Conference Reflections 1

We welcome your critical  thoughts on the conference. To start the pram perambulating, here are some early contributions from those attending.

Lenny muses:

I think the new management culture (bureaucracy) has been developing and strengthening its own systems and structures to the point where it has taken control of society.  I felt this shortly after Thatcher kicked our arses in the miners strike.  Where bureaucracy used to support, it is now in command.  Where bureaucracy once supported capitalism, capitalism now supports bureaucracy.  I must admit I’m not the greatest fan of Marx and so I don’t believe capitalism will necessarily consume itself.  I think Marx underestimated the strength of technology and that technology has protected the structures and that… what the fuck am I raving on about?!!!    How do you deal with an aggressive management culture?  We can’t fight it toe-to-toe because it is far too big and we are far too small (at the moment).  My own strategy has been a self-destructive one.  I have told the system that I disagree with it and now I’m a marked man.  It doesn’t matter how much honesty and integrity I have, I’m still seen as an agitator, a trouble-causer and an irritant.  I was called a “loose cannon” a couple of months ago that really hurt.  I always see a loose cannon as being someone who is reckless and destructive whereas my focus has always been on “fixing” things which don’t work properly.  If I’m not allowed to fix something, which is pretty much the case here, then I expose it.  I’m also a very cautious worker and … I digress… again.  How do you deal with an aggressive management culture?  If you want to keep your job I suggest you create an anonymous channel for critical debate.  I suggest that you, me all of us make this debate as public as possible so that others who are disillusioned may seek some comfort and support and encouragement in knowing they are not alone.  If we can encourage everyone to talk by offering anonymity then we will have a situation where our voice is louder and we will also be able to look at our numbers.  At the moment we haven’t got a clue how many people out there are disheartened by this situation.  Maybe there is only a handful of us but maybe there are thousands of us.  I think this information is important so that we can build strategies around it.  It’s a bit of a vicious cycle isn’t it?  People won’t speak out because they feel exposed and vulnerable but people feel exposed and vulnerable because no one else is speaking out.

Trevor adds:

Thank you for the lead in organising the IDoYW; which incidently looks like txt speak for I do Youth Work. which can’t be bad!

For me it renewed my focus on reasons that I am a youth worker and the one thing I focused on was that there is an urgent need to ‘claim the name’ by which we need to ensure that to be called a ‘Youth Worker’ you have to be JNC qualified!  At present anyone can call themselves a ‘youth worker’ and I personally resent this as I couldn’t claim to be a ‘Lawyer’, ‘Social Worker’ or ‘Doctor’ so why isn’t the name Youth Worker protected in the same way?  If we won this battle then many of the threats to Youth Work would stop and we would have our place at the IYSS table protected.

And Andrew argues;

During my attendence of the most recent conference In Defence of Youth Work and the days following I have been in conflict regarding the tone and premise of the campaign. I do not disagree with the arguments raised. However in all honesty I found many aspects reactionary. I feel in some situations we missed the point. Yet the point was elusive to me, until now. The whole campaign in my view should be ‘In Support of Youth Work.’ To defend is to define. To defend is to identify a moment in which we associate and identify as needing defending.

To promote is to explore to look forward to open up. It is to say ‘We as an organisation of professional Youth and Community Workers promote and encourage Youth Work as a recognised celebrated successful way to informally educate and be educated. In doing so we will explore & provide opportunities to develop youth work with guiding principles of voluntary participation, leading to social, economic, physical, spiritual and political emancipation and empowerment. This will allow young people to be informed, yet challenged, critical yet communitarians, contributers not consumers within their family, society, culture, country and the world in which they live.’

We do this with support of central government, voluntary aided organisations, charities, faith groups and community groups. Our agenda is Young People and the community in which they live. It is our intent to promote and support this agenda as our own and In Support Of Youth Work for today tomorrow and the future.

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