The In Defence March 2014 Mailing


Find below the mailing, which has been sent to all those on our contact list. If you want to be added to the list, just drop a note to I think the mailing is especially useful to folk, who are not avid visitors to the web or indeed folk, who have hardly a spare minute! Hopefully from now on there will be a monthly digest of this sort to keep people in the picture.

For a Democratic and Emancipatory Education

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[ Before anything else we must apologise if you do not wish to receive this mailing. We’ve just finished a trawl through all our contacts in an attempt to draw up an accurate mailing list. If we have made a mistake with regard to yourself, simply respond with a firm ‘No’ and you will be removed immediately. Thanks for your patience.]

Five years have passed since our Campaign saw the light of day. Inevitably circumstances change. Thus we have drafted a Provisional Statement of Purpose for discussion in the run up to and at our national conference. In addition Bernard Davies has drawn up a supporting paper, ‘Campaigning in Young People’s Interests’.  We would appreciate your comments and criticisms.

Our national conference, ‘The Future of Youth Work? The Future of the Campaign?‘ is to be held on Thursday, April 10 in Leeds, where we will be taking a breath.‘Where are we up to? What are the prospects for youth work in the coming period?’  Keynote speakers will be Janet Batsleer and Howard Sercombe. The explanatory flyer is attached. Please circulate widely as you think fit.

Our focus on story-telling as a method of reflection, analysis and evaluation continues. We are running workshops again in 2014 – see ‘An Offer not to be Missed’ and get back to us if your agency/institution is interested. Blackpool, Plymouth, Ruskin and Coventry are already in the pipeline. A working group is exploring the possibility, even probability of a Stories Book Two – more news soon. Meanwhile the interest shown in our Story-telling escapades across the continent has led us to make a funding bid to host a European ‘Stories’ conference, hopefully in the late summer/early autumn – again watch this space.

We continue to prioritise building links with fellow travellers. At the beginning of March we contributed to a conference on the ‘State of Education’ organised by the Radical Education Forum and Libertarian Education. A notable moment in the proceedings saw young people talking about their formal education – see ‘Do schools respect human rights?’ – and the emergence of an independent young people’s campaign, ‘UPRISE’. Immediately after our own conference we head off to be involved in the Social Work Action Network gathering, ‘Social Work in a Cold Climate’, which will be held in Durham, April 11/12. We will be talking about ‘Troublesome Youth : Troubled Services’ and running a workshop led by young people resisting the cuts. We hope that many youth and community workers will join us there. Much further afield we have been inspired by an invitation to be involved in what is described as a crucial moment in the defence of youth work practice in Queensland, Australia – see ‘Get Ready to tackle the Big Issues’.

Closer to home a rejigged web site has met with approval, throwing up in particular a thought-provoking exchange on the relationship between the professional and the voluntary sectors – Dissenting Thoughts. Whilst from Blackpool we’ve received illuminating thoughts from the first guest blog of Adam Hawes on youth work’s identity and from across the waters in New York, courtesy of Dana Fusco, an account of  the Accordion Effect, the squeezing of quality by diktat from above. upon community based after-schools programmes. Our Facebook page goes from strength to strength with over 1250 followers feeling free to post an eclectic range of links and issues.

We will be looking to hold a couple of Engaging Critically seminars in the early summer. Themes being considered are ‘The Contradictions of Professionalisation’ and in returning inevitably to the outcomes agenda, ‘Resistance rather than Resilience’.

As we write news of further cuts to youth work across the country becomes almost an every day occurrence. Against this background our campaign will continue to play its part, alongside the unions, in the resistance organised through Choose Youth. Given our resources our focus will remain on catalysing critical debate and fostering networks of support – on keeping the flame of a distinctive practice alive. Amidst all the stress and strain we hope you will find a little time and energy to join with us.

Hope we might see you at conference – contact Tony at to book a place.

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