We are conscious that quite a few lecturers use In Defence material to catalyse debate about the state of youth work today. In this context we are pleased to receive a range of comments from MA students at Newman College. We’ve pulled them together into one post and hope they might be the beginning of more feedback from the student milieu. Much appreciated.
I’m currently starting on my second module of the MA course in Youth and Community Work at Newman, Birmingham. We have been talking today about Principles and Practices of Youth and Community Work and how the five values of youth work outlined by Jeffs and Smith influence practice. We also touched on the fact that roots of practice and personal roots are, in effect, ‘watered’ by these values. It struck me that when talking about roots in an area as multiculturally diverse as Birmingham, there is a whole discussion to be had with young people about what they themselves value in youth workers they come into contact with.
Seeing government cuts and how their services are being stripped and pared down must feel like they are not valued properly, but also have a detrimental effect on their sense of belonging in a community when somewhere where they have begun to put down roots is being pulled from underneath them. It leaves me with the question, is it any wonder that there is a lack of self-worth amongst young people in Britain? Maybe I am generalising but having gone into various schools and spoken to young people after doing workshops on healthy relationships, I am devastated by the surprise reaction when I am genuinely interested in what they think about themselves. The repetition of the words ‘I don’t really matter’ is devastating.
Whilst many adults see antisocial behaviour as a response to young people feeling they have ‘the right’ to do as they please, I find myself wondering if actually it is a reaction to their lack of self-worth which will surely only be worsened as their roots are further shaken when youth services are ripped up. [Emma Keeling]
One of the aims of the In Defence of Youth Work campaign is to offer ‘informal educational opportunities starting from young people’s concerns and interests’
We have been discussing the role of informal education in our Masters module (at Newman University College) and agree that youth work can happen at any time and in any place. The pressures on recording evidence and reaching targets, however, suggest that youth work needs to be measurable and visible results are needed to demonstrate successful work.
Is it possible for us to be successful practitioners in the eyes of the state while also meeting the needs of the young people who we care for? [Jon Pedley]