C. Wright Mills : Personal Troubles and Public Issues a century on


It’s a hundred years since the birth of C. Wright Mills, the radical American sociologist and activist, whose work continues to retain much of its relevance . Hence it’s an appropriate moment to link to an excellent piece by Mark Smith on the Infed site.

C. Wright Mills: power, craftsmanship, and private troubles and public issues

Mark ends on a note that resonates with today’s often uncritical acceptance of the targeted, behavioural modification agenda to be found within a great deal of work with young people.

For informal educators and those working in the social professions, his critique of the professional ideology of social pathology (wherein informal educators and social workers  focus on individual adjustment rather than structural change) remains highly pertinent [my addition in bold].  But perhaps the best way of remembering his contribution is the advice he gives in the closing paragraphs of the The Sociological Imagination:

‘Do not allow public issues as they are officially formulated, or troubles as they are privately felt, to determine the problems that you take up for study. Above all, do not give up your moral and political autonomy by accepting in somebody else’s terms the illiberal practicality of the bureaucratic ethos or the liberal practicality of the moral scatter. Know that many personal troubles cannot be solved merely as troubles, but must be understood in terms of public issues – and in terms of the problems of history making. Know that the human meaning of public issues must be revealed by relating them to personal troubles – and to the problems of the individual life. Know that the problems of social science, when adequately formulated, must include both troubles and issues, both biography and history, and the range of their intricate relations. Within that range the life of the individual and the making of societies occur; and within that range the sociological imagination has its chance to make a difference in the quality of human life in our time.’ (Mills 1959: 226)

Benchmark for Youth & Community Work – consultation


Ta to artlink.ca.za

At first glance this might not seem riveting reading, but in truth the efforts of the review group, chaired by Janet Batsleer,  deserve our serious attention.

Following the committee stage, the subject benchmarks for Youth and Community Work are now open for public consultation via Survey Monkey by following this link:https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/TP9TKPV

Contributions to the consultation are invited from anyone with an interest in higher education in the UK, including representatives from all four countries; prospective, current and past students; staff from the full range of higher education providers, including academic staff and staff with responsibilities for quality assurance; and from employers, who depend upon the abilities, skills and knowledge of graduates.

Subject Benchmark Statement
Youth and Community Work: Draft for consultation

POYWE LOGBOOK 2 focuses on youth work and young refugees


The second issue of the LOGBOOK E-Magazine on Professional Open Youth Work is out now. The main topic of this issue is open youth work and young refugees – read perspectives from Austria, Croatia, Germany and Sweden and much more.

The situation of young refugees in Europe is critical in regards to their access to human rights, their participation and their status when they turn 18. Youth work needs support in terms of capacity or funding, coalition building and having a voice in discussions concerning young refugees.

We also present again the current situation of our field of action in some countries – this time the spotlight is on Austria, Malta and Norway.

Voices from a young person and a youth worker from Lithuania, how to become a detached youth worker in The Netherlands and how to bridge the gap between research and practice in youth work round off this issue.

Enjoy and tell us what you think!

The perils of social investment in the youth sector


Speaking of the Centre for Youth Impact as we did in our last post, the centre is organising with Learning South West a seminar, ‘The potential of social investment in the youth sector’ on Thursday 25 February 2016 from 10.30 am – 2.30 pm at Bishops Hull House, Bishops Hull, Taunton.

The publicity goes as follows:

The seminar is aimed at youth sector organisations and professionals who might be
considering social investment as a way of developing their offer to young people. It draws
on the experience of a panel of speakers with knowledge and experience of what social
investment can offer, and the challenges it presents for providers and commissioners.
Speakers include:
 Alex Meagher: Centre for Social Impact Bonds, Cabinet Office
 David Floyd: Social Spider CIC, researcher and writer on social enterprise and
social investment
 Kevin Munday: Managing Director, thinkforward, currently operating a social
impact bond
 Miriam Furze: Project Oracle
The seminar will include an introduction to possible uses of social investment and inputs
from those with experience of using it to support work with young people. We will discuss
ways to use social investment in the youth sector in the South West and beyond as well as
considering the risks and challenges for organisations contemplating social investment

To reserve a place please email your completed booking form to Jane Shipton by Monday
15 February.
Email: jane_shipton@learning-southwest.org.uk

Our slight alteration to the title of the seminar replacing ‘potential’ with ‘perils’ is not facetious. Whilst the blurb talks of risks it’s not clear who will lead the exploration of what is meant by risks. As far as we can see no one on the panel is well-known for a trenchant critique of what is a highly contested way of financing social projects, often referred to as a ‘Pay for Success’ bond. In the meantime we hope IDYW supporters in the South-West will get to the gathering. We would love to hear  your assessment of what’s going on. If we can get our act together we might knock together some thoughts on the  birth and history of social investment thus far. As one critic observes, “of course the underlying driver for Social Impact Bonds derives from neoliberal ideology – to marketise, commercialise, privatise and corporatise the world.”

A call to add your voice to the Centre for Youth Impact

We are encouraging practitioners to respond to this call. Obviously we are especially supportive of contributions that ask searching questions of the outcome and impact agenda with its problematic effect on the nature of the work we do. At this moment we’ll forward our critique of outcomes and our pieces in Youth & Policy 115, which focus on Youth Development and non-formal education.


Add your voice to the Centre for Youth Impact

We want the Centre to become a platform for discussion, an entry point to conversation around impact measurement and a place where anyone involved in work with young people can help shape the future of the impact agenda.

By seeking contributions from across and beyond the youth sector, our aim is to encourage collaboration and debate and to support the ongoing conversation.

What we’re looking for

We’re looking for contributions to both our website and our monthly e-bulletin. Examples could include:

  • News items
  • Invitations to training and events
  • Blogs or opinion pieces
  • Articles for inclusion on the Centre website
  • Suggestions for resources to add to our Resource Hub

We’d also like to share case studies of different approaches to understanding impact, and how this has influenced practice.

Get involved
If you have something to say about impact measurement in the youth sector, we want to hear from you.

Unions clash with Employers over the Pink Book

Fight For JNC

Inevitably the youth and community work trade unions have responded angrily to the employers’ intention to scrap JNC.

CYPN reports:

Public sector unions say the plans by local government and voluntary sector employers to end the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) agreement for youth and community support workers could see the terms and conditions and professional standing of youth workers undermined.

But employers say recent cuts to the number of workers covered by the JNC pay deal means there is “no case” for continuing with a separate national bargaining arrangement, and that youth workers will be moved to the same terms and conditions as other local government staff.

Read more at Unions slam employers’ plans to scrap youth work pay settlement 

Meanwhile, the National Youth Agency is to hold a meeting to discuss the implications that scrapping of the JNC has on youth worker qualifications and training later this month.

Employers represented on the JNC include the LGA, the Welsh Government Association and the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS). Employees are represented by Unite, Unison, the National Union of Teachers, and the University and College Union. 

In fact this significant meeting is to take place on February 11th, the day before our seminar, ‘What does it mean to be Professional in 2016?’ to be held in Manchester. At least one of our contributors will be involved in this discussion, meaning we will be hearing straight from the horse’s mouth what has transpired.

There are still places left for our seminar on February 12, which promises to be lively and bang up-to-date. Get in touch with Tony at tonymtaylor@gmail.com to grab a seat at the proceedings.

Save Camden and Dorset Youth Services

It is difficult to find fresh words to describe the continuing assault on Youth Services across the country.

Save Camden

What is happening?

The council has approved a widespread cuts package, including massive £1.6 million cuts to youth services which already suffered  £2.3  million of cuts in 2012. This will leave the service over 60% worse off in real terms than in 2011. We believe this will have a significant detrimental impact on young people in Camden as opportunities and positive activities will be slashed.

Here are the headline changes:

  • £1.6 million in funding cuts
  • 64% cut in universal youth service provision
  • closure of two youth centres
  • closure of the COOL project funding activities for low income young people
  • closure of the Under 25’s Advice Centre
  • 70% budget cut to Connexions careers and jobs support for young people
  • further cuts to the youth offending service
  • 25 to 30 full-time equivalent jobs lost


What can you do about it?

Camden UNISON has launched a campaign against the cuts: Save Camden Youth Services. Here is how you can support the campaign:

Find out more

More information is available about the campaign in the following links:


Meanwhile more bad news from Dorset. We’ve received this message.

If you are in Dorchester this Wednesday –

Cabinet meeting 10 a.m, 13th January Dorchester county hall… last chance to save any youth clubs in dorset. “Giving the buildings to interested parties” – providing no staff or professional line management for any and placing whatever full time youth workers left in schools. I feel its a done deal really but hopefully there is enough people there to make their voices heard – an accident waiting to happen. Sad times