On Being Committed to Youth Work : An Open Letter to Jason Pandya-Wood
In a recent piece in Children and Young People Now, expert challenges youth workforce’s commitment to protecting services, Jason Pandya-Wood, Head of Sociology at Nottingham Trent University and a former youth worker, “fears that youth workers are partly to blame for the widespread streamlining of services”. Being he says self-critical he goes on to argue, “I don’t think youth workers have done nearly enough to stand up for what youth work can be about, what it does for young people and why it should be protected.”
Sociologically speaking this seems simplistic. Politically speaking it seems to be missing a thing or two. Hence I’ve dropped the following note to Jason in the hope he might join us at our conference and explore the issues in more depth.
Having read your expert analysis of the situation facing youth work and youth services on CYPN I must beg to differ. Of course there is a question mark over how youth workers have responded to the assault on youth work as a distinctive practice. However at the very least the predicament is suffused with contradiction. It is difficult ‘to promote the importance’ of your service – to take but a few examples – when you have been made redundant or you are being intimidated for raising your voice or indeed when you have been transformed against your wishes into a youth social worker.
Nevertheless there have been significant efforts to resist the neo-liberal onslaught. Although it appears the existence and efforts of the Choose Youth Alliance or the In Defence of Youth Work [IDYW] campaign have passed you by. As it happens the IDYW is holding its fifth national conference in Leeds this coming Thursday, April 10, its theme ‘The Future of Youth Work? The Future of the Campaign’. As coordinator of this campaign I’d like to invite you to join us in critical debate and collective commitment along with our keynote speakers Janet Batsleer and Howard Sercombe plus a rich diversity of practitioners.