IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK
‘WHERE ARE WE UP TO? WHERE ARE WE GOING?
JANUARY 19 IN LONDON and JANUARY 20 IN MANCHESTER
The In Defence of Youth Work campaign burst into life in early 2009. It did so partly as a response to the post-Lehmann 2008 economic débâcle. We argued that the crisis offered an opportunity to revitalise a debate about the purpose of youth work. Almost three years on the economic crisis continues, yet both neo-liberal economics and politics prevail. State social policy under the Coalition preaches austerity and threatens the very existence of the Welfare State. Youth work is under severe assault. Against the odds we have sought to stimulate argument and activity about the need to defend and extend democratic youth work, symbolised by the appearance of our book/DVD, This is Youth Work. We have much about which to be proud. Yet the very intensity of the period has meant that we ourselves have sidestepped uncomfortable issues within the work and contradictions within our own ranks.
Thus we are organising two days of discussion, within which we hope to grapple with these dilemmas. Three themes for the workshops have been identified and accompanying papers will be circulated early in the New Year. On the day these themes will be introduced briefly with the emphasis being placed on the width and depth of the debate.
- Defending Democratic Youth Work and Fighting the Cuts – one and the same struggle?
Have we lost our way in forgetting sometimes the fundamentals of our campaign, whilst defending provision whose practices are far from emancipatory? How do we view the spectre of major organisations such as NYA and NCVYS, along with many local authorities, accommodating uncritically and opportunistically to the government’s targeting and commissioning agenda?
- Protecting Our Corner?
Is there a case for an Institute of Youth Work? Is further ‘professionalisation’ a force for good, a necessary evil or elitist protectionism? What does this all mean for the rich and much abused tradition of ‘volunteering’? To what extent does an Institute recognise the renaissance of faith-based youth work?
- Making Alliances : Broadening the Struggle?
From the outset we have stressed the importance of making alliances, the necessity of playing a part in the wider struggle for equality, justice and democracy, what is the balance sheet of our efforts? We have sought to work closely with the trade unions, Choose Youth, the National Coalition for Independent Action [NCIA], the Social Work Action Network [SWAN] and the Federation of Detached Youth Work. Should we be reaching out to such as the anti-capitalist developments, symbolised by the OCCUPY movement?
- In addition the publication of This is Youth Work is opening up not to be missed opportunities of engaging through workshops with workers/managers, students, other education and welfare practitioners, funders and politicians. We will outline proposals on how we are looking to move this forward and report on initiatives already taken.
The sessions will run from 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Further details re venues in both London and Manchester will be available shortly.
Please make every effort to join in the arguments. We need your dissent, your criticism, your creativity and your support.
Places may be restricted, so contact Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot.
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