Tony Taylor denies doing an MA in Entrepreneurial Philanthropy and being headhunted for a CEO Third Sector job


Be not disturbed! There is no basis for the rum rumour that I have embraced neoliberalism and applied to do an MA in Entrepreneurial Philanthropy after being head-hunted for the post of CEO of an unnamed leading Youth Surveillance charity. Although I’m a trifle disappointed not to be asked. This wicked whopper is the work evidently of a mole, who overheard me start a sentence, ‘neoliberalism brought remarkable technological development’ and hallucinated on the spot, thus missing the caveat, ‘yet has widened and deepened inequality’. In addition, it seems the reporting rodent got wind of a discussion at the last IDYW Steering Group meeting, within which I talked of withdrawing from my role as Coordinator. Putting 2 and 2 together the creature came up with a formula, if not for a nerve agent one that indicated I was on the verge of betraying the cause and marketing my inner soul.

Seriously though – you would hope there’s no need for such an opening cliched clause, but nowadays, who can be sure? –  there is a hint of truth in the tall tale. At our last Steering Group, we did discuss our collective capacity to keep the IDYW train on track, within which my ability to contribute was of concern. I indicated that because of, amongst other things, continuing personal pressures I was struggling to fulfil the coordinating role.

It is important to situate this ongoing dilemma in the context outlined in an IDYW statement posted in July 2016, IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK: LESS A CAMPAIGN, MORE A FORUM OF CRITICAL DEBATE?  It’s well worth revisiting in full, but a few lines are pertinent to this discussion.

Our existence is haunted by contradictions and concerns. On a practical level, the IDYW show is kept on the road through the efforts of a small group of volunteers. Of course, this is neither a surprise nor a slight on those unable to be more involved. These remain difficult times. Workers, paid or unpaid, have little time on their hands. Whether disillusioned and weary or optimistic and energetic, it’s a stressful place to be. In this forbidding climate, we have failed to become the campaign group of our imagination.

On reflection, our most important contribution across our lifespan has been to provide a space, increasingly denied elsewhere, for a collective and thoughtful discussion about the state of youth work. We have sought to provide information, commentary, analysis and research to support this process. To do so is in the best tradition of a practice, which aspires to be reflective.


To cut the story short the present consequence of our effort to think things through is as follows:

as Coordinator, from now, I will only be working one day a week on a Monday for IDYW [in terms of research, maintaining the website,  commenting on FB, answering e-mails]; that there will only be one post on the IDYW website each week, ‘Sustenance for the Senses’, which will bring together links to news/information/analysis about the world of youth work and beyond.

– that, alongside this reduced commitment I’ll go at my own pace in terms of other writing I have been asked or wish to do.  If anything worthwhile comes out of this usually tortuous process I’ll put it on my blog at Critically Chatting and draw attention to its appearance on the IDYW site and Facebook.

The Steering Group is to meet on Friday, June 15 in Manchester to explore whether the above experiment in reducing expectations on the Coordinator makes any sense and to draw up a strategy for keeping IDYW alive and kicking. These meetings are always open so further details regarding the venue will be posted in good time.

Our July 2016 post ended on the following note, which retains its pertinence.

Obviously, we hope that you will be both contributor [to] and reader [of the IDYW debates], actively engaged, in the light of your own energy and resources. Whatever we deem ourselves to be, we need one another in a struggle to defend not only youth work, but a belief in a holistic education from cradle to grave, a commitment to a radical praxis and the common good. In this context IDYW still has a useful role to play.

As ever your thoughts and criticisms welcomed.




Is the tide turning? An IDYW initiative that means little without you.



Is the tide turning?

Policy proposals for youth work: A discussion paper.

                                         In Defence of Youth Work, Summer 2017


It is likely that local authority youth services will have disappeared by 2020. Yet in the aftermath of the 2017 general election, there are renewed possibilities for state-supported open youth work. This discussion paper will argue that progressive, political parties, focused on the common good rather than private interest, should make an explicit commitment to open, universal, all year round youth work. In order to put this commitment into practice, the following questions need further discussion:

  • Should local authority youth services be reopened, or are there different ways that state-supported youth work can be organised?
  • What principles should underpin the revival of open youth work?
  • How can these changes be made feasible in terms of funding, infrastructure and staffing?

We encourage you to discuss these questions informally and in organised groups, with young people, colleagues, students, friends, policy makers, decision makers, campaigners and activists. We are conscious that our thinking relates most directly to youth work in England and Wales, but hope that its argument will have resonance for practitioners in Scotland and Northern Ireland. All feedback will be greatly valued.


isthetideturningfinal – the discussion paper in full {WORD}

isthe tideturningfinal – the discussion paper in full {PDF}

A Provisional Timetable of Activity

We are looking to use the National Youth Work Week, November 6 – 12, as a point of reference, especially as its theme is:

Youth Services: youth work for today and tomorrow

Our hope is that a diversity of local and regional meetings will take place in and around this week, although not necessarily so. For the moment we are not envisaging an explicitly national event. Thus, from now, we are taking a two-pronged approach.

  1. We are approaching specific people to act as organisers of regional gatherings.
  2. We are hoping very much that this initiative will resonate with our readers/supporters and that you will feel moved to organise meetings at a local level, however small or large. To repeat, please feel free to get your act together as you think fit.

On Wednesday we will post a proposal offering a possible template based on the discussion paper, which might be useful as you get your head around planning a meeting.

In some ways, our ‘Is the tide turning?’ initiative is a test of our collective energy and sense of purpose. We believe together we can rise to the challenge. We hope you agree.

‘The idea of an educated public’: ‘One can only think for oneself if one does not think by oneself’ [Alasdair McIntyre (1987)]

For more information and to let us know you are throwing your questioning hat into the ring of critical debate, contact





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]

Over 3,000 folk follow In Defence of Youth Work on Facebook

To keep non-Facebook followers in the picture I posted this message on Facebook at the weekend.



Pauline Grace is ecstatic as Fin Cullen reveals the number of IDYW Facebook followers! Ta to Justin Wyllie for the brilliant image


Just a note to say that as of now the IDYW Facebook group membership has passed the 3,000 mark – 3,046 to be exact. From its humble beginnings on the back of a 2009 Open Letter, which sought both to criticise and oppose the undermining of open, young people-centred, process-led youth work, it has developed, I think, into the most active and pluralist forum of information and debate in the UK. There was a time when the majority of posts came by way of me. That narrow source has long been surpassed. In recent years more and more people have contributed under their own steam, sparking off unexpected and challenging threads of discussion. Indeed this developing diversity flies in the face of those, who, when it suits, peddle the myth, that IDYW is no more than a bunch of moaners trapped in the past. It is true, though, that a few of us might well be put out to pasture, but for the time being, we’ll carry on mucking in. And as evidence that our collective thoughts remain relevant, look out this week for news of a significant piece of European research led by a Finnish university, inspired by our IDYW cornerstones and our Story-Telling approach to interrogating practice.
In the meantime sincere thanks for your critical support, involvement and solidarity.

The Facebook page is to be found at

Brighton Campaign Protect Youth Services video

As the campaign nears its climax a measured video narrated by Adam Muirhead, which steers clear of simply using the preventative argument. Adam will be contributing to our national conference on March 17.

FEB 23 PYS Protest – Budget Council Meeting 

Hove Town Hall
Norton Road, BN3 2 Hove – 16:00–18:00

Brighton and Hove Council make their final decision about the cuts to the youth service budget at this meeting. This is our final bid to fight for young people’s services – let’s make it a big event. Please join us, share the event and spread the word. Bring your banners and voices – Protect Youth Services!

Keeping IDYW alive – divvying up the tasks


Not that exciting, but necessary. Today in Leamington Spa we’re holding an IDYW Steering Group meeting. Its primary purpose is to work out the best way of keeping the show on the road. As we reported at conference the burden is falling in the main on a few shoulders. Hence we are going to look at how we divide up the diversity of IDYW tasks and how we make sure that our readers/supporters are kept fully in the picture about what we’re up to. In particular we need to keep working at how we involve more people actively in our affairs. The increasing contribution to debate being made on Facebook is something of an inspiration as well as being full of its own ‘likeist’ contradictions.

Hoping to post an upbeat and hopeful report next week. Even a video of the Steering Group in chorus and then again, perhaps not.


Ta to

Best wishes and solidarity to all.

Let’s meet locally and regionally – a new initiative


Bernard Davies and Malcolm Ball setting a date for the next meeting

Ever since our emergence we’ve wanted to encourage local and regional IDYW involvement. Indeed our revised 2014 Statement of Purpose reflected that,

Apart from London and the North-East we have been much less successful in encouraging the flowering of local and regional IDYW groups. This is a major weakness. In truth it means we are a campaign with an appreciative, but largely passive following, relying on the endeavours of a small number of activists to keep the flame burning.

And in reality the London and North-East efforts were not sustained.

However Colin Brent from the IDYW steering group has made a bid, initially on Facebook, to have a fresh crack at bringing people together.

Hi everyone, I’m thinking tentatively about organising some semi-regular seminars (once every three months?) for youth workers and other friends of IDYW to discuss issues around youth work. These would take place in London, be free and open to all and hopefully create a space for people to come together. Is there any interest in this or any ideas of themes? I would like to do one on the ethics of banning young people from youth provision. I look forward to hearing people’s views.

There has been a lively response from the South-East, Yorkshire, Liverpool, Cumbria and Dorset, where cream cakes are being offered as an incentive. However everyone recognises that making this happen, finding the time and energy, is easier said than done. With this in mind we are thinking we should explore this issue together at the IDYW conference on September 30 in Birmingham.

In the meantime Colin is organising a meeting, probably on Friday, November 18 in the metropolis, whilst Tracey Ramsey Lhu is hoping to hold a gathering on the same date in Liverpool. They will be liaising on how the two events might collaborate. More information to follow.

Thanks to Colin for the kick up the backside and to once more encourage supporters to think seriously about meeting and gathering strength from each other.

When two or three are gathered together – in coffee bar or hostelry – we render collective our criticism and resistance. Make a date with your fellow workers. You know it makes sense. (A.N. Other, 2016)

PS The Institute for Youth Work via Adam Muirhead has indicated that it is keen to collaborate in setting up/supporting local and regional meetings under whatever umbrella.