In recent months it has become more and more apparent that we are facing something of a crisis in youth work. Although I do need to remind myself that back in 1981 I was involved in organising a conference in Manchester,’Youth Work and the Crisis’! Nevertheless we are facing a qualitative shift in how youth work is funded and provided. In this light it’s great to hear voices from the ground, articulating what’s going on and how it is impacting on young people.
I have been a youth worker for over 10 years but for the last six years I’ve had to become a coach, tutor, assessor, youth and community worker, mediator, advocate, administrator, finance office and fundraiser in order to sustain the work we do.
Amongst the points she makes:
The struggle for funding for grassroots groups who help the most vulnerable is a tragedy. Funding is eaten up by local authorities and large charities which then ask grassroots groups for voluntary help in engaging the underrepresented groups they are failing. Having a voice on a wider stage seems insignificant if you can’t even be heard in your local community. Local young people have developed a youth forum (The Good Youth Forum) to highlight and discuss local issues affecting their everyday lives after securing funding from Trust For London. It’s a platform for them to explore the world from their perspective, explore changes they would like to happen and developing strategies to affect change. Young people need that space and freedom to explore theirs and others worlds, to express their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs and to feel empowered to contribute towards change.
At a time when there is a drive for the ‘de-professionalisation’ of our roles, a cut in our funding and an increase in demand for our services the same need for resilience, the need to develop coping strategies and the need to adapt in change we hope to see in our young people is something we need to develop as professionals. Keeping the faith is going to be the biggest challenge for all!