My sincere apologies for the belated appearance of these stimulating notes from the London IDYW regional meeting – entirely my fault.
The last London IDYW meeting explored the idea of ‘spaces’ in youth work. We started by identifying the types of shared spaces we work in and the vast number of issues this can bring about, from issues of time and equipment to safeguarding concerns and the ‘stigma of space’. This raised some fundamental questions around what would make something a ‘youth specific’ space then, and if detached youth work was able to create spaces, or if youth work was about the relationships within ‘any’ space. If youth work is about the relationships, then the quality of the space shouldn’t matter, but there are pros and cons of having a homely ‘lower quality’ youth space versus a flashy new place to work.
We discussed what could be considered youth work, in any space, and closed by attempting to identify how youth workers could share spaces and work in partnership while maintaining professional integrity. We concluded here that youth workers needed to be more pro-active about owning the terms of the relationship and space use. We need to remember that we have some power in these negotiations, other agencies often need us to deliver the numbers and interactions they need to secure their funding, so we should be clear about out terms of engagement from the start. We discussed what would be some good principles to agree to before commencing a partnership:
– That the young people’s engagement must be voluntary
– That we do not function to ‘report back’ and monitor attendance or engagement (or more likely non-engagement) where it may result in adverse consequences for young clients
– Anti-oppressive principles underpinning work (no racism etc)
We decided that the next meeting will further explore the idea of positive partnerships for youth work, and will have a 2 hour reflection space and a 1 hour space to develop solutions. We’d love to see more workers from London attend! Date – to be confirmed.
Detailed briefing notes – well worth exploring