Jane Melvin explores the contradictory agendas besetting youth work today

Further to Tania’s reflections on the Centre for Youth Impact meeting on June 30, find below a thought-provoking contribution to the ongoing debate by Jane Melvin of the University of Brighton and Chair of TAGPALCYW – in the form of a blog and Powerpoint presentation.


These two excerpts give you a flavour of her concerns. Read in full at Lost in Translation

There is a suggestion that youth workers are against the idea of measuring impact and indeed, can’t measure impact adequately. This is not so. Youth workers have always been able to measure impact and have always been able to talk about this. The problem is that they don’t use the positivisit, objectivist language that decision-makers and funders want to hear. Decision-makers and funders want to hear about groups of young people and how the problems have been solved. Youth workers want to talk about the individual what has been achieved in terms of learning, growth and personal and emotional development. Where there is conflict it is where the solution-focused evaluation doesn’t match the problem-centred criteria. There is no congruence. 

The problem with the way that  this agenda is approached is in the way that we talk about it and the language that is used. Within this young people have ceased to be individuals with their whole lives in front of them, and  they have been reduced to are ‘projects’, targeted groups, NEETs, & those who have only passed their GCSE’s this year because they were easier than the the exams of the year before. The language  problematises young people and works from a deficit model where they are seen only for their defects not for their strengths.

And if possible follow her blog in conjunction with the slide presentation, which as a bonus defines those oft-mysterious and off-putting notions of ontology and methodology!


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