VOLUNTARY and COMMUNITY SECTOR – IN DEFENCE BUSINESS AND GOSSIP
In the last few days we’ve received a couple of challenging comments from workers in the voluntary sector. Youthworkerpete in questioning whether we need a separate category of post for the ‘voluntary and community sector’ wondered,
I suppose I’m asking whether the ‘powers that be’ in IDYW think that the voluntary sector are under-represented or at risk of marginalisation in the movement? Are their specific and different needs compared to the statutory sector? Does this imply the movement is (or has been) particularly focussing on statutory youth work or consider it the ‘default’?
My sensitivity with this comes purely from some recent personal experiences when statutory workers (currently facing redundancy – so understandably disgruntled) talk as if the voluntary sector are the ‘bad guys’, somehow ‘the enemy’, when we’ve been working alongside the statutory sector for many years. I’m just concerned we may be accidentally walking into a ‘divide and conquer’ tactic by creating false dichotomies.
Whilst Tony Ransley, frustrated by the lack of response to his concerns on Children and Young People Now about the Institute of Youth Work and a supposed identity crisis amongst professionals, has turned his attention to our Campaign, asking,
Why should anyone from the voluntary sector join a campaign to defend Youth Work when Youth Work as we know it is not under any threat ?
I am a group scout leader working with a team consisting of retired civil servants, fork lift truck drivers, builders, sales personnel, students and young people not in employment or education to deliver youth work to young people in our vibrant multi-cultural community.
None of of us expect payment for this activity and our engagement with young people is therefore truly voluntary, in that neither they nor us have to engage unless we want to. This principle of voluntary engagement also prevents any coercion from on high as our mortgages car loans etc do not depend on the approval of line managers..
Our group consists of 60 young people between the ages of 6 and 18 of which 30 are over the age of 13. We deliver a minimum of 48 weeks youth work and three residentials a year raising the £3000 needed from the local community.
None of this is under threat what appears to be in danger is the ‘Professional Youth Services’ and the supporting university infrastructure.
Given that support for our young people from our local youth service consists of a half hour visit once every ten years and that people appear to able to gain an MA in Youth Work and still think that the entire voluntary sector contributes nothing more to young peoples lives than ‘playing a few games’ Why on earth would anyone want to defend it?
What do supporters think? Has the campaign failed to recognise seriously the significance of the voluntary youth sector? Is the JNC qualified worker dismissive of the contribution made by a voluntary sector, which is rich in its diversity? Has the Coalition’s ‘Big Society’ rhetoric, coupled with relentless cuts, soured relations on the ground?
Your thoughts welcomed.