Engaging Critically : Dates for your diaries




The desire to redefine what we mean by youth work continues unabated. Of course it is crass to claim that definitions of an idea or a body of practice should be fixed and eternal. Circumstances and perspectives change. This has clearly been the case across the last three decades of neo-liberalism – see Henry Giroux’s explanation. However any process of change in a supposed democratic society ought to be transparent and contested. Within youth work such an open and pluralist exchange of opinion has been largely absent. In the main the senior management of the sector has sought compliance rather than criticism.

Take the National Youth Agency, it heads up the drive to an Institute of Youth Work, but fudges within the consultation the direct dilemma of what constitutes youth work in 2013. Meanwhile it sets up a Commission into the relationship between youth work and formal education, which determines beforehand that all manner of in-school interventions are to be deemed youth work. Its ‘independent’ Chair, Tim Loughton, is on record as being utterly comfortable with the rebranding of what youth workers do – so long as it suits the agenda of privatisation and commissioning. Furthermore the NYA hails the unremarkable addition of fund-raising skills and working with families modules to a revamped Derby University course as illustrating that the institution is ‘ahead of the field’. The Leader of the course warns, “we’re not saying we have to wave goodbye to traditional youth work, but we’re saying good youth work has to happen where young people are.” At the very least the seductive notion of ‘where young people are’ needs some serious exploration.

Against this background our Campaign reaffirms its commitment to encouraging the widest possible argument about what’s happening to youth work today. Thus, alongside the continuing relevance of our Stories Workshops, we are embarking on a series of seminars, ‘Engaging Critically’, whilst at the same time giving our wholehearted support to other initiatives bent on questioning the status quo. We do so in the spirit of youth work’s claim to be reflective and self-critical in theory and practice.


Introducing – The Spark: Learn. Connect. Create. June 10-15th at the 3space Hub, Blackfriars

Susanna Hunter-Darch, Fionn Greig and Derek Oakley are running two workshops – on Wednesday afternoon, June 12, Creating space for young people in economic crisis and on Friday morning, June 14, Youth Worker Activists! Learn, Share, Collaborate! https://www.facebook.com/events/192666474217458/?ref=3

Community Sector Coalition Starfish Event in Manchester’s Bridge 5 Mill, Tuesday, June 11 from 12.00 – 2.00 p.m.

Led by Matt Scott speaking to the new NCIA pamphlet, ‘Here We Stand’. http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/3581657835/?ref=enivtefor001&invite=MzQ2NjU0OS96YWlrb25pa0Bza3kuY29tLzA%3D&utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=inviteformalv2&utm_term=attend&ref=enivtefor001#

IDYW Engaging Critically – Threatening Youth Work : The Illusion of Outcomes at Bolton University on Friday, June 14 from 1.30 – 3.30 p.m.

To book a place, contact P.Connaughton@bolton.ac.uk

IDYW Engaging Critically – Advancing Youth Work in Times of Austerity : A Transatlantic conversation with Dana Fusco at the UNISON Centre, London on Wednesday, June 19 from 1.30 – 4.30 p.m.

To book a place contact Tony Taylor at tonymtaylor@gmail.com

Cooperative Education against the Crises at the Manchester Metropolitan University Didsbury Campus on Thursday, July 4 from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Co- hosted by the Education and Social Research Institute and the Cooperative College this event will see Prof. Mike Apple present his ‘Interrupting the Right’ thesis – that the Right wasn’t always so powerful and the left could learn from its rise to dominance and take practical action.  Then Mervyn Wilson from the Co-op College will ask whether the Co-operative school movement provides a vehicle for interrupting the right and developing an education system that will be adequate to meet the crises we face.

The event website is available at: http://www.coopedagainstthecrises.org

IDYW Engaging Critically – Ethics and Politics in Youth Work to be held in Birmingham, Tuesday, November 5.

By the Autumn it is likely that a Code of Ethics will emerge from the move to an Institute of Youth Work. However, whilst there is much talk about what constitutes ethical practice, to speak of politics is to raise many a furrowed brow. And yet, how can ethics float free of politics? More information soon.

The Federation for Detached Youth Work Annual Conference, Skills from the Street, at the High Leigh conference centre, Hoddesden from November 15 – 17.

Further details at http://www.detachedyouthwork.info/conference.htm

We look forward to being involved with you in a lively dialogue in the coming months. And please let us know if you are organising events consistent with the critical spirit expressed here.

One comment

  1. You mention in this article that a university course is including fund raising skills in their curriculum. You appear to treat this with derision. As a recent Youth Work student at Sheffield Hallam University I think this is a good idea, and would like to have done some work on this. It may not be exciting or pushing the boundaries of youth work, but money and where to get it from is an important thing. Not many people can afford to work for free!

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