The ‘clipped wing generation’ or ‘extended adolescence’

Further to our post on single mums fighting for the right to social housing in London more evidence of the way in which the lack of affordable housing sees young people trapped at home, still living with their parents.

The ‘clipped wing generation’: A quarter of young working adults still live with their parents – Home News – UK – The Independent.

Why we need more social housing – SHELTER report.

The Madness of Militarism : What’s that got to do with Youth Work and Young People?

Ta to convergence

Ta to convergence


The refrain that we should keep politics out of youth work is familiar, if jaded. Both politicians and senior managers are often to be heard talking sentimentally about ‘young people being the future’. Yet the moment we raise the inextricable relationship between the prospects for young people and the spectres of unemployment, poverty, environmental catastrophe- and to acknowledge two recent posts, the lack of social housing in the UK and the violent carnage in Gaza – these apologists for the status quo scuttle back into a compartmentalised existence. Theirs is a self-centred world, within which young people are to blame for their precarious predicament, lacking skills, failing to match up to requirements. The solution is that age-old cliche. Young people must pull their socks up and stand on their own two feet, be ‘resilient’. And this weary exhortation is from folk, who claim to be new and innovative in their thinking!  Evidently the dilemmas faced by young people [and indeed most of us in one way or another] have nothing to do with what the Pope calls ‘a savage capitalism’. Evidently young people’s hopes float free from a society in which schools and hospitals are closed in the name of austerity or under a hail of mind-numbingly expensive bombs.

In an article,

Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan

Henry Giroux focuses on the impact of a militarist ideology on  American culture and society.

Informed by a kind of primitive tribalism, militarism enshrines a deadly type of masculinity that mythologizes violence and mimics the very terrorism it claims to be fighting. Militarism and war have not only changed the nature of the political order but the nature and character of American life.

We live in a time in which political illiteracy and moral tranquilization work in tandem to produce the authoritarian subject, willing to participate in their own oppression and the oppression of others. Thus, the silence over filling our prisons with poor people of color, treating desperate immigrant children as if they were vermin, and allowing elected officials to replace reason with forms of militant religious fundamentalism. What kind of moral arrangements does a society give up when there is no outrage over the fact that the United States supplies billions of dollars in armaments to other states and thus is complicit in the killing of young children and others through acts of state terrorism?

Militarism is a new form of illiteracy and psychosis, symptomatic of the failure of civic courage because it demands obedience and punishes people who are critical, capable of questioning authority, and are willing to address important social issues.

Of course you do not need to share Henry Giroux’s analysis. To what extent is it applicable to the UK and so on? But it seems to me he poses unavoidable questions for anyone, who claims to be committed to social justice, to peace, to democracy, to a future. For my part I don’t think this is a time for youth workers to bury their heads in the suffocating sands of  imposed conformity and prescribed outcomes, to do as they are told. It is a time to look outwards, to embrace collective thinking and activity, to gain strength from solidarity. It is time to be – what we claim to be – critically reflective practitioners.


Focus E15 Mothers, a group of young single mums, fighting for their right to social housing.

Focus E15 mothers 2

A couple of extracts from Prymface’s report in the Telegraph.

Nearly 100 people gathered on Central Park in East Ham the other week. They then proceeded to walk through the streets with banners and placards and drums and microphones. Men and women, young and old, black and white, were marching together in solidarity. No police were needed. No trouble was caused. But their presence was definitely known. The march was led by Focus E15 Mothers, a group of young single mums, who lived in the Foyer, the UK’s largest hostel for homeless young people in London, until the Government cuts for their support forced their eviction. Last year they were served with notices to quit by the East Thames Housing Association.

They were referred to Newham council and were told look for private rented accommodation in Manchester, Hastings and Birmingham, miles away from the support they had in their local area and from where they were bringing their children up. This was after they were told to scour Newham and London – but due to the shortage of affordable accommodation in the capital, they were advised they “may have to look outside of the capital”.

Thanks to Private Eye and  Lorna Miller

Thanks to Private Eye and Lorna Miller

Young mums are often accused of having a baby to “get a house” and so there is an unspoken concern that if vulnerable mothers were actually provided with affordable stable housing then teenage pregnancy rates would go through the roof. But we need to start looking beyond myths and stereotypes.

Girls don’t get pregnant on their own. It takes two to tango. Many have suffered abuse and violence. For lots of these women, being a mum is a chance to turn their lives around, take control and to focus on their future.

But if all they face are barriers, and if all their aspirations are ignored then how can we call ourselves a civilised society? Many of the Focus E15 Mothers were vulnerable, but living in their hostel had started local college courses, built support networks and most importantly, their children were all settled in schools. These want a better future for their family. And that is why they are fighting back, asking for social housing in the area where they and their children feel safe and settled. They started campaigning nearly a year ago and will continue until someone listens. Stable and secure housing should be a basic universal right, just like healthcare, not a luxury for the privileged few.


FOCUS E15 MOTHERS Facebook page

Including the Invisible : LGBT Awareness, August 4

LGBT NW logo







VIP – ‘LGBT Awareness’

Greater Manchester Youth Network

Monday, August 4, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Moss Side Powerhouse
140 Raby St
Moss Side
M14 4SQ 

LGBT Youth North West bring over 35 years of experience of LGBT youth work and diversity training to deliver ‘Including the Invisible’. This training will support you to understand, meet and integrate the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people in all work with young people.

Event details and Tickets

Follow In Defence of Youth Work – click on the widget


Chatting to few folk over the weekend it became apparent that they hadn’t understood that if you click on the turquoise-blue ‘Following In Defence of Youth Work’ widget/icon in the right hand column – just below the Association/Conversation images –  you get an e-mail reminder whenever a new post appears on our site. Obviously it’s not for everyone, given the business of most e-mail trays, but it is useful if you are inclined to keep up-to-date on our musings.

Gaza Youth Speak Out : Enough is Enough!

London Gaza demo

The group, Gaza Youth Break Out [GBYO], unfailingly brave in their criticisms of both Fatah and Hamas within Palestinian politics, send a message of anguish in the face of the Israeli assault.

We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of these feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want!

With Sinking Hearts : Open Letter to Lisa Nandy, Shadow Minister for Civil Society

Our friends at the National Coalition for Independent Action have circulated the following Open Letter to Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Minister for Civil Society.

NCIA logo


OPEN LETTER to Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Minister for Civil Society

17th July 2014


Dear Lisa,


I write on behalf of the National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA). We met with you last December, to talk about the state of voluntary action, in all its shapes, from large national professionally-based services right through to small local volunteer groups and campaign activists. You agreed with us then, that the authentic voice of independent voluntary action had been silenced by funding regimes; and how you wished to change the culture that had led to this. We had disagreements: you thought it’s okay to privatise some public services into the voluntary sector. We don’t. Despite this, we thought that you brought a fresh and enquiring eye to the tired politics that now forms a gulf between the government and civil society. As hardened cynics, we left hopeful.


We have now read the Labour Party agenda for us, One Nation Labour: renewing our bonds with the third sector, and felt our hearts sink.


The document is an entirely technocratic expression of ‘business as usual’. There is no recognition of the breadth and diversity of voluntary action, whether or not formally constituted, with or without charitable objects, providing services or not. Instead your preoccupation is with the small proportion of voluntary agencies which provide services through paid staff and managed volunteers. Most civil society groups are not of this ilk. They are set up to provide mutual benefits to their members, friends and neighbours, to campaign on local issues, to enjoy company, leisure and other activities.  This heart of civil society does not need Compacts to “govern relations with government”, is not “a sector” and like all voluntary associations are ‘owned’ by the volunteers and activists who set them up and maintain their existence.  For the Labour Party to start with a section called ‘volunteers’, as if these are essentially unpaid fodder to be deployed by managers and professionals, is starting in completely the wrong place.

There is no mention in your document of the current climate of cuts and austerity, the corrupt politics and unequal power relations that are present, the xenophobia, the hostility towards those who have little and the demonization of benefit claimants , the pressures on individuals and communities and the democratic role of voluntary action to stand up to these attacks. There is nothing about how government, and now the private sector attempts to co-opt the spirit and self determination of people to organise around their own issues. There is nothing about comprehensive and accountable public services and how voluntary services augment not substitute for this. There is no heart or soul. And there is certainly no change of culture offered.


Instead we read a list of “One Nation Labour” interests. We read phrases such as “Labour believes charities have an important role to play in the delivery of public services” and you ask us how we can become better contractors to the State, and how our umbrella groups can help us do this. You are interested in volunteers and workers, but there is no mention of the beneficiaries and communities which bring people to voluntary work. You want us to “grow and thrive” – no doubt, in order to pick up the pieces of future Labour public services privatisation programmes. You ask us, “what regulations and standards should apply to third party campaigning? And who should enforce them?” We wonder why you would want to muzzle the action of independent self-organising groups, and how this can be different from the gagging law which you say you will repeal.


The message we take is: Labour will do just the same as the Tories but hope to do it better. Is this really what you want to say to us?


To say we are disappointed would be an understatement and we can only presume that the Labour Party hierarchy has now set you on this path. At NCIA, we are launching the results of our Inquiry into the Future of Voluntary Services. If you and your colleagues want to join us on an alternative route for voluntary action, you know where to find us. We will be happy to pick up a real conversation.


Penny Waterhouse



Open Letter to Lisa Nandy