REVIVING YOUTH WORK AND REIMAGINING A YOUTH SERVICE : IDYW STARTING POINTS

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Find below the 16 Starting Points, which reflect our IDYW interpretation of the rich debates held both under the ‘Is the tide turning?’ banner and at our March national conference. We hope that you will find them useful as a reference point, as an aide-memoire, in the diversity of meetings you’ll find yourself in during the coming, perhaps turbulent months. The Starting Points leaflet, available in Word, was well received at Monday’s Chooseyouth event. Obviously, given the pluralist character of IDYW, we’re not expecting anyone to slavishly follow these to the letter. Indeed initial critical reaction focused on point 11 and the issue of appropriate pay and conditions.

 

IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK – STARTING POINTS*

REVIVING YOUTH WORK AND REIMAGINING A YOUTH SERVICE

  1. Youth Work’s fundamental aspiration is profoundly educational, political and universal. It seeks to nurture the questioning, compassionate young citizen committed to the development of a socially just and democratic society. It is not a soft-policing instrument of social control.
  2. YouthWork as an integral element in education from cradle to grave should be situated in the Department for Education.
  3. The rejuvenation of a distinctive, state-supported Youth Work focused on inclusive, open access provision needs to be based on a radically different and complementary relationship between the Local Authority and a pluralist, independent voluntary sector.
  4. The renewed practice needs to be sustained by statutory and consistent funding, the purpose and allocation of which ought to be determined locally via accountable mechanisms, such as a democratic Youth Work ‘council’ made up of young people, youth workers, voluntary sector representatives, managers and politicians.
  5. Collaborative work across agencies is vital, but youth workers need to retain their identity and autonomy rather than be absorbed into multi-disciplinary teams.
  6. Youth Work should be associational and conversational, opposed to oppression and exploitation, collective rather than just individual in its intent, unfolding at a pace in tune with the forging of authentic and trusting relationships with young people.
  7. Cornerstones of practice should include the primacy of the voluntary relationship; a critical dialogue starting from young people’s agendas; support for young people’s autonomous activity, for example, work with young women, Black and Minority Ethnic and LGBTQ+ young people; an engagement with the ‘here and now’; the nurturing of young people-led democracy; and the significance of the skilled, improvisatory worker.
  8. The informed focus on young people’s needs flowing from open access provision is more effective than imposed, targeted work in reaching ‘vulnerable’ youth.
  9. Youth Work does not write a script of prescribed outcomes in advance of meeting a young person. It trusts in a person-centred, process-led practice that is positive and unique, producing outcomes that are sometimes simple, sometimes complex, often unexpected and often longitudinal. Practice must be evaluated and accountable, but not distorted by the drive for data, the desire to measure the intangible.
  10. Training and continuous professional development, particularly through the discipline of supervision, via the HE institutions and local providers is essential for full-time, part-time and volunteer workers in ensuring the quality of practice.
  11. JNC and other nationally agreed pay scales and conditions need to be defended and extended. However, a respectful engagement with the differing cultures and employment practices of voluntary and faith organisations, with the contradictions of professionalisation, is required. The emergence of independent social enterprise initiatives cannot be ignored.
  12. Closer links need to be renewed and created between the Youth Work training agencies, regional Youth Work units and research centres.
  13. Youth Work needs advocates at a national level, such as the NYA and Institute for Youth Work, but these must be prepared to be voices of criticism and dissent.
  14. Irrespective of Brexit, Youth Work ought to embrace the Declaration of the 2nd European Youth Work Convention [2015] and be internationalist in outlook.
  15. The National Citizen Service ought to be closed or curtailed, its funding transferred into all-year round provision, of which summer activities will be a part.
  16. The renaissance we urge hinges on a break from the competitive market and the self-centred individualism of neoliberalism and the [re]creation of a Youth Work dedicated to cooperation and the common good.

*These starting points are developed from the themes of the extensive Is the Tide Turning consultation IDYW engaged in over the last year, and discussions at our Annual Conference in March 2018

REVIVING YOUTH WORK AND REIMAGINING A YOUTH SERVICE2 – Word version.

Please photocopy and circulate as you think fit. Thanks.

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

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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.

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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.

 

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Is the tide turning?

Policy proposals for youth work: A discussion paper.

                                         In Defence of Youth Work, Summer 2017

Summary

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.

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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 isthetideturning@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/90307668820/

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

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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.

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Ta to ptinterest.com

Best wishes and solidarity to all.