The Open Letter, ‘In Defence of Youth Work’, which has sparked this campaign, begins:
Thirty years ago Youth Work aspired to a special relationship with young people. It wanted to meet young women and men on their terms. It claimed to be ‘on their side’. Three decades later Youth Work is close to abandoning this distinctive commitment. Today it accepts the State’s terms. It sides with the State’s agenda. Perhaps we exaggerate, but a profound change has taken place.
This shift has not happened overnight. Back in the 1980’s the Thatcherite effort via the Manpower Services Commission to shift the focus of Youth Work from social education to social and life skills was resisted. In the early 90’s attempts to impose a national curriculum on the diverse elements of the Youth Service ground to a halt. However with the accession of New Labour the drive to impose an instrumental framework on Youth Work gathered increasing momentum. With Blair and Brown at the helm youth workers and managers have been coerced and cajoled into embracing the very antithesis of the Youth Work process: predictable and prescribed outcomes. Possessing no vision of a world beyond the present New Labour has been obsessed with the micro-management of problematic, often demonised youth. Yearning for a generation stamped with the State’s seal of approval the government has transformed Youth Work into an agency of behavioural modification. It wishes to confine to the scrapbook of history the idea that Youth Work is volatile and voluntary, creative and collective – an association and conversation without guarantees.
To read more go here and in addition to the separate page identified at the top of the sidebar, which contains the whole text at a glance. Evidently having this discrete page makes it easier to circulate around social networking sites such as Facebook.
We wish to encourage the circulation of this call to arms, so find below two versions, one in Word, the other in PDF, which we hope you might use in spreading the debate.