Find below the latest information on our two workshops to be held at the end of this month. Please circulate the flyer to your contacts and please get involved in the debate. Stop Press: the London meeting will be held at the UNISON HQ, 130 Euston Road.
WHERE NEXT FOR THE IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK CAMPAIGN?
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29 WORKSHOP IN LONDON [11.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.]
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30 WORKSHOP IN SHEFFIELD [11.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.]
It’s nigh on four years since the campaign sprang into existence. We think time has vindicated our belief that youth work as ‘informal education through voluntary association founded on young people’s agendas’ is under dire threat. The Coalition has pursued relentlessly the targeted agenda set by New Labour. In addition it has propelled the neo-liberal fetish of the market deep into the heart of services for young people. Commissioning is the order of the day. This shifting landscape throws up a range of questions and concerns for the campaign. For tasters, amongst these are:
Do we exaggerate the significance of voluntary engagement in our definition of youth work?
Given so many youth workers are finding themselves in imposed settings, formerly understood as youth social work, youth justice, preparation for employment and training et al, how can we create a dialogue, which is respectful and supportive of their situation, yet challenging and critical?
Similarly, on the broader front, on what basis do we relate to leading youth organisations such as NYA, NCVYS, UK Youth and BYC, which have embraced the government’s marketised Positive for Youth agenda with little apparent concern re the undermining of workers’ wages and conditions. In recent months we have led an attempt to bring together all parties in an open and pluralist conference on ‘The Future of Youth Work?’, which has yet to materialise.
Perhaps a meeting place for debate will be found in the proposed Institute of Youth Work, provided that this prospective umbrella organisation does not duck the dilemma that youth work is not synonymous with youth services or work with young people.
At a managerial level we have witnessed an uncritical acceptance of outcome frameworks as the panacea for youth work’s alleged failure to prove itself. Strikingly these oft facile and functional offerings lack any sense of power relations or structural inequality.
Contradictorily, whilst the situation for young people worsens in terms of access to employment or education, we are to believe that a proliferation of youth experts, youth entrepreneurs and youth MP’s ‘youth-proofing’ government policy is a step forward. What might be the reality?
Have we got a vision, a sense of purpose, to which we can hold, whilst recognising differences and diversity within our own ranks and the struggle for survival that so many of our supporters are facing, both personally and within their work?
A supporting discussion paper will be available on our site from the beginning of November.
JOIN US IN THE ARGUMENT AND DEBATE – book a place at firstname.lastname@example.org