Thanks to the good offices of the Youth and Community folk at the Leeds Metropolitan University, particularly Alan Smith, our 2014 conference took place in the corporate splendour of the top floor Lewis Jones Suite in the Leeds Carnegie Stadium. At first we were a bit taken aback by the luxury, but to be honest as the day wore on we became ever more comfortable. The room was light and airy and the staff most accommodating. And as Helen Gatenby commented ruefully in her presentation, ” if you get bored with my spiel, you can always enjoy the view across the towering trees and terracotta roofs of Headingley or indeed watch the Leeds Rhinos training!” Or summat like that!
In the morning session over 60 supporters were challenged and entertained by two contrasting presentations focused on the ‘Future of Youth Work’ from our keynote speakers, Howard Sercombe and Janet Batsleer. Whilst in the afternoon we were stimulated by six very different contributions exploring the hopes and fears of life on the ground – the young people from Paul Hogan’s Liverpool project on what youth work has meant for them: Tania de St Croix on the autonomy provided by being a voluntary project; Helen Gatenby on still making spaces on the streets; Aston Wood on the dilemas of management in the midst of austerity; Kev Jones on the undermining of the true meaning of Social Action; and Malcolm Ball/Pauline Grace on the opportunities afforded by being involved in Europe. As ever lively debate ensued.
In the closing session we discussed the draft Statement of Purpose and a number of minor amendments were suggested. A couple of these, underlining the importance of critical practice and the necessity of forming local IDYW campaigning groups have been incorporated. However the concensus is that the Statement should be seen as a working document, a guide, but still open to debate. Thus it can now be found on its own page, IDYW Statement 2014 – see the header of our site. It can also be downloaded and circulated, which we would encourage.
Hopefully we will be posting written versions of some of the contributions in the coming weeks.
Once again thanks to all who attended and kept alive our critical and dissenting spirit.