At the national conference we agreed to explore ways of utilising the pre-Election period to highlight our defence of democratic Youth Work.
You will find below, for what it is worth, a possible letter to local candidates with copies to the press inviting them to a public meeting to debate the future of youth work. The LEIGH bit is just about where I was born – substitute as appropriate!
Obviously you might want to revise, tear it up or whatever, but I think such an approach has some value, especially if it could be sent with the backing of the local union branches and voluntary organisations.
Better to act than just grumble [ apologies to William Morris]
THE IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK CAMPAIGN
THE LEIGH PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCY
An Open Invitation to all Parliamentary Candidates in the forthcoming General Election
These are troubled times. Commentators from across the political spectrum talk endlessly about the economic and political crisis. Against this backcloth everyone worries about the present generation of young people. On the one hand they are seen positively as being ‘Our Future’. On the other they are demonised as an anti-social threat to the very fabric of our society.
How are we to engage with this contradiction?
As youth workers, volunteers, part-time and full-time, we are in the midst of the dilemma. Perhaps it goes without saying, but we believe in and trust young people. And, we would argue, young people respond positively to this respect.
But we are in a quandary.
Our voluntary and negotiated relationship with young people – they could always tell us to get lost- has been eroded by successive governments. The strength of the youth work tradition going back to the nineteenth century is that it focused on the whole young person, on their potential as active participants in a thriving democracy. Unfortunately in recent times youth workers have found their role diminished. We have been pushed into preparing young people to be employable. This is not our job. We have been pressed into being ‘soft police’ imposing ourselves on young people’s lives. Frankly this doesn’t work. Young people see through us.
As our possible future member of Parliament we would like to debate with you these contradictions.
As youth workers we desire to be involved in educating young people to become creative citizens, able to govern and be governed. We think we have a distinctive role to play in this vital process.
We would appreciate your involvement in a public meeting, bringing together ourselves, young people and the community to think through these issues together. And we do so, knowing full well that money is very tight.
Hoping to hear from you soon
CC to local press etc…
Please share, circulate your criticisms, revisions, alternatives etc…..