What future for state-funded youth work? Manchester and London seminars in June

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In Defence of Youth Work
Engaging Critically Seminars

What future for state-funded youth work?

Manchester, Wednesday 14th June 1-4pm
London, Friday 23rd June, 1-4pm

  • What is the current role of government in providing or funding open access youth work?
  • What does this mean for young people, youth workers, and youth organisations?
  • What might we expect to see in the future, and what should we be fighting for?

Bernard Davies will start from the proposition that the local authority youth service may well have disappeared by 2020 as the model for supporting and providing open access youth work. Recognising that ‘the state’ is a complex and contested concept whose past intrusions into this form of practice with young people have not always been helpful, his recently published article in Youth and Policy 116 on which his talk will draw seeks to break out of the neo-liberal mind-set to re-imagine, for youth work, more appropriate state responses. Bernard is a widely published author on youth work and is a retired youth worker, Youth Officer, and lecturer who has been active in IDYW since it was created.

Tania de St Croix will critically discuss the government’s primary vehicle for investment in a universal youth service – the National Citizen Service. What does state support for the National Citizen Service tell us about how young people – and services for young people – are perceived in policy? Does the National Citizen Service ‘count’ as youth work, and does that matter? Six years on, is Tania’s critique of NCS in Youth and Policy 106 still relevant? Tania is a Lecturer in the Sociology of Youth and Childhood at King’s College London, a volunteer youth worker/co-op member at Voice of Youth, and has been involved in IDYW since the early days.

These short talks will be followed by open discussion on the questions above. We particularly welcome youth workers and other youth practitioners (paid or unpaid), managers, voluntary sector and local authority employees, policy makers, students, tutors/lecturers, researchers, and anyone else who is interested. The seminar is offered an opportunity to take time out from the hurly-burly of practice to think about where we are, where we are going, and what we might do differently.

In Defence of Youth Work is a forum for critical discussion on youth work. We are committed to encouraging an open and pluralist debate at a time of limited opportunities for collective discussion.

Manchester seminar: Wednesday 14th June 1-4pm at M13 Youth Project
Brunswick Parish Church Centre, Brunswick St, Manchester, M13 9TQ
A short walk or bus ride from Manchester Piccadilly. See map and directions: http://www.brunswickchurch.org.uk/contact–location.html

London seminar: Friday 23rd June, 1-4pm at King’s College London
School of Education, Communication & Society, Rm 2/21, Waterloo Bridge Wing, Waterloo Road, SE1 9NH.
Five minutes from Waterloo station (but slightly confusing to find!) See map and directions: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/education/WTKings/Finding-WBW.aspx

Suggested donation to IDYW: £2-5 (students/volunteers/unwaged) / £5-10 (waged). Tea/coffee provided.

To register, email Rachel@yasy.co.uk

Please circulate around your networks the flyer for this event.

YS NCS flyer [Word]

YS NCS flyer [pdf]

Youth and Policy: The final issue? Towards a new format

Youth & Policy is about to take a new, positive turn. We have copied below the editorial group’s explanation and hope to play our part in contributing to the journal’s continuing desire to be a critical and challenging voice.

yandp3

Youth & Policy: The Journal of Critical Analysis was formed 35 years ago in 1982, to address a need for ‘a serious journal of analysis and review which focused its attention upon the whole area of youth policy’. The journal aimed – and continues to aim – to address itself not only to youth work, youth services and education, but also to the wider field of young people and how young people are impacted by (and how they have an impact on) policy. The journal has been highly influential in the field and valued by students, researchers, lecturers, practitioners and activists. Those who set it up, and those who have been involved throughout the last 35 years – editorial group members, reviewers, writers, proof-readers, and others – should be justly proud of what it has achieved. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed in any way. However, the time has come for a change. In recent years, Youth & Policy has faced a few challenges, including:

 
• A steep fall in the numbers of high quality articles submitted. We are always glad to see excellent articles from our valued, committed and regular writers and new contributors, but overall the numbers are falling, and this means we do not have enough quality articles to release the journal on a regular basis. There are a number of factors underlying this decline in quantity and quality. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) and similar processes internationally tend to incentivise academics to submit to journals with high ‘impact factors’ – and while we know that an article in Youth and Policy has more likelihood of being read than one in most ostensibly ‘higher impact’ journals, readership does not count for a great deal. At the same time, academics’ and practitioners’ workloads are increasing exponentially, hence there is reduced time for any of us to write (or, for that matter, to peer review, edit and coordinate journals)! Sadly, it seems that many lecturers in the field of Youth Studies and Youth and Community Work are given negligible time – if any – for research and writing.

 
• A growing proportion of inappropriate and irrelevant articles are being submitted, which do not meet the remit of our journal and/or are not in any way ready for publication. Presumably this is also due to the ‘publish or perish’ culture. Often it feels as though we are receiving articles that have been rejected elsewhere and have not been adapted for our journal – we are not talking here about articles from the field, but irrelevant articles that do not address the aims of our journal and have often not been proof-read. It takes a great deal of (voluntary) time and energy to read through these submissions and provide helpful feedback.

 
• Technological challenges and workload pressures amongst some members of the editorial group have conspired to take the journal offline for periods and/or hold up the publication of some issues for an unacceptably long time. We realise that this may feed into the first challenge – the lack of quality submissions – but because the reduction in quality submissions predated our technological challenges, we feel that this is not the main factor.

 
We know that Youth and Policy continues to be valued, particularly by lecturers, researchers, students and (to some extent) practitioners in the field of youth and community work. We also aim to reach and contribute towards wider youth and policy related networks, beyond ‘youth work’ and its related practices, but it is less clear how successful we have been in regard to this aim in recent years. Overall, we have had a general feeling that Youth & Policy is not responsive enough (we know that we are too slow to publish time-relevant articles), is not reaching a wide enough audience, and is not attracting sufficient high quality submissions to sustain the publication of a journal that is produced regularly enough to contribute in a timely way to present policy debates. As REF-type procedures and heavy workloads are likely to continue to affect the quality and volume of articles received, we feel the time has come to make a change.

 
The way ahead
We have decided to move towards a more responsive format. The new Youth & Policy will continue to be free, open access and online, yet rather than having ‘issues’ we will instead publish individual articles, which can be published as soon as they have been prepared. Most of these articles will be much shorter – up to 2000 words in length. We are setting up a new website that will be easier for all of us on the editorial group to access and edit. We have now had all our ‘hard copy’ back issues scanned (a garagantuan task!) and will host these on the new website, alongside the full range of our existing electronic editions. We recognise that there will be some disadvantages to the new system, but we are confident that any that arise will be outweighed by the benefits. Needless to say, we will monitor and review the new format closely during the months following the launch. However, there are also clear advantages in terms of a much easier process, which will enable quicker publication. We believe that the new format will be easier for researchers, lecturers, students and practitioners to access and read, and hope that it will be read and shared more widely and attract more high quality contributions. We will still exercise a system of quality control, through a simplified and streamlined peer review process, and those academics who need to be able to say they are submitting to a peer reviewed journal will still be able to do so. We will occasionally invite longer journal-length articles, but these will be the exception rather than the norm.

 
We will continue to seek articles which provide a critical analysis of current policy issues affecting young people. We are keen to host original articles on a wide range of themes – education, employment, justice, health, identity, equality, youth services, media, campaigning, and many more. We hope existing contributors and new writers will be keen to contribute, so do look out for our guidelines for submissions. Our new format site will be up and running (at the same web address) within a few weeks of the publication of this final edition and we will launch the new format at an event in the autumn. We will also continue to organise conferences and seminars –note the advance date for our forthcoming ‘Youth Policy: Then and Now’ conference, March 9th– 10th 2018, which will draw together historical and present themes and research. We hope to see you all at these or other events in the near future.

 

Download Y&P 116 at http://www.youthandpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/yandp116.pdf

Youth and Policy: The final issue? Towards a new format

Youth Work and Informal Education: Finding common ground
Tony Jeffs

Beyond the Local Authority Youth Service: Could the state fund open access youth work – and if so, how? A speculative paper for critical discussion
Bernard Davies

Scientism, governance and evaluation: Challenging the ‘good science’ of the UK evaluation agenda for youth work
Deirdre Niamh Duffy

Extending democracy to young people: is it time for youth suffrage?
Kalbir Shukra

Youth and adult perspectives on representation in local child and youth councils in Ireland
Shirley Martin and Catherine Forde

What, no coaching? Challenging the dominance of mentoring in work with young people
Tina Salter

Effective gang policy and practice: how research with ‘Black male youth’ problematizes the official definition of the UK gang
Ian Joseph

Social work with children in the Youth Justice system – messages from practice
Jane Pye and Ian Paylor

Organised Crime, Street Gangs and County Lines
John Pitts

The American news media and youth: distortion, defamation, demographic fear
Mike Males

Finding a better way of protecting young workers
Jim McKechnie, Sandy Hobbs, Emma Littler and Amanda Simpson

Margaret Mead and the ‘Unknown Children’
Mike Males

Exploring the idea of ‘spaces’ in youth work

My sincere apologies for the belated appearance of these stimulating notes from the London IDYW regional meeting – entirely my fault. 

youth work

The last London IDYW meeting explored the idea of ‘spaces’ in youth work. We started by identifying the types of shared spaces we work in and the vast number of issues this can bring about, from issues of time and equipment to safeguarding concerns and the ‘stigma of space’. This raised some fundamental questions around what would make something a ‘youth specific’ space then, and if detached youth work was able to create spaces, or if youth work was about the relationships within ‘any’ space. If youth work is about the relationships, then the quality of the space shouldn’t matter, but there are pros and cons of having a homely ‘lower quality’ youth space versus a flashy new place to work.

We discussed what could be considered youth work, in any space, and closed by attempting to identify how youth workers could share spaces and work in partnership while maintaining professional integrity. We concluded here that youth workers needed to be more pro-active about owning the terms of the relationship and space use. We need to remember that we have some power in these negotiations, other agencies often need us to deliver the numbers and interactions they need to secure their funding, so we should be clear about out terms of engagement from the start. We discussed what would be some good principles to agree to before commencing a partnership:

 
– That the young people’s engagement must be voluntary

– That we do not function to ‘report back’ and monitor attendance or engagement (or more likely non-engagement) where it may result in adverse consequences for young clients

– Anti-oppressive principles underpinning work (no racism etc)

 
We decided that the next meeting will further explore the idea of positive partnerships for youth work, and will have a 2 hour reflection space and a 1 hour space to develop solutions. We’d love to see more workers from London attend! Date – to be confirmed.

Detailed briefing notes –  well worth exploring

Exploring spaces

Greetings and solidarity on International Workers Day

Thanks to the indefatigable Sue Atkins for the May Day collage

 

Greetings and solidarity to all our readers, supporters and critics on International Workers Day. As much as ever we need that fragile, but creative cocktail of dissenting dialogue and collective strength – involving, to use today’s parlance, both millenials, centennials, generation X, baby boomers and the traditionalists – in the struggle for social justice, equality and authentic democracy. Let’s carry on chatting, agitating and organising.

Female workers in the May Day Parade in New York City in 1936 [File: New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images]

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.

 

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.

MMU BA Y&C course under threat! Advice and support appreciated.

The BA [Honours] Youth and Community course at the Manchester Metropolitan University is facing a precarious future. Against this worrying backcloth Janet Batsleer, Reader in Education and Principal Lecturer, Youth and Community, writes to ask our readers the following question.

What would you design into a Community Education course for the future that builds on the learning of the past 40 years or so? Or would you just close it down?

Your replies should be sent to Janet at J.Batsleer@mmu.ac.uk and would be much appreciated.

 

20170317-_DSC1323-Edit

Tony Taylor, Jon Ord and Janet Batsleer at the IDYW conference

 

These are indeed troubled times.