Fund demonstrates thoughtfulness and attention to the special characteristics and challenges of open access youth work. As a result, the experiences of young people and youth workers funded by this scheme will be more meaningful and less onerous than they would have been under a more prescriptive top-down approach. The YIF Learning Project goes some way towards challenging dominant approaches to impact measurement. Yet in other ways it is reinforcing the status quo: continuing to prioritise the measurement of individual change, converting qualitative elements of youth work (its quality and young people’s experiences) into statistics, and aiming towards a financialised ‘value for money’ analysis.

Ultimately, without questioning the broader context – the basis on which measurement is still preferred by most funders and governments, as a neoliberal tool of governance and control – many of these problems remain intractable. Moving beyond such dilemmas, then, is not merely a matter of creating more congruent impact tools, reducing the data burden, and involving young people and practitioners in the process (important though all of these things are). It requires imagining meaningful evaluation beyond a focus on outcomes and measurement, thinking seriously about the social and political purpose of youth work, and the role of young people in creating change. It involves working with others – beyond the youth sector and beyond our national and regional borders – to challenge the global dominance of finance and investment logic in activities that hold to a different version of ‘value’. While such aspirations may seem momentous, there is nothing to stop us dreaming of a different world, and doing what we can to make it real in our everyday lives.

We hope very much you will read this important response in its entirety.


What is the Youth Investment Fund? – taken from the website with our link to the identity of the grantees being our only addition or comment.
The Youth Investment Fund is providing new opportunities for young people to get involved in their communities, support their personal development and get the skills and confidence they need to enter the workplace.

The fund is made up of £40 million of government and National Lottery funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Big Lottery Fund.

Funding has been awarded to 86 charity, voluntary and social enterprise groups in East London, Liverpool City Region, West Midlands, Tees Valley and Sunderland, Bristol & Somerset and Eastern Counties over the next three years – find here the names of those granted support.

It will create new youth clubs in rural areas, expand sports projects to build the confidence of young people encouraging them to get active and increase services providing support and guidance to young people.

The Youth Investment Learning Project will:
Design, pilot and implement new data collection approaches for open access youth provision

Develop a shared measurement framework and pilot associated outcomes measures.

Collect and collate data from the grantee organisations

Share learning and methodology

Report findings on ‘what works’ and the impact of open access youth services, including a process evaluation in years 2 and 3

Test the feasibility of approaches to understanding value for money in open access provision?

Provide tailored support and capacity building training to grantees in order to embed impact evaluation within ongoing youth work practice.

The names of the partners to CYI and NPC in the project can be found here.




This is the first notice of the forthcoming ChooseYouth event announced at the IDYW conference on March 9.

choose youth logo



Mon 23 April 2018 16:00 – 18:00 BST


Palace of Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA


Following the successful parliamentary event earlier this year, we are pleased to announce a roundtable discussion on the importance of youth services and creation of a statutory youth service.

Youth services are an essential part of a lifelong learning and civil society and act as the bedrock of many young peoples lives. Over recent years we’ve seen youth service provision decline across the country with parts going completely without.

ChooseYouth which represents over 30 voluntary youth sector organisations has long championed a universal, open access statutory youth service and now in partnership with MP’s in parliament we plan to introduce a bill to create such a service.

This roundtable event in parliament will act as the beginning of that legislative process, bringing together key stakeholders to give their input, not only on the current state of youth services but how best we can advance the cause of a statutory service.


Putting Relationships at the heart of public policy – a conversation

The R Word is a conversation bringing together policy wonks, scientists, practitioners, philosophers, philanthropists, innovators, people facing down disadvantage, and others who will engage in a series of discussions that put relationships at the heart of public policy.


Over the last few weeks David Thompson, a community worker, has posted a series of blogs exploring the task of renewing our commitment to the building of what he terms ‘deep value’ relationships.

The first ‘Connecting Well’ argues:

Connecting well is not the same as being “well connected”. It is not about the size of our address book. It is about the quality of our relationships and, whilst we may now network and transact more than ever, meaningful time together has been, and is being, systematically displaced by fast and shallow connections. We are becoming more atomised and automated, more comfortable with technology but less close to one another.

Aggressive self-interest has triumphed over mutual support as the neoliberal economy has invaded every corner of our lives.

In the tenth of the series, What have we learnt and now what?, he ventures ten tentative headlines, amongst which are:

Responding only to loneliness would be the Food Bank solution — a humane reaction to symptoms and consequences and a necessary response to a crisis but not an attack on the cause. We need also to dig deeper, act earlier.

The future is beyond our current frame of reference, that’s why it is the future. Too often social innovators, especially in the third sector, reduce the scale of an issue to the dimensions of the funding programme. The world doesn’t need a new charity in this field, maybe not even a new app but a different kind of entity helping us all to reimagine and rebuild, generating momentum and catalysing mass. More Airbnb than Travel Lodge, more Lego than Airfix, more MeToo than Trade Union.

There is much to argue about within this exploration, which I’m sure David would welcome, but it points to the continuing need for youth work to allow that its principles and concerns are an expression of the wider struggle to create a just and democratic society.


Learning from Practice – the new International Journal of Open Youth Work

A cordial greeting to the second edition of the International Journal of Open Youth Work, ‘Learning from Practice’ – available by this link as a pdf. Its contents have already got me reaching for my critical pen, which can only mean one thing. Like all properly challenging texts, a raw nerve has been touched. Thanks for the stimulus.



01 The good practice of Young meet young
Mårten Jönsson and Marie Larneby
02 Open youth work in a closed setting:
Applying key elements of Youth Work in a school
Luke Blackham and Jessica Smith
03 PLOUTOS – Pedagogical learning through the
Operation and Urging of Teams for Overcoming
Social exclusion
Angela Passa, Georgia Drosopoulou
and Dr. Vassilis Passas
04 Finding common ground without losing your own.
Results of the project ‘Mapping Professional Open
Youth Work in Europe’
Manfred Zentner and Alexandra Beweis
05 Key competences of non-formal
learning in youth work: based on the example of
Estonian open youth centres
Ilona-Evelyn Rannala and Anu Allekand


The first article is a best practice example about how youth workers can
create dialogue between young Swedes and young arriving refugees. The
second article addresses an important discussion about how open youth
work perspectives can be adapted and used in a formal school setting.
The third article brings us to the Greek town of Patras and an examination
of the methodologies used in the project PLOUTOS. Erasmus + grants are
important for the field of youth work; the fourth article examines and
investigates a strategic partnership within the Erasmus + Programme, and
gives important insight into successes and challenges in such projects.
The last article in this issue problematizes the key competencies of nonformal
learning in youth work in an Estonian context.

IDYW 9th Conference – ‘buzzy’, critical and collaborative



Bernard Davies had sent this report on Friday’s conference in Birmingham, bashed out in his own words to give a flavour of what one Facebook message called a ‘buzzy’ experience.



Matthew Hill, Centre for Youth Impact in full flow


Though it mostly it felt a good news day, the bad news was that not only could Tony Taylor not be with us at the conference because of his broken foot. Even the advanced tech skills of two of our most ‘tecky’ Steering Group members couldn’t quite connect him to us via Skype. A great disappointment given how much work he’d put into the 16-point draft position paper, which acted as the main focus for the day and the other preparation he’d done.


Quite a lot of more positive news did seem to come out of the day, however – attended by 50+ people. As a much-needed reminder that youth work can and does have a future, these included a group of ‘Young Ambassadors’ from the Wakefield Youth Association and a number of current youth and community work students, together with their tutors.


The day began with a minute’s silence to honour three highly respected colleagues who have died recently, namely Peter Duke, John Parr and Kevin Morris. Poignantly Kevin’s funeral was taking place at the very same moment.  The conference proceeded with a brief input setting out the background and development so far of the IDYW ‘Is the Tide Turning?’ initiative since it was launched in the aftermath of last year’s General Election. Work throughout the day took place then in five groups, chosen initially by people for its focus in the first session on one of five more specific issues running through the position paper’s 16 bullet points: outcomes; practice; purposes and values; structuring and funding provision; and training and employment. The lively and indeed often clearly passionate discussions generated many sheets of paper recording key points for IDYW to take away and use in any future work on the paper.



Leigh Middleton, NYA, responds to the debate


The two panel sessions which followed allowed brief inputs from organisations which are pretty key at this point in the youth work struggle – the Centre for Youth Impact, the Institute for Youth Work, NYA, the Training Agencies Group, Unison and Unite. These again prompted exchanges within the groups as well as with some of the speakers directly. A final session in groups and plenary gave people a chance to give voice to some of the main messages to IDYW from the groups – some strongly supportive of points on the draft paper, others pointing to need for further thinking, such as the need not to be defensive in our struggle for youth work but to make the case positively on the basis of its strengths and potential.



Paul Fenton, PALYCW,  puts in his pennyworth


Amidst all this hard work, the café-style arrangement, the availability throughout the day of drinks and bits to snack on and the regular brief breaks clearly opened the way not just for many other searching (if unrecorded) informal discussion and exchanges but also for much personal catching-up and for new encounters.


One individual feedback comment at the end of the day: ‘This is my first time at an IDYW event and I found it really interesting and stimulating’. And on Facebook: ‘an…excellent conference … both informative and inspiring and great to catch up with people that I don’t bump into very often’ – prompting a ‘Hear, hear’ response from someone else.


All very gratifying, though still leaving lots of thinking to do about where next to take all the day’s interest, debates and energy – so further reactions and comments certainly welcome.

Thanks to Kevin Jones for the photos.


In Praise of International Women’s Day


International Women’s Day 2018 campaign theme:

With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo#TimesUp and more – there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

And while we know that gender parity won’t happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day. Plus, there’s indeed a very strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support.

So we can’t be complacent. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. So together, let’s all be tenacious in accelerating gender parity. Collectively, let’s all Press for Progress.


Why we’re striking for women’s rights today

Protests are taking place across the world to mark International Women’s Day. Four UK campaigners explain what they’re standing up for.