The Youth Work Heist

Encouraging critical thoughts from our supporters is high on the list of the Campaign’s concerns. Thus we are really pleased to post two challenging responses from workers still immersed in the ‘muck and bullets’ of practice.

Lenny’s piece begins:

So… I attended the Federation for Detached Youth Work Conference at Wigan in November last year and I must declare that I became increasingly charged throughout the weekend with a delightful positivity and felt an unusual level of intense inspiration from the radiant enthusiasm and passion of the guest speakers and other attendees. And then Tom Wylie spoke. He charged youth work purists with being hopeless romantics and scoffed at the thought that there was any value in the convivial relationship between youth worker and young person. My positivity plummeted and my hope wilted with every word that fell from his lips. There seemed to be a cruel irony in that a conference with the theme “Positive About The Street” should end with such a negative tone.

I get the feeling that I’ve been climbing a mountain for fifteen years only to find that the architects of social policy have built another mountain on top, twice as big and twice as steep. Metaphorically the mountain represents the daily grind of wading, chest-high through the formalised social control that is currently trading under the title of youth work©. I’ve got my own vision of the summit and the clarity is startling. But that’s just a vision. The reality is a jumbled mess of strategic clichés.

Read the whole and Lenny’s suggestions for the future: The Great YW Heist

Meanwhile Steve in two pieces, Thatcher,_Blair_and_all_that_jazz and YOUTH_WORK – to be or not to be blurts out, to use his own phrase, his thoughts on the individualising imperative of the last 30 years and the state of Youth Work today.

Meanwhile, youth workers, and many others, dare to do youth work because they are working with young people. Recent figures say approx. 2800 of approx. 8500 full-time youth workers are JNC qualified. I was trained to work with young people informally to encourage their participation in the practices necessary for everyday living as part of a community.

I wasn`t trained to label young people so as to prescribe a set course of action to remove their mistakes and make them a model citizen. Whilst this has alluring tentacles its premise is faulty except for some young people(human beings) who may respond to this approach.

Both Lenny and Steve would love to get responses, to have you join in the debate. All of us need one another’s help in  escaping the trap of passivity, in refusing to keep our gobs shut.


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