The original IDYW logo


At our very first national conference in 2009, Janet Batsleer welcomed us to an ‘unauthorised space’. Her eloquent words ring down through the years.

In Defence of Youth Work as a campaign and critical forum is no more. At an Open Steering Group meeting held in Manchester on Friday, October 7th, amidst smiles, frowns and tears, it was agreed that IDYW had run its course, having lost its impetus and energy. In exploring why this was so and where we were up to, it became plain we had much of which to be proud. The evidence for this assertion is to be found on this website with its 1500+ posts recording our collective activity since our appearance in early 2009. We are committed to preserving the website as a historical archive and as a testament to the impact of our small ‘unauthorised’ and independent group, ‘punching above its weight’, upon the national and indeed international youth work scene.

One of Jethro Bryce’s striking illustrations from our book, ”This is Youth Work’

Whilst IDYW will cease to be an organised presence in the youth work arena, it is vital to recognise that its existence was always of its time. It was no more and no less than a particular expression over the last thirteen years of a centuries-old struggle for a truly democratic and ‘popular’ education. Without questioning, democratically inclined citizens, young and old, there can be no democracy. In this context, the humanist philosophy and practice of a secular and religious disposition that inspired IDYW’s resistance to the behavioural and instrumental neoliberal agenda remain a universal treasury of hope. The ideas live on. In the face of an increasingly technocratic and authoritarian capitalism, we hope that our endeavour will be taken up afresh and reimagined by a new wave of workers and activists. We hope too that the archive of our efforts will provide a moment or two of inspiration.

Gathering our collective thoughts

For now, we will take a deep breath, tinged with sadness, bursting with pride. In the coming months, from time to time, we will highlight anew memories worth remembering. Tony Taylor at has agreed to be a Keeper of the Records, to use an old-fashioned title, and will welcome approaches from students, academics, researchers and practitioners seeking to explore our ‘books’.

Hopefully concentrating on a speaker’s provocative insights!

A Pragmatic Postscript

Over the years our Facebook page has taken on a life of its own. At this moment it boasts 6,800 members. It has become the go-to place for sharing information and ideas about youth work in general. In many ways, the page has lost touch with its original purpose of encouraging debate focused on IDYW’s cornerstones. Nevertheless, it is clearly an important resource and a marketplace for youth workers and projects. Respecting this our moderators will continue to keep watch on its contents and are considering ways of perhaps filtering the daily waterfall of varied material.



  1. “tinged with sadness, bursting with pride”. I very much understand the sadness, and absolutely recognise the pride that IDYW members should be feeling. Well done on a brilliant project/campaign/inspirational movement. Thank you for everything.

    • Thanks, Adam. Your generous comments about IDYW were heard and appreciated at the closing meeting. Perhaps Brighton in January will mark a fresh start.

  2. Sad news for me and yet another example of what we lose when we become passive consumers of our fate. We have sleepwalked into the passing of necessary agitation. This site deserved better attention than we gave it. I tip my hat to the creators and content generators. I stand as one who didn’t do enough to guarantee sustainability of this necessary site. One of the few that asks ‘why?’ Whilst I breathe, I have hope.

  3. At a time when neoliberalism took over so many aspects of our lives, including youth work practice, what a breath of fresh air it was to come across In Defence of Youth Work. Tony and other comrades, you have done a fantastic job defending the honourable tradition of voluntary youth work. Here in Australia, we have benefited greatly from being exposed to the critical analyses, resistance to mainstream agenda and positive challenges that in Defence of Youth Work exposed us to. We thank you for your leadership in this space. Although I get sad when good things come to an end, in a strange way it also gives me hope that the not so good stuff will also have an end. So, we shall continue the struggle for better times and once again solute you for your contribution. Bella Ciao

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.