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!

TTLeics1

Taylor on an impact evaluation exercise last year in Leicester

Summerhill: Freedom to Learn, Celebrating Humanity in Education – April 6-8

Summerhill: Freedom to Learn

summerhill

Fri, 6 Apr 2018, 14:00 – Sun, 8 Apr 2018, 17:00 BST

Summerhill, Westword Ho, Leiston, IP16 4HY

The Freedom to Learn Forum is an annual festival, celebrating humanity in education, bringing together progressive educators, families and other pioneers to showcase and inspire unique learning communities governed by equality, freedom, and collaboration.

Unlikely to resemble any other conferences you’ve been to before, the Freedom to Learn Forum is an open-space arena in which adults and children co-create the schedule. Anyone can host a talk or workshop on any topic they are passionate about, allowing us to share our knowledge, experience, and ideas.

This Spring, the Freedom to Learn Forum will be set in the stunning surroundings of the historic Summerhill school, founded in 1921 and still ahead of its time. Delicious food will be provided by their on-site catering team, and students will be adding a ‘Summerhill Sprinkle’ to the affair, hosting mock-meetings and a famous ‘gram’ (disco). There are a limited number of beds for those who wish to have the authentic Summerhill residential experience.

Price varies from £10 to £60

More information and bookings at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/freedom-to-learn-forum-tickets-40765702313

 

S.O.S. Voice of Youth will close… unless you can step up and take it on?

Voice of Youth is circulating the following plea, which gives also a revealing insight into the joys and tensions of organising ‘horizontally’, alongside challenging the target and outcomes culture embraced by so much of the youth ‘sector’.

S.O.S. Voice of Youth

Hackney youth workers’ cooperative VOY will close…
unless you can step up and take it on?

After six wonderful years of cooperative youth work in Hackney, we are now looking for the right team of youth workers to take Voice of Youth forward.

What is Voice of Youth (VOY)?
Voice of Youth is a special organisation. We do things differently: we work co-operatively without bosses, we are inspired by radical and anti-oppressive practice, our work is rooted in young people’s needs and wishes, and we avoid funding that involves meeting targets or defining young people as problems. We were set up in 2011 by local young people and youth workers, and have been doing estate-based youth work, detached youth work, and projects on social issues. Our recent work in Upper Clapton, Hackney, has had around 30 fantastic young people aged 8-18 taking part each week (over 100 each year). We have received funding from a variety of sources, have a good track record in managing our funding and running projects, and currently have around £16,000 available for a project using creative activities to get young people talking about social issues. Our overheads are very low, so even when our income is low, we are still reasonably financially stable.

So, why would VOY need to close?
We have always had a committed group of co-operative members (some paid as part-time sessional workers where funding allows) and volunteers, who run the organisation cooperatively. Sadly, the current workers and volunteers (apart from one of us) will need to move on over the next few months, for a variety of work-related and personal reasons. We all still love VOY and working together, and we are all sad to leave, but we will need to plan for closure unless we can find a new group. We are keen and happy to hand over to you and help you get started – and then it’s all yours!

What we can offer a new group:
– Funding for a 6 month youth project, including sessional paid work for three workers, using creative methods to discuss and challenge inequality.
– Current co-op members will hand over and provide support to the new group over the next few months. One of us – a young woman from the local area who is an experienced youth worker – plans to stay on long-term as part of the co-op.
– Several years of relationships with young people, parents and carers, and organisations in the area.
– All legal documentation, policies, working procedures, financial records, financial procedures, a website. You can choose to amend these, but at least you’re not starting from scratch! We are registered as a non-profit company and workers’ cooperative, and have developed a widely respected ‘How we Work’ pack for our volunteers and co-op members.
– Established processes for insurance and DBS (criminal record checks) – these are currently paused while our work is paused, and will need to be reinstated before starting face-to-face work. Access to free community venues. Freedom to work together to take the organisation in new directions – once you get up and running, there are few restrictions on what you can do.

What does it mean to be a co-op member?
Co-op members work together without bosses to run the organisation. The idea is that those working with young people make the decisions about how the organisation is run. Between them, they share out all the tasks such as working with young people, organising activities, buying resources, supervising and supporting each other, keeping financial records (one member needs to be the treasurer), and ensuring meetings happen and conform to certain procedures (one member needs to be the secretary). All the co-op members also share legal responsibilities – including for safeguarding, financial management, and accountability to funders. Have a look at our website to find out more about our work and our principles: www.voice-of-youth.org. So far, some of our co-op members have been unpaid, and others have been contracted sessionally as self-employees. We don’t yet have long-term funding or PAYE systems – the new coop could, of course, choose to change all of that.

Who can be a VOY co-op member?
Anyone who supports and commits to working towards our principles and policies! Our work relies on trusting relationships with young people and within the staff team, so we ask you to commit to 6 to 12 months if at all possible, and to working well with others and sharing tasks and responsibilities. Anyone aged 16+ can join the co-op (you need to be 18 to be officially on the committee, but we will still involve 16-17 year olds in all decisions). We aim to reflect the community we work in, and we particularly welcome Black and Minority Ethnic people, local people, and EVERYONE of ANY background and identity who is keen to work with young people on their terms, valuing their views and perspectives. All co-op members and volunteers will need a DBS (criminal record) check – an unrelated criminal record is no problem, but please discuss this with us in advance. Travel expenses may be available, ask for details.

Come to an open meeting to find out more: 6pm Monday 5th March (venue tbc).
Contact voyhackney@gmail.com by 19th Feb to let us know you’re coming.

James celebrates the 12 youth work days of Christmas

James Ballantyne, blogger extraordinaire, leads us into the festive season. And all the best to you, James, for 2018. May your blogging continue to challenge us.

12Days-1

                                             The 12 youthwork days of Christmas

On the 12 days of Christmas my youthworker gave to me…

12 annoying icebreakers

11 months of funding

10 broken ground rules

9 (or ninety) games of ping pongImage result for table tennis

8 hr sessional contracts

7 jeffs and smith books

6 franchise projects (speaking of which..)

N….C…. S…….  (or if you cant bring yourself to say NCS, say D…B….S instead)

4 smart objectives

3 supervisions

2 junior leaders

and (deep breath) an annual report for the charities commission!

Just getting in there early with a bit of Christmas cheer, I hope your end of term, last few sessions, staff meal outs, final mentoring group for the term goes well, and that you have a restful and positive Christmas, ready for the challenges that 2018 might bring us all in the youth work community. Thank you for reading, sharing and being part of the ongoing conversation in youth work in the UK and I hope reflections from this site have been useful for you this year. Happy Christmas!

 

 

 

Using Sport as a ‘tool’ in Youth Work – more than a few questions

Ta to healthyliving.az.central

Funnily enough, I came into youth work as a part-timer, given the responsibility for running the gym in a magnificent, rambling building, formerly the National Coal Board’s Centre for apprentices – hence the facilities. Thus, sweating profusely, doing sport together with young people was my passport into making relationships. This said it was contradictory. Long ago I tried to write something about anti-sexist practice with young men,  the tensions of trying to be anti-sexist in the football or rugby team.

Any road there’s been a conversation on Facebook about the role of sport in youth work. which gives me the excuse to post a link to Sean Harte’s challenging dissertation.

Taking Sides – “A critical sociological analysis of competitive sport as a medium for democratic youth work”

Sean is concerned that it was written a few years ago, but I think its argument retains its pertinence. And to add, it’s a pleasure to rescue a dissertation/essay from post-qualification oblivion. If you’ve got a piece, which you think is worth sharing, just get in touch.

Sean’s foreword is as follows:

Some supporters of the notion that sport builds character suggest that `it’s not the winning that’s important, it’s the taking part’. The lyrics from the song below perhaps suggest that many supporters and participants of sport have a very different outlook on what is important …

 

WE’RE GONNA WIN

 

WE’RE GONNA WIN

DON’T WANNA BE A LOSER – GONNA WIN

CUZ WINNIN’ REALLY IS THE ONLY THING

GET OUT OF THE WAY WE’RE COMING IN

IF YA WANNA FIGHT JUST STEP INSIDE THE RING

DOES ANYBODY WANNA TAKE A SWING?

IT’S GOTTA BE ALL OR NOTHING

OH YEH WE’RE GONNA BE THE CHAMPIONS

YA WE’RE GOIN’ ALL THE WAY

WE’RE GONNA WIN

 

WE’RE GONNA WIN

FORGET ABOUT A DRAW – WE GONNA SCORE

AND THEN WE’RE GONNA GET A FEW MORE

MAYBE ANOTHER ONE JUST TO BE SURE

WE’LL MAKE YA LOOK JUST LIKE AN AMATEUR

UNTIL THE FINAL WHISTLE IT’S A WAR

AND THEN WE GONNA PICK YA OF THE FLOOR

WE WANNA HEAR THE CROWD REALLY ROAR

YA – WE’RE COMIN’ IN WE GONNA WIN WIN

 

WE’RE GONNA WIN – WE WANNA WIN

CUZ NUMBER ONE IS EVERYTHING

WE’RE GONNA WIN – WE WANNA WIN

WE’RE GONNA BE THE CHAMPIONS

WE’RE GONNA WIN

 

Written by Bryan Adams and R. I. Lange

©1996 Badams Music Ltd. / Zomba Music Publishers Ltd.

Privatising Playgrounds, Privatising Play

Playgrounds Uncut

As 2015 comes to a watery close the flood of privatisation continues to engulf the public. The open and free Battersea Adventure playground has been bulldozed. In its wake Go Ape, a witty entrepreneurial outfit as you can gather, has built a treetop adventure facility, cost of involvement £18 – 33 per child.

Lucy  Mangan continues the sorry tale.

Why I’m going ape about the privatisation of children’s play

Amongst her comments she notes,

I like it when companies give me the metaphors ready-made. Makes my job so much easier. They should probably charge me. “It’s a considered purchase,” says the managing director [of Go Ape], Jerome Mayhew, of the astronomical fee. “But I’d rather spend money getting my children outside doing something fun, physical and adventurous than buying them an Xbox.”

Let’s spend a moment unpacking that, shall we? Consider it the last gift of the festive season. “It’s a considered purchase” means “we acknowledge that it’s a shedload of cash” – especially for something that used to be free – “but we think there are enough local people who can scrape it together to make our presence here commercially viable.” The rest can go swing.

“But I’d rather spend money getting my children outside … than buying them an Xbox.” A nice cluster of false oppositions here, and Mayhew is to be applauded for cramming so many into so few words. Here we have, seamlessly imported, the idea that money can only be spent either buying children time outside or supplying them with devilishly unhealthy devices. That parents either want the best for their children or just an easy life. That you either spend money on your children or fail them. Neatly snipped out of the picture is any conception of people without money or of worthwhile experiences to be had without money changing hands.

So 2015 becomes the year we began to accept not just the privatisation of public spaces but the actual privatisation of play for our children.

Apologies to Playgrounds Uncut that I’ve only just discovered their Facebook Page with information and details of their campaign. It  includes this excellent radio interview with Paul Hocker of London Play.