Lockdown reading for youth workers, and a young activist event

Socially distanced youth work – thanks Youth Link Scotland / 6VT’s Cairn Service, see https://www.youthlinkscotland.org/news/september-2020/lockdown-digital-youth-work-and-the-new-normal/

A belated happy new year to our readers, for what it’s worth in these difficult times. We’ve been a bit quiet over the winter break – everyday life can be tiring and distracting, with all that’s going on for everyone in all of the different and related ways we each experience this pandemic. At times we have found it difficult to find the time and energy to put words on a page. We hope our readers are coping. Youth and community workers continue to do amazing work, as the recent designation of youth workers as ‘key workers’ recognised – we wonder what this means for workers on the ground (for good or for ill), and whether this recognition rings hollow when it has not been backed up with previously promised investment. It would be great to hear from you (through Facebook or by email, indefenceyw@gmail.com) if you have news or views to share, whether publicly or anonymously, on what it means to undertake critical, democratic, emancipatory youth work in this current context.

This post is simply to share a few reading recommendations for youth workers, and an event for young activists and youth workers (particularly those in Sheffield).

Youth work diaries during Covid: For a nuanced view of how youth workers have been experiencing the pandemic, we have been enjoying the series of articles by Janet Batsleer and colleagues coming out of the ‘community enquiry’, published by Youth and Policy. The most recent of these is entitled “Under many pressures: the beautiful small acts and everyday persistence of youth workers hanging about with young people“. We hear that another article from this project is on the way very soon.

Concept: The latest issue of Concept is highly recommended reading, as always. Concept is a free online ‘Journal of Contemporary Community Education Practice Theory’, with a focus on lively, critical debate and exchange of ideas around community work, adult education and youth work. All the articles are worth perusing as they are all highly relevant to youth and community workers. We’d particularly like to highlight ‘Informal Education as Freedom – re-considering youth and community work through a Capabilities Approach’, in which Frances Howard writes with two student researchers, Sarah Louise Livingstone and Summer Talbot. They argue that ‘our sector faces a problem; not in articulating youth and community work values but, instead, a battle against the deficit model of targeted and instrumentalised funding in the communities in which we work’. The writers propose the Capabilities Approach as ‘a way of acknowledging an assets-based position on young people and a human development approach to community development’.

Critically Chatting: We encourage all of our readers to read and subscribe to the Critically Chatting blog, in which Tony Taylor – the initiator of In Defence of Youth Work, and until recently our coordinator – muses ‘on the politics of youth work, community work and society at large’. Recent posts draw our attention to the writings of Martin Luther King, Bolton poet Teddy Ashton, and a 1981 post by Tony Taylor and Roy Ratcliffe in the Inner London Education Authority’s Schooling and Culture that resonates today: “Within the present political and economic climate the Youth Service is once again in depression. The future is clouded. However, crises are a recurrent feature of youth work’s recent history … Strategies of resistance are urgently needed.”

Storytelling and accountability: The IDYW storytelling method, which is documented on our sister website story-telling in youth work, is the focus of a new article on democratic, participatory visions of accountability by our IDYW steering group member Tania de St Croix, published in Pedagogy, Culture and Society. We hope to discuss this in article in more depth at some point. The article is currently behind a paywall but there’s no need to pay – Tania assures us that it will soon be available open access. In the meantime anyone wanting a copy can try this link for a free e-print, or – if that doesn’t work – email Tania.de_st_croix@kcl.ac.uk and she will send you a copy.

Young activist event in Sheffield: Finally, our friends at Chilypep invite our readers to an event organised by young activists in Gen Z: A Generation for Change. Throughout the 2020 lockdowns, they created a toolkit to support other young people to bring about social change on the things that matter to them. The online youth-led interactive workshop will launch and celebrate “Online Campaigning: Your guide to success”. Thursday 28th January, 5pm-6:30pm: booking details here.

Keep in touch… Do let us know if you have other articles and events you would like us to share with our critical youth work readership (contact us through the Facebook or by email: indefenceyw@gmail.com).

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