Thoughts from the Student Milieu – more please!

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 feel it is so important to support young people to flourish and develop in their own circumstances, choices and lifestyles. As they say, life is a journey and not a destination! As youth workers, we should enhance and protect this and gratefully to go on this journey with young people whether your support covers the whole of the young person’s journey or just a fraction. As a trainee youth worker, this is why I have entered into the practice; personally I shape my own projects within the community and believe in community development principles and no government should be able to influence this, but in practice they do. This is why youth workers analysis their own ethics and practice. This is why we have been examining this today in the lecture with Pauline and questioning what respect means. It means very different things to different people, but I believe it is about forging a relationship with young people and becoming a mentor when this relationship ends, then the mentor should do this gradually and just leave a young person’s life. A good mentor can do this professionally, but deliver it in a personal way. This is what the government should be taking into consideration when training up people within the children’s and young people’s workforce rather than focusing on accredited outcomes. A skilled youth worker knows how to navigated the system, get funding and run projects, but ultimately benefit the young people that they want to benefit using a highly thoughtful and professional workforce style.  [ Ceri Davies]
 I have recently started my MA in Youth and Community Work and I find the issues discussed to be quite fascinating and indeed true. The values and core ideologies of youth work are increasingly blurred and we are conflicted by trying to keep them alive and between the so called prescribed outcomes we should adhere to. The sight of what is really important seems to have been lost. It’s a sad yet familiar story…keep up the good work government! [Amneet]

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]



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