Youth leaders urge election commitments for young people, but fall short of specific demands

election reform

Fifty-one UK youth organisations have signed an open letter to the main UK political parties asking them to make firm commitments to young people. Amongst the signatories are UK Youth chief executive, Anna Smee; British Youth Council chief executive, Jo Hobbs; Volunteering Matters chief executive, Oonagh Aitken; Young Minds chief executive, Sarah Brennan; and Girlguiding’s chief executive, Julie Bentley.

It would be interesting to know the full list of organisations signed up to the welcome plea and how they came to be involved. More importantly, the request seems to miss the opportunity to make concrete demands upon the political parties, all the more so as the letter claims that their collective research has unearthed the key issues faced by young people. My apologies if I’m missing something here and  that these have been identified in a supplement to the letter.

Off the top of my head, a less than an exhaustive list of demands could have included:

  • Lower the voting age to 16
  • Abolish tuition fees in HE and restore maintenance grants
  • Bring under-25 National Living Wage in line with 25-year-olds.
  • End zero-hour contracts.
  • Prioritise a serious and properly funded strategy to end child poverty.
  • Implement immediately a building programme to create affordable, quality housing.
  • Restore funding and render statutory youth work provision.
  • Maintain and expand opportunities to live, work and study abroad.
  • Introduce Proportional Representation.
  • Recognise that public services for the common good are essential to a vibrant and inclusive democracy.

The letter in full as best I know

Dear Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron, Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas and Leanne Wood,

As Britain prepares for a snap general election, we call on you to make a firm commitment to young people across the country.

Since the referendum last year, our organisations have worked to engage young people from every part of the UK and from all backgrounds and political persuasions to present a clear plan for what they want from post-Brexit Britain.

Our national research and consultation has given us a strong and consistent picture of the top issues that matter to young people in post-Brexit Britain.

We can show you that younger generations are united on the big issues that will shape their future.

Now more than ever, their overwhelming demand to be part of the political process must be acted upon.

As the generation that will live longest with the outcome of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, we ask you to recognise that young people can have a positive impact on the Brexit negotiations and give real legitimacy to the process.

This election offers a huge opportunity to reshape the nation’s priorities and restore young people’s confidence in our democracy.

As you put together your platform for the general election, we are calling on all party leaders to make an explicit commitment to represent young people’s demands in their upcoming manifestos.

As you all prepare for this election we will all be galvanising our networks to ensure young citizens are engaged and registered to vote. We are calling on you to give them something to vote for.

 

Call for Contributions: Youth Work with Young Refugees

Apologies I’ve only just caught up with this call so it’s pretty short notice. You’ll need to read the following in full to get a sense of what is being looked for. I’ve copied below the background from the full document.

YOUTH WORK WITH YOUNG REFUGEES

 

refugees

Ta to tbo.com

 

COUNCIL OF EUROPE AND EUROPEAN UNION: YOUTH PARTNERSHIP

We invite you to write a contribution and send it to Tanya.basarab@partnership-eu.coe.int and to maria.pisani@um.edu.mt. We strongly encourage in your papers to focus on youth work with young refugees primarily – which is the main theme of the Youth Knowledge Book.

 

CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO YOUTH KNOWLEDGE BOOK ON
YOUTH WORK WITH YOUNG REFUGEES

In 2015 more than a million migrants requested asylum in Europe. Efforts to block the
Mediterranean route, through controversial agreements such as the EU/Turkey deal, has
witnessed a drop in numbers. However, in the absence of safer alternatives, the Central
Mediterranean route has continued to increase, as month on month thousands of refugee and other forced migrants continue to risk their lives in an effort to cross borders, and find safety, dignity and a better life in Europe. The vast majority making this journey are young people, aged between 14 to 34 (Eurostat, 2016).

For many young refugees then, the border represents both death, and hope. The border
serves as a state instrument of control, and also as the ideological marker for the
construction of national and political identity – delineating who belongs, and who does not; who has rights, and the right to rights (Pisani, 2015). But borders are not just definite lines, they are also a messy collage of creative spaces, of relationships and stories (Sassen, 2006). The ‘young refugee’ embodies the borderlands, a liminal space between nation states and cultures, between childhood and adulthood – where different identities, cultures, ethnicities, languages and ways of knowing, imagining, and being can interact, and intersect, opening up possibilities for transformative, political spaces.

Likewise, positioned at the ‘cusp’ (Williamson, 2014), youth work can also be seen as
positioned within these borderlands – fluid, contested and diverse, the ‘borders’ of youth
work often refutes definition, offering a diverse range of motivations, purpose and
activities, ranging from civic engagement towards transformation and social justice, to
being an instrument of the state, focused on leisure activities, integration and control.

The borderlands is a space that presents competing pressures and interests, and produces conflicting responses. The youth work response will depend on the varied ways in which we imagine these spaces and how we enact them. Youth work is never complete: evolving contexts and lived realities bring new imperatives, and new questions about the role, purpose and value of youth work.

Apologies too that the formatting is not sorted properly.

 

 

 

On being heard in your own country, on being heard in Europe

There’s a famous passage in the New Testament, in which Jesus reflects that a prophet might well find it difficult to be heard on their own patch. This observation sprang to mind on hearing that both the IDYW cornerstones and our Story-Telling approach to unravelling the character of practice are at the heart of a new European publication looking at impact and evaluation. I’ll hand over to Bernard Davies, who coordinates our work on Story-Telling, to continue the tale.

Finnish

Studying the Impact of International Youth Work – Towards developing an evaluation tool for youth centres reports on a research project funded by the European Erasmus + programme and carried out in Finland, Estonia and Slovenia. Written by Anu Gretschel, the senior researcher, in co-operation with academic and practitioner colleagues from all three of the participating countries, it has been published by the Helsinki: Finnish Youth Centres Association, the Finnish Youth Research Society and the Finnish Youth Research Network.

Particularly significant – and encouraging – for IDYW is the project’s development of the IDYW youth work story-telling process as one of its main research methods. To analyse the evidence coming out of the stories this generated, it then used a version of the IDYW Cornerstones of youth work practice which we subsequently revised to highlight the importance of giving attention to young people’s class, gender, race, sexuality, disability and faith. The report also includes references to our This is Youth Work stories book (now supplemented by the booklet of youth work stories produced by Warwickshire youth workers) and to the IDYW story-telling web resource.

For demonstrating open access youth work’s ‘impacts’ and ‘outcomes’, this international recognition of a qualitative ‘methodology’ like youth work story-telling and ‘measures’ such as the IDYW Cornerstones is welcome and indeed overdue. Statistical ‘tick boxing’, certainly in England, continues to obsess politicians, policy-makers and also many academics to the point where not only have their demands distorted how the practice is understood, but also how it is actually implemented. Those controlling the purse strings have ended up concluding that this practice cannot be supported because, against their narrowly defined criteria, it can’t prove its effectiveness.

Indeed, by using youth work story-telling in these ways, our European colleagues have done something which in IDYW we have talked about from time to time but not actually followed through in a systematic way. My experience has been that our primary focus in workshop groups has been to ‘unpack’ a story and the youth work process it exemplifies in order to prompt practitioners and students to identify what is distinctive about their practice. This, we hope, will help strengthen their identity as youth workers and enable them to become clearer and more robust in communicating its defining (and effective) features to significant audiences – not least those sceptical policy-makers. Though story-telling’s potential for demonstrating how the practice touches young people’s lives often becomes clear as a by-product, this has not been our priority – which for us gives this new report even greater significance.

Given how the researchers defined and applied some of the IDYW Cornerstones, the report also offers some challenging prompts for further discussion and debate within IDYW networks and indeed beyond on how we have been understanding and explaining these crucial signifiers of our practice.

Bernard Davies

The research is available as an e-book at http://www.snk.fi/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Studying-the-impact-of-international-youth-work.pdf

I’m sure both our Finnish friends and ourselves would welcome comments and criticism.

Transformative Youth Work International Conference: Developing and Communicating Impact, 4-6 September 2018

Advance notice of this conference from Jon Ord – hope you will think, if appropriate, of submitting a proposed paper.

The University of St Mark & St John is pleased to announce the hosting of an International Conference on the Impact of Youth Work, from 4-6 September 2018, in association with our partner universities in Estonia, Finland, France and Italy. The conference, supported by Erasmus +, will bring together a range of experts from across Europe and the wider world, to showcase the latest research on the Impact of Youth Work, including publication of the Erasmus + funded 2 year comparative study of the Impact of Youth Work in UK, Finland, Estonia, Italy and France.

The conference is being held at our campus in Plymouth, in Devon, which is located in beautiful South West England. It is situated close to Cornwall, adjacent to the Dartmoor National Park and the historic naval port of Plymouth. The university has pioneered research in youth work and the training of youth workers for nearly 30 years and is proud to host this event.

Youth_web

This will be the 1st major International conference to specifically address the issue of outcomes and the impact of youth work. The purpose of the conference will be to both promote the Impact of Youth Work and to stimulate debate and discussion about the processes which bring this impact about. The conference is open to youth workers, youth work academics & trainers as well as policy makers.

Call for Papers

The first call for papers will be sent out in May this year.

Confirmed speakers to date are:

Hans Joachim Schild (Ex-Head of European Youth Partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe) – The History of Youth Work Impact in Europe

Dr Dimitris Ballas, University of Sheffield – “A Human Atlas of Europe – A Continent United in Diversity”

To register your interest email:events@marjon.ac.uk

Youth workers as agents for change? A New Year perennial? A New Year challenge to be critically conscious.

As we enter 2017, not sure about you, but I’m struggling. This evening I’m going to a concert, ‘Musical Optimism for the New Year’. I’m afraid I might not catch the spirit of the occasion. Trying to write something about the state of youth work and how this relates to the divided, precarious and violent character of capitalism in turmoil has hardly calmed my anxiety.

In this context it’s always helpful to know other folk are wrestling with the same dilemmas. Hence here’s a challenging piece from Riikka Jalonen [Finland] and Farkhanda Chaudhry [Scotland], which begins:

 

farkhanda_riika_togther_0

Farkhanda and Riikaa together

 

It is time for the youth workers to be brave again! We need to recall the radical traditions of youth work. We can support the youth to understand the unequal power structures in society and what they can do if they want to challenge the socio-political status quo. In order to do that, firstly we need to reflect whether we want to uphold the existing unequal power structures or are we ready to challenge them? Is youth work today aspiring to those core values and ideals or has institutionalisation of youth work made us servants of the state rather than change makers? Whose purpose does this serve?

In the last decades we have noticed that the radical tradition of youth work has been fading and youth workers have been seen more and more as service providers for youth. The EU and national governments are providing youth workers resources such as training, funds and space to keep the youth out of trouble The trend is to work on the ‘problems’ that young people may face, for example, being unemployed, drugs and addiction, juvenile crime, or to be excluded from society. This model of engagement focusing on the individual has no scope for young people to collectively challenge the existing power structures. The current fear of radicalization further hinders youth workers’ possibilities of engaging young people in activities that facilitate resistance to oppression.

Read in full at

Youth workers as agents for change

In their conclusion they talk of ‘consciousness’, our sense of ourselves as individuals and our collective interdependence, what we used to call ‘personal, social and political awareness’.  Given the continuing effort to inflict on youth work simplistic explanations of both our own and young people’s so-called behaviour our new year’s resolution might well be to argue for youth work as the cultivation of critical consciousness. OK, fair enough this way of putting it is hardly snappy and a mite pretentious, but its heart is in the right place. Its desire to defend and extend youth work as a mutual, questioning dialogue free from imposed timescales, prescribed outcomes and top-down definitions of good character remains as necessary as ever.

Looking forward to arguing and struggling together in the months ahead and feeling better than when I started to scrawl these thoughts.

Best Wishes and Solidarity to friends and critics across the globe

And to keep our feet on the ground the latest news from Brighton .

There will be a Protect Youth Services campaign strategy meeting at Brighton Youth Centre this Friday (6th Jan) 5-7pm. It would be great if lots of young people could be there – please pass the word on (we can help with travel costs if needed).

In addition Brighton residents being encouraged to e-mail members of the Children Young People and Skills Committee
——————————————
Tom Bewick (Labour) – Chair of CYPS Committee – tom.bewick@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Daniel Chapman (Labour) – Deputy Chair- daniel.chapman@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Emma Daniel (Labour) – emma.daniel@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Caroline Penn (Labour) – caroline.penn@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Labour) – lloyd.russell-moyle@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Vanessa Brown (Conservative) – Conservative Spokesperson – vanessa.brown@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Nick Taylor (Conservative) – nick.taylor@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Andrew Wealls (Conservative) – andrew.wealls@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Alex Phillips (Green) – Green Spokesperson – alex.phillips@brighton-hove.gov.
Amanda Knight (Green) – amanda.knight@brighton-hove.gov.uk

 

Conference of European Research Network of Open Youth Work: ‘Theory and Practice – Understanding Youth Work’ 19 – 20 January 2017 : Places Available

There are places available at this conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, where IDYW will be contributing a workshop on the insidious impact of neoliberalism on the provision and philosophy of open youth work in England.

open-yw

Conference of European Research Network of Open Youth Work: ‘Theory and Practice Understanding Youth Work’ and Launch of the International Journal of Open Youth Work 19 – 20 January 2017

Conference venue: Hotel Panorama, Vilnius

Conditions:
There is no participation fee, boarding and lodging will be covered January 19-20,
travel costs up to 100€ will be reimbursed during or right after the conference.

Application form here.