It’s National Youth Work Week : Would you know that the neo-liberal assault on young people [and youth work] continues?

end war on youth

It’s National Youth Work Week. The National Youth Agency calls on us to celebrate. It tries to convince us that its theme ‘Skills for Life’ is innovative. Thatcher’s Manpower Services Commission tried it on over thirty years ago and was repelled in the name of social awareness and education. In the corporate heart of London the second ‘Creative Collisions’ conference claims to be ‘Uniting the Youth Sector’ and ‘Uniting for Young People’.

For the moment a few questions for the Youth Sector propaganda machine

1. As you celebrate and unite the devastation of local youth services continues apace. Links simply from the past week or so.

Protestors rally against cuts to Dudley Youth Service

The fight for Castlegate continues – the provision of holistic support and counselling for 16 – 25 years in York.

Campaigning to keep the Youth Fund – Following the extermination of the Manchester Youth Service, Voluntary Youth Manchester battles to retain funding for 40 plus voluntary youth organisations.

plus the ongoing 38 Degrees petition

Protect Services for Young People

What is your unifying message?

2. As you celebrate and unite for young people  –   message for your marketing folk, uniting with young people would have been more in tune with a distinctive youth work tradition, but what would they know? – you’ve a bit of a problem, which is not resolved by young people being entrepreneurial. For the past two decades successive governments have consciously worsened the situation faced by young people, eroding their rights and opportunities. And so it goes on. A few links again from the past few weeks.

Long-term youth unemployment still going up

40% of Job Seeker Allowance sanctions hit young people

Youth Fight for Jobs – pressure mounts on zero hour contracts

Under 30’s being priced out of the UK says social mobility tsar

Welfare reform reinforces growing class prejudice reminiscent of Victorian era

Wouldn’t Uniting for, indeed with, Young People mean campaigning explicitly against government policies, rather than colluding with the Cabinet Office launch of a Centre for Youth Impact?

Enough for now, IDYW people will be at Creative Collisions and will be reporting back to our seminar in Birmingham on Friday, November 7. Perhaps our questions will be answered. We’ll let you know our reactions next week.



  1. Whilst I don’t necessarily disagree with what Tony says here, if we apply Lewin’s Forcefield Analysis to the situation, he suggests strengthening the positive drivers rather than trying to reduce or eliminate the negative drivers. Of course, this depends on what you see as the positive or negative drivers but would imply running with this as the only developmental agenda we have access to in order to build influence and establish credibility. We live in a rapidly changing world where young people are already at the bottom of the pile, with no one being listened to whether they be a young person or a youth work professional. Surely the worst thing to do at this time is to decline a seat at the only table that exists?

  2. Thanks, Jane for your much appreciated comments. I’m not familiar with Lewin, but am used to being seen as negative, simply on the basis of being critical. Thus, as you say, there is a debate about what constitutes a positive or negative drive. Leave that aside I don’t think IDYW is declining a seat at the table. Would we even receive an invitation? And who is doing the inviting? We would be very happy to turn up!

    • Hi Tony, Piers Telemacque at the Nat Union of Students (NUS) has commited to leading a push to join as many voices & organisations together to lobby gov re cuts to services for yp. He ran after Rob Wilson (Min for Civ Soc) at the Creative Collisions confused cos he was so incensed that he was leaving without taking questions! Suggest that IDYW could join in too? As TAG, I’ve already offered our support- he can be contacted through NUS site or on Twitter @pierschickenboy

  3. Jane – As you can see from today’s post on the site Piers came to our IDYW meeting last Friday. Hence we are publicising the motion, encouraging people to pressure MP’s and will be organising an event with other partners, we hope, to explore in more depth different models of funding etc… I have to say the motion is explicitly in favour of a return to a form of statutory provision rather than just a lobby against cuts. In terms of making alliances this poses dilemmas for such as NYA, NCVYS, who have embraced the market model and withdrew from Choose Youth because of its Manifesto commitment to a statutory service. Clearly an interesting scenario is unfolding and we will participate as fully as is possible, along with TAG and hopefully others.

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