IDYW 7th National Conference, September 30 : Blurring the Boundaries? Re-Imagining Youth Work?

blurring boundaries

Another instance of lousy timing, given folk are probably looking to leave work behind them for a few weeks at least, but advance notice of our 7th IDYW conference.

Back in April we postponed our national conference as a number of other broad initiatives were on the go, notably by UK Youth, TAG and Choose Youth. We said at the time that we hoped our rearranged conference would keep the debate about the future alive and ongoing.  In this spirit we are holding our event on Friday, September 30 in Birmingham. Our provisional title focuses on two intertwined questions, ‘Blurring the Boundaries?’ and ‘Re-Imagining Youth Work? In particular we want to engage with the criticism that IDYW’s insistence on the primacy of the voluntary relationship and the distinctiveness of the youth work setting is in danger of being ‘a destructive force that places unnecessary constraints upon practice’ [Coburn and Gormally, 2016].

We are inviting a mix of national and local contributors, who, we hope, will reflect a diversity of opinion and initiative, together with illustrating the changing economy of youth work. More details to follow.

We hope you will put the date in your diary, knowing that this will be a rare opportunity both to argue the toss and meet up in a supportive, yet questioning atmosphere with committed workers from across the country.


  1. In taking on Jon Ord’s view in voluntary participation not being an essential I was sceptical, he made use of working with young people attending PRU Schools as an example of this. I have been working with young people attending PRU schools for a few years , sometimes effectively and other times not so. Although I see outcomes in all youth work even if it appears to be chaotic,
    challenging etc if youth work principles are made use of.
    An opportunity arose after Christmas to start new PRU projects . My colleague and I discussed the lack of true voluntary
    participation. We felt relationship was even more important without voluntary
    With this in mind we started the project slowly one to one sessions with young people to discuss our approach as youth workers, we are not teachers etc. Then visits to the youth centre in two’s. Having an opportunity to build relationships with young people, develop an understanding of a distinct youth work approach, something not many young people have not experienced .
    It’s work in progress but seems an effective way of overcoming the lack of voluntary participation .

  2. Anthony – forgive me for not replying earlier. Simply to say I hope you can make the conference to explore your experience and perspective further.

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