Last Acts as Coordinator – No Surprises

As indicated earlier I’m withdrawing from my role as IDYW Coordinator and taking something of a back seat. One of my last acts will be offering a workshop and contributing as an ‘expert’ panellist [a debatable notion] at the Transformative Youth Work conference in Plymouth this week – see this post on my revived blog, Chatting Critically.

Two Years On and still trying to resist neoliberalism’s embrace

The IDYW Steering Group is meeting during the conference and we will publish details of new organisational arrangements next week.

Thanks to everyone for their support, comments and criticism.

The struggle for an open, process-led, improvised young people centred youth work continues!

And, as we say, in another eccentric part of my life – Best Foot Forward!

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Taylor on an impact evaluation exercise last year in Leicester

Henry Giroux warns of a neoliberal fascism we must resist

In youth work circles [or at least in youth work academia] Henry Giroux is best known for a vision of critical pedagogy, which advocates for the need to make pedagogy central to politics itself, seeking to create the conditions necessary for the development of a formative culture that provides the foundation for developing critical citizens and a meaningful and substantive democracy. 

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Henry Giroux – ta to thisishell.com

In recent years he has aimed his critical arrows at the curse of neoliberalism, exposing its anti-democratic and authoritarian character through such books as ‘Neoliberalism’s War Against Higher Education’ and ‘Education and the Crisis of Public Values’. Throughout his work, he is sensitive to the condition of young people under neoliberalism, going so far as to talk of ‘a war on youth’ – see ‘Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?’ and a previous post on this site, ‘The War on Youth: ‘Twas ever thus.

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In his latest book, ‘American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism’  he ups the stakes. The spectre now haunting society is an emerging neoliberal fascism. His argument is expressed in a new article, Neoliberal Fascism and the Echoes of History.

Perhaps you think he exaggerates. I’m minded of a phrase we used in our founding Open Letter about the need to wake from the slumber of decided opinion. I can but recommend that you engage with Henry’s analysis.

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Ta to antifascistnews.net

A couple of excerpts to entice you:

The nightmares that have shaped the past and await return slightly just below the surface of American society are poised to wreak havoc on us again. America has reached a distinctive crossroads in which the principles and practices of a fascist past and neoliberal present have merged to produce what Philip Roth once called “the terror of the unforeseen.”

The war against liberal democracy has become a global phenomenon. Authoritarian regimes have spread from Turkey, Poland, Hungary and India to the United States and a number of other countries. Right-wing populist movements are on the march, spewing forth a poisonous mix of ultra-nationalism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia. The language of national decline, humiliation and demonization fuels dangerous proposals and policies aimed at racial purification and social sorting while hyping a masculinization of agency and a militarism reminiscent of past dictatorships. Under current circumstances, the forces that have produced the histories of mass violence, torture, genocide and fascism have not been left behind. Consequently, it has been more difficult to argue that the legacy of fascism has nothing to teach us regarding how “the question of fascism and power clearly belongs to the present.”

We live at a time in which the social is individualized and at odds with a notion of solidarity once described by Frankfurt School theorist Herbert Marcuse as “the refusal to let one’s happiness coexist with the suffering of others.” Marcuse invokes a forgotten notion of the social in which one is willing not only to make sacrifices for others but also “to engage in joint struggle against the cause of suffering or against a common adversary.”

One step toward fighting and overcoming the criminogenic machinery of terminal exclusion and social death endemic to neoliberal fascism is to make education central to a politics that changes the way people think, desire, hope and act. How might language and history adopt modes of persuasion that anchor democratic life in a commitment to economic equality, social justice and a broad shared vision? The challenge we face under a fascism buoyed by a savage neoliberalism is to ask and act on what language, memory and education as the practice of freedom might mean in a democracy. What work can they perform, how can hope be nourished by collective action and the ongoing struggle to create a broad-based democratic socialist movement? What work has to be done to “imagine a politics in which empowerment can grow and public freedom thrive without violence?” What institutions have to be defended and fought for if the spirit of a radical democracy is to return to view and survive?

 

 

 

The Sage Handbook of Youth Work Practice: ‘a casket of thoughts for the 21st century’

I’ve a lovely book of Parlour songs, ‘A Casquet of Vocal Gems’, which I know reveals my age. However, looking forward not backward, it is my feeling that this SAGE handbook has more than its fair share of analytic gems from practice. At this moment I’ve simply listed the contents of the handbook to give you a sense of its range and diversity. It has already been pointed out in a Facebook thread that a notable number of contributors to the book are supporters and critical friends of IDYW. We will take that very much as a compliment. In the near future, we hope to review at least some of the book’s delights and indeed would welcome your responses to both individual chapters and the whole.

The SAGE Handbook of Youth Work Practice
Edited by
Pam Alldred Brunel University London
Fin Cullen St Mary’s University Twickenham London
Kathy Edwards RMIT University
Dana Fusco York College, City University of New York
The SAGE Handbook of Youth Work Practice showcases the value of professional work with young people as it is practiced in diverse forms in locations around the world. The editors have brought together an international team of contributors who reflect the wide range of approaches that identify as youth work, and the even wider range of approaches that identify variously as community work or community development work with young people, youth programmes, and work with young people within care, development and (informal) education frameworks. The Handbook is structured to explore histories, current practice and future directions:

Part One: Approaches to Youth Work Across Time and Place
Part Two: Professional Work With Young People: Projects and Practices to Inspire
Part Three: Values and Ethics in Work with Young People
Part Four: Current Challenges and Hopes for the Future

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Introduction by Pam Alldred, Fin Cullen, Kathy Edwards, and Dana Fusco
PART 01: Approaches to Youth Work Across Time and Place
Chapter 1: Defining Youth Work: exploring the boundaries, continuity and diversity of youth work practice by Trudi Cooper

Chapter 2: How to Support Young People in a Changing World: The sociology of generations and youth work by Dan Woodman and Johanna Wyn

Chapter 3: Looking over our shoulders: Youth work and its history by Anthony Jeffs

Chapter 4: Some conceptions of youth and youth work in the United States by Dana Fusco

Chapter 5: Youth Work as a Colonial Export: Explorations From the Global South by Kathy Edwards and Ismail Shaafee

Chapter 6: Let Principles Drive Practice: Reclaiming Youth Work in India by Roshni K. Nuggehalli

Chapter 7: The Impact of Neoliberalism Upon the Character and Purpose of English Youth Work and Beyond by Tony Taylor, Paula Connaughton, Tania de St Croix, Bernard Davies, and Pauline Grace

Chapter 8: Youth Work in England: A Profession with a Future? by Helen M.F. Jones

Chapter 9: Precarious Practices with Risky Subjects? Policy and Practice Explorations in the UK and Europe by Fin Cullen and Simon Bradford

Chapter 10: Undoing Sexism and Youth Work Practice: Seeking Equality, Unsettling Ideology, Affirming Difference – A UK Perspective by Janet Batsleer

Chapter 11: Intersectionality and Resistance in Youth Work: Young People, Peace and Global ‘Development’ in a Racialized World by Momodou Sallah, Mike Ogunnusi and Richard Kennedy

Chapter 12: Youth Work and Social Pedagogy: Reflections from the UK and Europe by Kieron Hatton

Chapter 13: 21st Century Youth Work: Life Under Global Capitalism by Hans Skott-Myhre and Kathleen Skott-Myhre

 

PART 02: Professional Work With Young People: Projects/Practices to Inspire

Chapter 14: Participation, Empowerment and Democracy: Engaging with Young People’s Views by Philippa Collin, Girish Lala, and Leo Fieldgrass

Chapter 15: Faith-based Youth Work: Education, Engagement and Ethics by Graham Bright, Naomi Thompson, Peter Hart, and Bethany Hayden

Chapter 16: Together we Walk: The Importance of Relationship in Youth Work with Refugee Young People by Jen Couch

Chapter 17: Screaming Aloud from the da old plantation down-under: Youth Work on the margins in Aotearoa New Zealand by Fiona Beals, Peter- Clinton Foaese, Martini Miller, Helen Perkins and Natalie Sargent

Chapter 18: Promoting Children First Youth Work in the Youth Justice System and Beyond by Stephen Case and Rachel Morris

Chapter 19: Critical Street Work: the politics of working (in) outside institutions by Michael Whelan and Helmut Steinkellner

Chapter 20: Youth Work, Arts Practice and Transdisciplinary Space by Frances Howard, Steph Brocken, and Nicola Sim

Chapter 21: Fringe Work – Street-level Divergence in Swedish Youth Work by Björn Andersson

Chapter 22: The Alchemy of work with Young Women by Susan Morgan and Eliz McArdle

Chapter 23: Supporting Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Diverse Young People: UK Methods and Approaches by Catherine McNamara

PART 03: Values and Ethics in Work with Young People

Chapter 24: An Ethics of Caring in Youth Work Practice by Joshua Spiers and David Giles

Chapter 25: Relationship Centrality in Work with Young People with Experience of Violence by Daniel Jupp Kina

Chapter 26: Reflective Practice: Gaze, Glance and Being a Youth Worker by Jo Trelfa

Chapter 27: The Challenges for British Youth Workers of Government Strategies to ‘Prevent Terrorism’ by Paul Thomas

Chapter 28: The Politics of Gang Intervention in New England, USA: Knowledge, Partnership, and Youth Transformation by Ellen Foley, Angel Guzman, Miguel Lopez, Laurie Ross, Jennifer Safford-Farquharson, with Katie Byrne, Egbert Pinero, and Ron Waddell

Chapter 29: Coercion in Sexual Relationships: Challenging Values in school-based work by Jo Heslop

Chapter 30: Youth & Community Approaches To Preventing Child Sexual Exploitation: South African and UK Project Experiences by Kate D’Arcy, Roma Thomas, and Candice Wallas

Chapter 31: Allies, Not Accomplices: What Youth Work can Learn from Trans and Disability Movements by Wolfgang Vachon and Tim McConnell

Chapter 32: The Challenges of Using a Youth Development Approach in a Mental Health and Addictions Service for Young People by Mark Wood

Chapter 33: Gaze Interrupted: Speaking back to Stigma with Visual Research by Victoria Restler and Wendy Luttrell

Chapter 34: The Ethical Foundations of Youth Work as an International Profession by Howard Sercombe

Chapter 35: Youth Work at the End of Life? by Rajesh Patel

PART 04: Current Challenges, Future Possibilities

Chapter 36: Youth Work Practices in Conflict Societies: Lessons, Challenges and Opportunities by Ken Harland and Alastair Scott-McKinley

Chapter 37: Popular Education and Youth Work: Learnings from Ghana by Marion Thomson and Kodzo Chapman

Chapter 38: Roma Youth and Global Youth Work by Brian Belton

Chapter 39: Community Development with Young People – Exploring a New Model by Helen Bartlett and Adam Muirhead

Chapter 40: Returning to Responsive Youth Work in New York City by Susan Matloff-Nieves, Tanya Wiggins, Jennifer Fuqua, Marisa Ragonese, Steve Pullano, and Gregory Brender

Chapter 41: Uncomfortable Knowledge and the Ethics of Good Practice in Australia’s Offshore Refugee Detention Centers by Judith Bessant and Rob Watts

Chapter 42: The Evolution of Youth Empowerment: From Programming to Partnering by Heather Ramey and Heather Lawford

Chapter 43: Towards a Shared Vision of Youth Work: Developing a Worker-Based Youth Work Curriculum by Tomi Kiilakoski, Viljami Kinnunen, and Ronnie Djupsund

Chapter 44: Evaluating Youth Work in its Contexts by Sue Cooper and Anu Gretschel

Conclusion by Dana Fusco, Pam Alldred, Kathy Edwards, and Fin Cullen

July 2018 • 617 pages • Cloth (9781473939523) • £120.00

Obviously, the book is expensive, although Adam Muirhead argues [tongue in cheek?] that it works out at a reasonable £2.72 per chapter! Certainly, we should make every effort to get the handbook into academic and workplace libraries. Rumour is that already some teams of workers are clubbing together to meet the cost. Collective spirit rises from the ashes.

 

Youth services try to mould young people – how about they help young people mould society instead? A view from outside our ranks

Laura Kelly, a Research Fellow and Ellie Munro, a PhD student, both at the University of Birmingham offer an insightful analysis of the present situation facing youth work and youth services. It’s heartening to read such a supportive and informative piece from outside of our own ranks.

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Ta to Radical Youth, Notts

Youth services try to mould young people – how about they help young people mould society instead?

Laurie and Ellie conclude:

Under the current government, youth services look set to further embed an emphasis on civic responsibility, while young people’s entitlements – to affordable housing, secure employment and educational and recreational services – are side-lined. And although Labour’s plans may do more to secure funding and embed services in local authorities across England, they will be weakened if youth services are seen only as a tool for shaping law-abiding and employment-ready young people.

A more radical approach to youth work and services would support young people to identify and collectively challenge the factors that threaten their security and well-being. If any future government – Labour, Conservative or otherwise – truly wishes to empower young people, they will have to be bold enough to take a more politicised view of social action and value youth workers as educators and advocates – not just policy instruments.

IDYW response to the APPG Inquiry – Are there sufficient youth workers to support youth services and other delivery models for good quality youth work?

YWalive

The third question asked by the NYA on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group.

Are there sufficient youth workers to support youth services and other delivery models for good quality youth work?

Our starting point is necessarily young people, their interests and concerns, For instance, the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services [2013] research found that up to 35% of 10-15 year olds were then using a youth club either most days or at least one day a week. Yet, as the Committee will know, some of the Cabinet Office’s own returns, together with research carried out by Unison and more recently by the YMCA all reveal that state funding for youth work facilities has been cut so heavily since 2010 that many local authority Youth Services have disappeared completely and others decimated. As a result across the country up to one million young people have lost their easily accessible, ‘safe place’, all-year-round leisure-time facilities – open access youth clubs and centres, detached work projects and provision for groups such as LGBT young people.

Hence the straightforward response to the question posed is negative. There is also a tension in that phrase “good quality youth work’.  The drive or requirements for evidence and impact assessment to demonstrate value for money are not the only ways to gauge ‘quality’. In many cases, it could be said that they lead to a distortion in the work in order to fulfil the requirements to provide the figures and the audit trails. However, that apart, because of the cuts in services there is a marked change in the number of workers delivering open access services on the ground.  One significant, oft-hidden, result of this is the diminishing number of workers, lost through redundancy and retirement, able to meet the supervision requirements specified by the NYA and JNC. The circle is vicious as both open access provision and staff experienced in this field disappear.

Weighing up the number of youth workers available is rendered all the more difficult as the breakdown of the local authority youth service has led to the fragmentation of what are recognised as appropriate qualifications. Many national and local voluntary organisations, including faith groups and uniformed organisations, the police, private companies, sports clubs and associations and even the military now seek to deliver their own versions of work with young people.  There is little in the way of collaboration and no clear picture of exactly what is being provided, and what the qualifications are of the people employed. For example, many NCS programmes recruit both volunteers and paid workers who are university students following all manner of degrees from languages to science . Other organisations recognise military service as appropriate experience or, less controversially, the completion of an NVQ certificate or diploma.

Certainly, it seems indisputable that, compared with 2010, there are now far too few youth workers (paid or voluntary) and far too few open access youth work  facilities within which those workers can practice in their distinctive ways.

IDYW Response to the APPG Inquiry – What are the key issues and challenges faced by young people being addressed by current youth service provisions?

YWalive

The second question asked by the NYA on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group.

What are the key issues and challenges faced by young people being addressed by current youth service provisions?

‘Have we got a vision of the future that is optimistic and democratic?’ This fundamental question facing society at large is one most keenly felt by young people, for whom life is increasingly precarious. After four decades of the neoliberal emphasis on the self-sufficient individual and the rule of the market young people are to be found in the mire of its contradictions, not least the the consequences of the policy of austerity upon families and communities. The impact of cuts in Public Services have been particularly disproportionate on what we once knew as the Youth Service, The figures of these cuts are now well known, so we don’t need to repeat them here, suffice to say there is a dearth of places for the free association of young people, of spaces to explore and create for themselves collectively visions of their future, to struggle with the issues they experience whether this be lack of meaningful employment, concerns about climate change, dilemmas in their personal and home life, sexual choices, opportunities for arts, music or sport or needing somewhere to live. In short there is a lack of provision, wherein young people explore self-critically the purpose and direction of their lives

Currently, we are all aware of the increase in concern over the mental health of young people – their anxiety,, their loneliness, their failure to be happy or well. The overwhelming political and professional response is to individualise, making the young person responsible for their alleged condition. If the isolation and fragmentation of young people’s lives are not seen as a collective or community issue, the tendency is to move to a case-work deficit model at odds with a young people-centred, process-led youth work. In this context we would argue that present youth services provision is losing its identity, shifting towards behavioural modification programmes, which focus on compliance with rather than criticism of the status quo. Young people need spaces, which are not experienced as being about regulation and surveillance.

The emphasis on conformity is at odds with a commitment to the nurturing of the questioning and informed young citizen, essential to the defence and extension of democracy in these increasingly authoritarian times. We believe that youth work can play a significant part in this struggle for democracy, provided it is granted a level of autonomy, which allows it to be responsive and improvisatory. To take the classic question of young people’s participation impressive work has been done through the mediums of youth councils and parliaments but in many ways these only scratch the surface. As the important PARTiSPACE research argues there is a fundamental flaw in many efforts to get young people to participate – ‘young people are being seen as not knowing or not wanting to participate and therefore needing education. There is little attention paid to structures of inequality and dominance or to young people’s competences and ideas. Rather than through teaching and training, participation is learned by ‘doing’. In our view, youth workers, operating outside of the formal structures of schooling, training, social services and youth justice, can support young people’s self-determination in a distinctive manner and thus enhance the democratic character of society as a whole.

IDYW Response to the APPG Inquiry – What is the role of youth work in addressing the needs and opportunities for young people?

 

 

YWalive

Ta to andyclow.com

The first question asked by the NYA on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group.

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What is the role of youth work in addressing the needs and opportunities for young people?

There are many different versions of youth work and it is highly likely the Committee will hear about many of them.  It is a term much used and much abused, reduced in recent times to mean more or less any form of work with young people. In contrast ‘In Defence of Youth Work’  argues that youth work takes place in a distinctive, open and free setting outside of the formal and imposed institutions of society, for example, schools, social services and youth justice. It starts from young people’s identification of their needs. It is holistic in intent, rooted in meaningful association and challenging conversation. Above all, it is based on the building of relationships with young people, which can be neither prescribed nor imposed. So often now, youth workers are directed to work with young people because they are perceived by others to have a problem, or to be causing a problem, or to be deficient in some way. This work demands predetermined outcomes, to be achieved within a set timescale. It may well be appropriate in other settings, but it contravenes an essential ingredient in the youth work process.  The rhythm and pace of our interaction with young people are under their control.

 

Thus we reaffirm our belief in an emancipatory and democratic Youth Work, founded on cornerstones of a practice, which:

  • works in non-stigmatising  with young people as young people who choose to be involved;
  • takes place in open-access settings – physical, social and cultural spaces which young people can ‘own’ and experience as safe;
  • is rooted in mutually respectful and trusting relationships amongst young people and between young person and adults;
  • offers young people informal educational opportunities and challenges which recognise their strengths and potential and start from their concerns and interests;
  • within boundaries of consistency and reliability, responds flexibly and creatively to young people in their here-and-now  as well as to their ‘transitions’;
  • works with and through their peer networks and wider shared identities, in the process identifying and responding as appropriate to individual needs and concerns;
  • at times deliberately blurs personal and professional boundaries  in order to communicate as openly and honestly as possible with young people;
  • uses activities both as vehicles for young people’s personal development and as opportunities in their own right for individual and group achievement and affirmation.

If youth work is to be renewed in the interests of young people and the common good, it is essential that state and voluntary sector policy-makers and providers start from this kind of positive definition of the practice, its purpose and role – as an educational and developmental provision for a wide range of young people who choose to engage in their own leisure time. On the other hand, if in the present political, media and funding climate the Committee makes the case primarily on the grounds that youth work could help reduce knife crime or drug-taking or school drop-outs, important as these issues are, what will almost certainly get ‘revived’ are ‘youth services’ that once again are ‘targeted’. As a result, most of those up-to-a-million young people who have been most directly affected by the systematic deconstruction of local Youth Services will get little if any benefit.