Educate, agitate and organise – Malcolm Ball responds

Photo: Sushil Nash via Unsplash

Thanks to Lewisham youth worker and IDYW steering group member Malcolm Ball for this guest post, a response to a recent article by Bernard Davies on this site entitled ‘Young people, jobs and the impact of Covid 19‘, and a Guardian article by John Harris entitled: Now Britain stands at the crossroads: will we choose dread or hope? 

Malcolm writes:

Please read this piece by John Harris in the Guardian, alongside Bernard’s wonderful, incisive, sharp new piece on this site. The latter pulls together in Bernard’s classic, fair but critical approach, some policy ideas from across the spectrum on responses to on-going, structural, youth joblessness. It also comments and brings to the show a piece of evaluation on the impact/outcomes of the Government backed Youth Engagement Fund.

The evaluation, to it’s credit confirms what we already know/suspected about such schemes; for example the funding model; the focus on individual outcomes; the lack of explicit purpose are all unconducive to what we loosely, see as a more youth work approach.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean that nothing of merit is achieved. Despite the unsympathetic frameworks, models and outcome/individual change obsessions, for as we know young people value the support, engagement and the respect for their hopes and fears that many of the workers bring. This is despite the flaws in its conception and finance model. Let’s be clear these are, to use the phrase, unintended impacts/outcomes. They are by products rather than core to purpose.


Maybe we also should be clear, and sharp, that any policy/practice response to the myriad of crisis that young people and their communities will endure and/or be subject to, can only start from the basis of helping them to become who they need to be in a world they actively engage in creating.

The John Harris piece brings us to revisit the notion that we can decide collectively what kind of world we want to create, nurture and live in. It, at least, starts from the basis of what do we want and need, rather than what is the bare minimum we are offered and expected to accept, is possible.

As ever Educate, Agitate and Organise, for the kind of society we seek to build. Other Worlds are Possible: In Struggle.

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