Thanks to Adam Muirhead for this  immediate and enlightening report on the recent celebratory event held at YMCA George Williams College. You must read it in full on his blog. My snippets will surely whet your appetite.

Mark Smith


He begins:

I recently attended the ‘100 Years of Youth and Community Work Education’ event hosted by the YMCA George Williams College and supported by Youth & Policy, UKYouth and TAG/PALYCW. The event came about off the back of Tony Jeffs recognising that on the 8th October 100 years ago, what he (and others) recognise as the first proper youth & community training programme came into being. For someone like me who enjoys a bit of Youth Work celebrity spotting this was a star-studded event! The great and the good of our profession and people I’ve been reading and quoting for years were present and ready to divulge their experience.

As well as Tony amongst the great and good contributing were such notables as Alan Gibson Tom Wylie, Marg Mayo and Mark Smith, the latter proclaiming evidently the death of youth work.

According to Adam, Mark went as far as to say that the key texts he developed for the profession under the umbrella of ‘Youth Work’ had been the equivalent of flogging a dead horse. So you can see why some people felt peeved.

Unbowed Adam ends by drinking a toast to the next 100 years of Youth and Community Work Education!

One comment

  1. I too was (un)fortunate to be at the event… fortunate in that I think it was well worth marking such an event and well done to Tony Jeffs for suggesting it (and Naomi Stanton and Lesley Buckland [and no doubt others] for pulling it together). It was illuminating to hear Alan’s first hand account of the early years of ‘Albemarle’ training courses, and Tom’s reflections of the Milson Fairbairn era… It was however with disquiet that I listened to Mark Smith’s bold claim that this was the end of youth work – and then to fail to hang around for the following discussion (without an explanation for his departure)… I did remark that I wasn’t aware I had been invited to attend a wake..! It seems rather strange to equate the English statutory youth service with youth work – clearly there are very strong connections but to assume they are one and the same is simply wrong – something exists akin to youth work across the whole of Europe – and bar Finland none (to my knowledge) has a statutory youth service. Clearly attempts are being made to erase youth work from our communities both by closing centres and redirecting workers. But we will continue to hang on by our finger tips to ensure youth work continues in some capacity – until a more favourable political climate – it is the least young people deserve…

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