Transformative Youth Work and Impact Evaluation – a contradiction in terms? A Challenging Conference tackled the tensions.

Transformative Youth Work International Conference

Developing and Communicating Impact – 4th September – 6th September, Plymouth Marjon University

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Rob White from the University of Tasmania opening the conference

I arrived in Plymouth, weary and a trifle sulky. A delayed flight, the teeming London hustle and bustle plus a tortuous journey on an ageing dysfunctional train, all seemed to add to my despond. Blaming neoliberalism didn’t seem to help much. However, in the early hours, my spirits arose, courtesy of a jovial and helpful night porter. The next morning witnessed the continuing revival of my demeanour as the student ambassadors, administrative and kitchen staff went out of their way to be hospitable. And, the conference itself, bringing together workers from across the globe,  proved to be challenging, critical and contradictory, but above all uplifting.

I won’t say much more as Jon Ord’s address below captures the atmosphere of the memorable proceedings. However, I hope, if the mood calls, to take up some of the issues emanating from the debates in future posts on my revived blog, Chatting Critically, including Tony Jeffs’ eloquent soliloquy on the demise of youth work in the UK.

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Jon Ord addresses the conference

Jon Ord, Associate Professor
University of St Mark & St John,

Apologies for not being able to bring myself together to make the closing address – I have found the experience of enabling such a rich and rewarding experience for so many people genuinely humbling and was more than a little overwhelmed… Below is what I wished to say:

Closing Address

I would like to say a few words to draw the conference to a close:

If I truly honest my best hope was that we averted a disaster… however, if I am to believe the kind words that many of you have shared with me over the last couple of days perhaps I can safely say it may have been somewhat of a success.

On more than the odd occasion, as some of you know, over the last year or so I had wished I had not had such a ‘bright idea’ but the feedback many of you have given me and seeing how much people seemed to have got out of meeting up here over the last few days it has genuinely made it all worthwhile – so I would sincerely like to thank you all for your involvement in the conference – in particular the spirit in which you have engaged in conversation and debate – it is you that have made it the success that it has been.

In particular, I would like thank to all those who have come from far and wide – here in the UK we really do not want to cut ourselves off from our neighbours and distant friends – despite what you may read and see… It is certainly the diversity of experiences in no small part that has enriched the 3 days.

I would also like to especially thank the speakers, chairs & panel members, there has been a really high standard of papers. And on that point, I would like to draw your attention to the possibility of submitting a paper for a special issue of a journal, either the Journal of Open Youth Work or the Journal of Applied Youth Studies.

On the subject of diversity of keynote speakers, I was left in an unfortunate position, as I approached seven people to speak at the conference – four women and three men. The four women all declined, so I was left with the three men. The original intention for the panel was two women and two men, one of the women could not be persuaded and was replaced by a man as he shared her perspective.

Two other points in terms of moving forward. Firstly given how much people seemed to have enjoyed the event it occurred to me that we may try and put on another event at some point – there no guarantees but it seems to be something that would be worth looking into.

Secondly, we have tried to capture all the talks on ‘Panopto’ (voice recording and slides) if this has been successful, we will firstly check if anyone objects to their talk being made public and then will upload them on to the post-conference website and it can then form a resource.

Finally please provide any feedback on the event directly to me at jord@marjon.ac.uk

By way of thanks, I would like to mention Clayton Thomas and Mercedes Farhad for their help with the programme, both of whom went the extra mile to produce such a high-quality programme – Mercedes even came in when she was ill and about to go on annual leave, to ensure we got it to the printers on time. I would also like to thank Mark Leather for sharing some of the lessons learnt from the hosting of the European Outdoor Education Seminar last year. Thank you also to the student ambassadors who have helped to ensure the smooth running of the conference and to catering for producing such fine ‘English’ fayre. I would also thank my Erasmus partners for their support.

There are two people who do however need special mention – firstly Tony Jeffs who has so generously shared the many years of experience that he and his colleagues Naomi Thomson, Tania de St Croix, Paula Connaughton and others at Youth & Policy have gleaned from organising and running conferences for many years – this event stands on both his and their shoulders.

One person needs singling out in particular however – for there is really only one person without whom this conference would never have taken place. It was somewhat foisted upon her and she had little say in whether she was to be involved. Furthermore, the timing was terrible as it clashed with the preparations for the biggest event of the year – graduation – however, she has always been 100% behind the project and does everything with a smile. Her attention to detail is exceptional, her organisational skills exemplary and as a colleague of mine Aaron Beacom said to me recently – she is totally unflappable. I would like you to show your warmest appreciation for Helen Thewliss.

I now declare this conference closed and wish you all a safe journey.

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The Impact of Youth Work in Europe: A Study of Five European Countries

This book is the culmination of an Erasmus+ funded project which aimed to independently identify the impact of youth work in the UK (England), Finland, Estonia, Italy and France. It applied a participatory evaluation methodology entitled ‘transformative evaluation’ which collated young people’s own accounts of the impact of youth work on their lives – collecting their stories. Over 700 stories were collected in total over a year-long process.

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Speakers from the five countries presenting the research findings to the conference

Find an e-book version of the study on this link

https://www.humak.fi/en/julkaisut/the-impact-of-youth-work-in-europe-a-study-of-five-european-countries/


 

Thanks to Stephen Dixon of Marjon for the photos.

Inequality in Australia: A Young Person’s Perspective

 

You will find below the link to a revealing piece of qualitative research from New South Wales, Australia. To what extent do you think this perspective resonates across the oceans?

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Inequality in Australia: A Young Person’s Perspective

Prepared by Youth Action and Western Sydney Regional Information and Research Service (WESTIR)

About Youth Action

Youth Action is the peak organisation representing young people and youth services in NSW. Our work helps build the capacity of young people, youth workers and youth services, and we advocate for positive change on issues affecting these groups.

It is the role of Youth Action to:

• Respond to social and political agendas relating to young people and the youth service sector.
• Provide proactive leadership and advocacy to shape the agenda on issues affecting young people and youth services.
• Collaborate on issues that affect young people and youth workers.
• Promote a positive profile in the media and the community of young people and youth services.
• Build capacity for young people to speak out and take action on issues that affect them.
• Enhance the capacity of the youth services sector to provide high quality services.
• Ensure Youth Action’s organisational development, efficiency, effectiveness and good

The conclusion of the research emphasises housing as the area of most entrenched inequality, which chimes with the concerns expressed by a group of young people I was chatting with in the North-West of England a few months ago – hardly robust evidence, I know but not without significance!

Equitable access to education, housing and employment was regarded as essential for leading a full and healthy life. Interestingly, of the three topics, housing was seen as the area with the most entrenched inequality, with no respondents citing that affordability or inequality was not an issue or calling for policy actions that might increase inequality. In the topics of education and employment, some young people argued for further privatisation and deregulation – policy approaches that arguably would increase existing inequalities. However, housing was viewed by all respondents as a fundamental right. Young people were worried about the future, seeing education as a pathway to gain the qualifications needed for a fulfilling, well-paying job, which would allow them to afford rent and maybe buy a house in the future. However, buying a house was a distant and perhaps impossible dream rather than something they could plan. The responses provided by young people to the three topics discussed here, education, employment, and housing, reveal a politically and socially engaged cohort who are concerned about equality, and who want to see a better future both for themselves and for generations to come.

International Seminar on Youth Work Education, Birmingham – September 20

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Newman University Youth and Community Work team are pleased to announce an international seminar on teaching youth work in higher education. The seminar is a result of a two year international Erasmus + funded strategic book editing partnership between Estonia; University of Tartu – Viljandi Culture Academy, University of Tartu – Nava College and the Estonian Youth Work Association. Finland; HUMAK University of Applied Social Sciences, and Newman University.

Friday, 21st September 2018 from 10.30-3.30 at Newman University, Birmingham UK

The seminar will focus on authors’ sharing of chapters and working methods in the morning and then move onto an afternoon of identifying inspirational moments in teaching youth work via a world café structure. Participants are invited to apply for a place at this seminar.  There will be a small charge of £5 to cover light lunch etc.

The seminar will bring together a range of experts from across Europe, to showcase the latest research on the education of Youth Work, including publication of the textbook (due April 2019) from Youth Work education in UK, Finland, Estonia.

This will be the first major International seminar to specifically address the issue of youth worker education from the three partner countries. The purpose of the seminar will be to promote the textbook and to stimulate debate and discussion about the process of youth work education within the higher education field. The seminar is open to youth workers; youth work academics and trainers as well as policy makers.”

for more details contact Pauline Grace on p.grace@newman.ac.uk

or to book a place contact Carol Ferrran on c.ferran@newman.ac.uk

Contribute to the Labour Party Consultation, ‘Building a Statutory Youth Service’

Following our concern about the tone of Labour’s proposed revival of youth services – Reviving Youth Work as Soft-Policing: Labour Party Policy? and Bernard Davies responds to Labour’s skewed youth work vision  – we want to motivate contributions to the Party’s consultation on youth services. The content of the consultation document is much more encouraging than the initial press releases.

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Youth services do a vital job in our communities. The benefits they provide for young people are real and long-lasting. However, with direct government funding to local authorities falling by a half since 2010, youth services have seen significant cutbacks as councils seek to make savings. This means that a generation of young people could potentially be left without the opportunity to play a full part in our communities.

Thank you for taking part in the consultation process. Whether you’re a Labour Party member or not, we want to hear your ideas on how the next Labour government should tackle the challenges our country faces, and build a more equal Britain for the many, not the few.

In order to contribute go to the link below, where you can use an embedded submission box or e-mail youthservices@labour.org.uk. 

https://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/commissions/education/youth-services?ua=submission

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To access a copy of the consultation document, go to https://www.scribd.com/document/385206130/Youth-Services-Consultation?secret_password=Yae5LKPVH5u34jRM05KM#from_embed

The consultation period ends on November 12, 2018

 

 

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.

 

Bernard Davies responds to Labour’s skewed youth work vision

Further to our post questioning the direction of the recent Labour Party commitment to youth services, Reviving Youth Work as Soft-Policing: Labour Party Policy? you will find below a letter to the Guardian from Bernard Davies, which was sadly not published.

 

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Bernard listens attentively to Jon Ord – ta to Justin Wylie for the photo

TO THE GUARDIAN

A commitment by one of the main political parties to require councils to provide a minimum level of local youth provision (‘Labour vows to rebuild youth services’, 31 July) is to be welcomed after the way those services have been devastated under ‘austerity’. As a sign that it is taking this seriously, it is good to know, too, that it has commissioned its own research to support other findings that council spending on these services has fallen by at least 50% since 2012.

For those of us who were involved in youth work before all this started, however, Labour’s rationale for its policy in very depressing. Without in any way denying the importance of tackling youth crime, and in particular knife crime, it is surely worth restating that most of the up to nearly 30% of the 10-15 age group who were using or sampling youth work facilities in 2013 were not actual or even potential criminals. Whether they engaged as a member of a now abandoned club or through a now closed-down detached work project, the work started from the interests and concerns they brought with them and had unashamedly educational and developmental goals. It thus assumed their potential and sought to encourage and support them to go, not just to where they’d never been before, but to where, individually and with their peers, they might never have dreamed of going. Along the way, of course, the practice might also often turn out to be ‘preventative’ of all sorts of less positive outcomes.

Why is a party which claims to be breaking out of the dominant neo-liberal ways of making policy adopting such unimaginative, conformist and indeed negative aspirations in its approach to this, for young people, crucial area of public services?

Sincerely,

Bernard Davies

Clearly, it is incumbent on us to respond to the Labour Party [LP] consultation led by Cat Smith, the party’s shadow youth minister. We’ll do a separate post this week explaining how to make a submission. It’s not necessary to be an LP member to be involved.