Hello from the new editors of the In Defence of Youth Work website! As our more assiduous followers will have picked up, Tony Taylor is taking a backseat for the time being, and the rest of us IDYW steering group members and supporters have (finally) had to step up! We will see how this goes in reality over the next few months. We know that Tony’s voice as IDYW coordinator and the author of this website will be hugely missed, not only because of the enormous amount of vision, time and energy he put into the role, but also because of his particular insight, wisdom, and acerbic critique.
How do we follow that? Well, nobody can replace Tony – and we won’t even attempt it. IDYW won’t have a coordinator for the time being. Instead we are sharing out the tasks. We are not entirely saying goodbye – we are hoping Tony will write guest posts from time to time, and he still has his login, so maybe he’ll continue to share news when he gets a chance.
Who’s doing the website now, then? A small group of IDYW steering group members and supporters will be looking after the website. Initially, at least, we are remaining anonymous. We’d be interested in any reflections on the pros and cons of this, and will reflect on how it goes (both running the website in general and being anonymous in particular) in due course. It’s not that we want to be secretive – but we think anonymity may enable to speak freely (without concern for what our employers might think). Perhaps it could also be useful in relation to showing IDYW as the collective endeavour it has always been. On the other hand, we may miss the personal touch; and perhaps there is something less accountable about not knowing whose words you are reading. Yet it’s not as if everything will be anonymous – we will continue to carry attributed pieces by our steering group members, supporters, and like-minded folk, alongside the general anonymised contributions. And if it doesn’t work – we’ll think again!
What’s going to change? We’re not planning on making any big changes or grand statements, and we’re not interested in ‘rebranding’, as if we were some kind of new corporate manager wanting to put our own stamp on things. In any case, we’re busy working, squeezing IDYW work amongst the rest of our lives. In many ways we will just have to experiment as we go, and see what works. We hope to continue to bring stories from practice, views from the field, news and events – and running throughout all of this, a variety of critical perspectives on the policy and practice of youth work.
Do contact us if you have anything you’d like us to share – we have a new group email address, and we’d prefer you use this instead of emailing Tony (just to give him a bit of a break!) – firstname.lastname@example.org. But please be patient as we all get used to the new arrangements.
Finally – in the spirit of sharing perspectives from across the IDYW ‘family’, Colin Brent (youth worker and IDYW story-telling facilitator, supporter, and former steering group member) has written a cracking article for Youth and Policy, in which he shares stories from practice in an insightful and powerful reflection on the impact of open access youth work:
… the most common, most interesting, and maybe even the most impactful element of my work is in supporting young people not merely to ‘tether’ themselves to something else, but to hack out a space of their own within this maelstrom, a fluid and changeable space, still full of contradictions, but more confidently so…