IS THE TIDE TURNING? A SUMMARY OF CONSENSUS AND CONCERN

 

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Tania, Bernard, Tony and Kev present the summary in Leeds. It has been revised as below in the light of the debate

 

You will find below our summary of the diverse discussion that has taken place around the question of whether the youth work tide is turning. Events were held in Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff, Cumbria, Derby, Doncaster, Huddersfield, Lancaster, London Manchester, Northampton and Warwickshire. We hope you will find it stimulating and useful.  In particular, we hope it will encourage you to be with us at our national conference on Friday, March 9 in Birmingham. If this is not possible, we would still welcome your critical thoughts.

 

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ta to repeatingislands.com

 

IS THE TIDE TURNING? A DRAFT SUMMARY OF CONSENSUS AND CONCERN

‘No More Hot Dogs! We deserve better food!’ [Young People’s group, Northampton]

In and around Youth Work Week 2017, In Defence of Youth Work [IDYW] organised in partnership with a range of other organisations and institutions a series of events entitled, ‘Is the tide turning?’ These gatherings, comprising differing numbers of volunteers, workers, managers, students, academics and young people, sought to grapple with the question of whether a new political climate, perhaps more favourable to youth work, was emerging. Over 250 people were involved in the process.

Inevitably the discussions were haunted by the past and continued dismembering of Local Authority [LA] youth services, accompanied by widespread accommodation to government diktat, whilst at one and the same time being informed by innovative efforts to keep informal youth work alive.

Against this rich backcloth of commentary on the present state of play, this paper marks another stage in the attempt to identify a set of proposals for the future, which could be used in dialogue with what we term the progressive wing of British politics, those parties indicating a willingness to ditch neoliberalism and austerity – the Labour Party, the Greens, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and increasingly the Liberal Democrats. By neoliberalism, we mean the forcible imposition of market relations upon public services, an unswerving belief in the imperative of competition and self-centred individualism, underpinned by a deep-seated hostility to social solidarity. In our opinion these fundamentals of neoliberalism are utterly at odds with a young person-centred, process-led, cooperative and collective youth work.

The following is a second draft, following further exploration at a February Youth&Policy conference in Leeds, which will be taken to the ninth IDYW national conference at the beginning of March. The responses to the key questions posed are divided into those of possible consensus and those of potential contradiction.

It is important to emphasise that this summary is our best effort at capturing in a concise form the main elements of the debate. It does not represent in some way an In Defence of Youth Work position. It represents the material that has to be taken into account if IDYW is to formulate a clear and cutting perspective of its own. Indeed our national conference will be asked directly to grapple with the question of whether IDYW is capable of doing so.

 

Should Local Authority youth services be reopened, or are there different ways that state-supported youth work can be organised?

We should note that several groups felt that the question ought to have been ‘Should Local Authority youth services be reopened and are there different ways that state-supported youth work can be organised?’

Points of consensus:

  • There is significant support for the reawakening of youth work within Local Authorities, which is not necessarily the same as the reopening of the Local Authority youth service. The rejuvenation of a distinctive, state-supported youth work focused on inclusive, open access provision in centres and on the streets, together with targeted interventions emerging from this provision, is seen as flowing from a radical and complementary partnership between the local authority and a diverse and pluralist voluntary sector. There is no question of returning to what went before.
  • The specific character of the provision should be decided at a local level via ways of organising that eschew the hierarchy and bureaucracy often associated with LA Youth Services, insisting on the democratic involvement of young people and the community, alongside politicians, officers, workers and, very importantly, representatives from the voluntary youth sector with status and ‘clout’.
  • Inter-agency working is seen as vital. However youth workers should retain their independence rather than being absorbed into inter-agency teams/schools/youth justice with a subsequent loss of identity. A community development approach is seen as important.
  • It is recognised that we need to explore the success or otherwise of alternative models of provision born out of the demolition of LA Youth Services, such as mutuals, foundations and youth boards, the role of Town and Parish councils, not forgetting the reasons for survival of some Youth Services, such as Nottinghamshire. IDYW is at present collecting a range of case studies to inform this exploration.
  • Youth Work as informal education should return to its home in the Department of Education.
  • Even as Brexit looms youth work should increasingly have an international and global dimension.
  • More action research needs to be done on the emergence of digital youth work.

Points of concern and contradiction:

  • There is concern that there is no turning back, the shifts and changes, the loss of buildings precluding a renaissance.
  • There is anxiety and suspicion about a possible return to Local Authority regulation and dominance. For example the growth in recent years of a vibrant LBTQ network owes much to its independence from the stifling ‘new managerialism’, often dominant in LA’s.
  • There is a feeling that youth work’s identity has been eroded to the extent that we now describe in our anxiety more or less any form of work with young people as youth work. The case for youth work as a distinctive practice is being weakened by the understandable shift in recent years to ‘blurring the boundaries’ between it and, for example, youth social work, youth justice, pastoral care and youth counselling.

 

What principles should underpin the revival of open youth work?

Points of consensus:

  • The IDYW cornerstones of practice are seen as a sound basis, namely the primacy of the voluntary relationship; a critical dialogue starting from young people’s agendas; support for young people’s autonomous activity; engaging with the ‘here and now’; the nurturing of young people-led democracy; and the significance of the skilled, improvisatory worker.
  • Open youth work should be universal, accessible and inclusive, which does not mean that, for example, specific work with young women, BME and LGBTQ young people is at odds with this principle. It should be associational, conversational and relational, opposed to oppression and exploitation, collective rather than individual in its intent.
  • Ironically it needs to be understood that open access, universal provision is more effective than imposed, targeted work in reaching young people, suffering from the consequences of social policies antagonistic to their needs.
  • It needs to be recognised that youth work outcomes are complex and longitudinal as well as simple and immediate. This is the context, within which questions of impact, measurement and judgement need to be debated.
  • Youth Work’s fundamental aspiration is profoundly educational and political – to play its part in the nurturing of the questioning, compassionate young citizen, whose existence is essential to democracy and the common good.

Points of concern and contradiction:

  • Today’s emphasis on ‘safe spaces’ is in tension with ‘taking risks’, threatening to sanitise practice.
  • The dominant tendency to claim that youth work is preventative, for example, reducing anti-social behaviour, together with the attempted monetisation of its interventions, undermines the educational ethos of practice.
  • The standards for youth workers recently circulated by the NYA with their emphasis on behaviours, structured programmes and activities lacks any recognition of the improvised, conversational practice at the heart of open youth work.
  • A significant number of workers have embraced rather than resisted both a behavioural, individualised practice and been seduced by the attraction of structured day-time employment. Is the tradition of improvisatory youth work being fatally undermined?
  • Given limited resources, some voices within the debate argue for prioritising the needs of the vulnerable rather than reasserting the universal.

 

How can these changes be made feasible in terms of funding, infrastructure and staffing?

Points of consensus:

  • There is strong support for a statutory and sustained stream of central and local government funding, informed by a formula based on a specified age range with weightings for disadvantage/deprivation. However both the age range and the character of the weightings needs further debate. In terms of the former, arguments are made to reduce the lower age to 9/10 years old, the upper age to 25.
  • However, the purpose and allocation of this funding should be decided at a local level through democratic mechanisms, which favour cooperation rather than competition in terms of distribution and which identify processes of accountability, which value the qualitative above the quantitative.
  • The National Citizen Service should be cut or even closed and its funding ploughed into all-year round youth work, which might well include summer activities and residentials.
  • Dedicated young people’s spaces are vital, within which dissent is valued. Street work should be expanded. Mobile resources should be developed, particularly in rural areas.
  • JNC terms and conditions should return to being the foundation for workers employed by local authorities. Youth Work should be reasserted as a profession in its own right.
  • Training and continuous professional development at a Local Authority level is essential and again should be open to significant local influence. Level One to Three training course with flexibility in terms of the curriculum should be available to both paid and voluntary workers from all youth organisations in an authority. Confident, skilled workers are crucial.
  • Supervision of workers should be prioritised as the creative means through which practice is interpreted, enhanced and judged.
  • The revival of staff meetings as a collective and supportive reference point is vital.
  • Much closer links should be built with the youth work training agencies, regional youth work units and research centres, including the Centre for Youth Impact, whilst the NYA should reassert its role as a national, critical youth work voice.
  • The renewed local authority youth service in its plurality and totality should have a public relations strategy aimed at the wider community and politicians.

Points of concern and contradiction:

  • There is a real danger of underestimating the damage done to the infrastructure and morale of workers by the prolonged assault on youth services across the country. In some areas workers are reduced to ’fire-fighting and crisis intervention’.
  • The ‘ metric’ world of commissioning, outsourcing and competition, the insidious presence of the market within the work, is seen as simply normal.
  • The insistence on JNC as the reference for qualification, pay and conditions, together with the notion of a closed profession [the license to practice] sit uneasily with the past and present situation, whereby in reality a range of pay scales and qualifications are to be found, together with a host of experienced and capable voluntary and paid workers from other backgrounds.
  • Insufficient attention has been given to the role of supposed philanthropy in the creation of provision, witness the Onside Youth Zones initiative, funded by a mix of private and state finance, which advocates for open youth work, even though it emerges on the back of closures and cuts.

 

There are no conclusions to this summary as it remains the subject of continued debate. Indeed, separate from how it might be used within IDYW, we think it has merit as a catalyst for discussion in all manner of youth work situations, from team meetings to training courses.

However, from an IDYW point of view, we hope that it will stimulate the reader to attend our national conference or failing that to send any thoughts/ criticisms to Tony Taylor at tonymtaylor@gmail.com

 

The IDYW tide turning Y&P 2nd draft in Word for printing/circulating. Thanks.

 

Community Engagement: What’s the Problem? The new Winter CONCEPT explores

CONCEPT

A warm welcome to the Winter edition of CONCEPT, the Community Education Journal, which explores what we mean by Community Engagement. In particular, the articles guide us towards the rewarding reader, Community Engagement: A Critical Guide for Practitioners, written by Mae Shaw and Jim Crowther.

Community engagement is generally assumed to operate for the
good of various kinds of communities, but it’s not as straightforward
as that. Thinking politically about community engagement means
delving beneath the surface claims it makes for itself to ask questions
about what it’s really for. What is its purpose? This means looking
at how it’s funded, for what and why? Who is considered to be
‘the community’ and who is not? Who benefits and who loses out?
Engagement on whose terms? How can communities operate within
these circumstances to shift the balance of power in their favour?
These are all questions that raise political issues

 

CURRENT ISSUE

Vol 8 No 3 (2017): Winter

LGBT History Month – Educational resources

About LGBT History Month

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Throughout February this year the theme is Geography: Mapping the World. We will be commemorating two rather sombre events; the 30th anniversary of the passing of Section 28, which prohibited local authorities from disseminating materials that ‘promoted homosexuality’ in schools; and the fortieth anniversary of the murder by shooting of Harvey Milk, the USA’s first out-gay elected councillor. On a happier note, the rainbow flag was launched upon an unsuspecting public in 1978, although sadly its creator Gilbert Baker passed away last year. And 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Sarah Waters’ classic Tipping the Velvet

We look forward to this year when we will focus on ‘Geography: Mapping the World’, especially now that our friends in Australia and up to 16 more central and south American nations will be able to enjoy same-sex weddings.

RESOURCES

LGBT resource

The Proud Trust is thrilled to bring you the LGBT History Month Resource and Education Pack for 2018, in conjunction with Schools OUT UK. We’re also delighted that Stuart Milk, nephew of Harvey, co-founder of Harvey Milk Foundation and international LGBT rights campaigner, has also contributed, by writing the foreword.

This three session pack will help you bring LGBT awareness into your youth groups or classrooms, and could be delivered as part of PSHE, history or geography! This year’s pack has been quality assured by the PSHE Association.

There is a wallchart produced in association with the Forum for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality in Further and Higher Education and a group of trade unions.

Meanwhile, partners in Scotland are celebrating LGBT History Month Scotland. Organised by LGBT Youth Scotland, Scottish LGBT History Month is based on the theme of ‘When We Were Young’. They have published a pdf explaining how to celebrate the month and it can be accessed here.

Inaugural LGBT Poet Laureate Trudy Howson has kindly made herself available for LGBT History Month events available for LGBT History Month events. In her own words: I’m happy to come along and support your LGBT History Month event with site/event specific poetry.
My work explores the external & internal landscapes of our LGBTQ+ Community. It records our History and Celebrates our Diversity.
During my tenure I’ve worked with: Pride in London (theme poem 2016/17) The British Library. M Shed. National Trust. Tate Modern. Sky TV. Ch4. BBC. Incite@The Phoenix. Amnesty International. ELOP. Stonewall. Kings College. Cambridge University.
Please check out my website for examples of my poetry and videos of my performance.
W: www.lgbtpoetlaureate.org.uk
M: 07760233521
E: lgbtpoetlaureate@gmail.com
T: @lgbtpoetlaureat

 

 

Is the tide turning? The IYW offers a strategy and UNITE seeks to resuscitate the JNC

At this moment we are near completing a draft ‘Is the tide turning?’ document based on the discussions at events held around the country late last year. We are going to present a draft for debate at the Youth & Policy conference in Leeds on Friday, February 9th, after which we are going to circulate the paper to all those involved thus far. The draft will then go to the IDYW national conference in Birmingham on Friday, March 9th. Amongst those contributing to the conference will be UNITE and UNISON, together with the Institute for Youth Work.

In this context, it’s informative and revealing to spend time with two new publications from the Institute and UNITE.

 

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STRATEGIC PLAN 2018-2023

The IYW has become a robust and trusted organisation in its own right that has an elected council of 12 dedicated individuals bringing a wealth of skills and experience from across the youth sector. We grew from sector bodies and continue to be a team player, open to working with the wider sector.

We have outlined below our strategic plan that seeks to ensure the place of IYW in the future of youth work as the democratic, independent professional body for youth workers that does not compete with those we seek to represent.

Read in full at IYW STRATEGIC PLAN

Meanwhile UNITE has produced a research report, undertaken by the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Unit, entitled YOUTH WORK: PROFESSIONALS VALUED.

Find below its key recommendations.

Key recommendations

i. A specific Minister for Youth Affairs whose responsibility is to be an advocate and voice for young people in Government, attending Cabinet. The role would straddle  Government departments and assess the impact of Government policy on the hopes, aspirations and lives of young people.

ii. Government should create a national youth forum to consult young people on policies that affect them, giving them powers to challenge policies that will affect their interests.

iii. Parliament should establish a joint parliamentary commission on youth services to consult with young people, communities and key stakeholders of the sector on the impact loss of or change of provision has had on the lives of young people, communities and key stakeholders and make recommendations for legislative and
other action.

 iv. The introduction of a Statutory Youth Services bill that places new legal duties and obligations on local authorities to provide a professional youth service and meaningfully consult young people on any changes to local services; especially cuts, closures and removal of services.

v. A Parliamentary Select Committee report on the impact of the changes in government policy on youth and community work, with a comparable cost analysis of short term programmes against universal open access provision. This should assess the impact of cuts and policy changes, in order to make recommendations to
government on how to stop the further de-professionalisation of youth and community work.

vi. The UK Government and the Governments of the Devolved Nations where responsibility for youth services sitmust develop a national strategy involving stakeholders to resist further de-professionalisation and retain and return local authority youth service funding to a well-resourced, statutory provision and seeks to protect and preserve the JNC.

vii. The protection of the JNC quality standards through the establishment of a Youth and community workforce licensure system, workforce register including a revocable license to practice, protection of the title, CPD scheme and code of ethics as exists in many other professions.

viii. Stakeholders within the community and youth work sector must develop a communication strategy to educate students on youth and community courses about the JNC.

ix. Stakeholders including the JNC, Trade Unions, ETS committees, Training agency group, plus HEIs and Youth work employers must carry out a national review of local and national training for youth work.

x. Local authority employers must work in partnership with trade union staff side groups to develop policies and procedures to support those workers already redeployed, to maximise their impact in new roles.

 

We look forward to the contributions of both the IYW and UNITE to our conference. What will be fascinating is to explore the question of the relationship in seeking to turn the tide between IYW, UNITE and indeed UNISON? Almost a decade ago at the first IDYW conference held in Manchester, Doug Nicholls, then the long-standing General Secretary of CYWU [UNITE], gave an impassioned speech, warning of the dangers of reviving the idea of a youth workers’ professional association. To what extent have the circumstances and perspectives changed?

 

‘Crouch dismisses call for NCS to be evaluated against traditional youth services’ reports CYPN

Joe Lepper in Children and Young People Now [CYPN] reports that:

 

Crouch

Tracy Crouch – thanks to womenofrubies.com

 

Youth minister Tracey Crouch has rejected calls for the effectiveness of the government’s flagship National Citizen Service (NCS) to be compared with traditional youth services.

Speaking in parliament, Labour’s shadow youth minister Steve Reed asked whether the government would “widen the scope” of the annual independent evaluation of the National Citizen Service (NCS) in order to “make comparisons with other youth programmes with similar aims to NCS”.

But Crouch rejected the idea, adding that the government is already supporting efforts to improve evaluation of wider youth work.

This includes funding for the Centre for Youth Impact, a social enterprise that aims to improve how the youth sector measures its effectiveness.

“The youth sector evidence base is not yet sufficiently developed to enable robust comparison between different programmes,” she said.

In a riposte, Joe quotes yours truly.

20170317-_DSC1346

Tony Taylor, co-ordinator of campaign group In Defence of Youth Work, said it is “absurd” to scrutinise the National Citizen Service in isolation from the diversity of continuing youth provision.

“Contrary to the claim that there is no evidence base to inform a thorough-going evaluation of practice, a range of insightful research is available, the latest being the 2017 Anu Gretschel report on the impact of International Youth Work,” Taylor said.

“However, this body of knowledge has been wilfully ignored. Its qualitative perspective is utterly at odds with the government’s neoliberal obsession with measuring the immeasurable.

“Though we do not think the way forward lies in some sort of crude, comparative exercise. As of now, we see a strong case for using the funding – some £400m – that could be saved from a reduction by a third in NCS’s recruitment target up to 2020/21 to reinstate the nearly £390m cut in youth service spending since 2010.

“The urgent longer-term need is for an independent inquiry into the present state of youth work in its entirety, premised on a renewed understanding of youth work as a distinctive educational practice rooted in voluntary relationships with young people forged outside of formal institutions and agencies.”

Read in full at Crouch dismisses call

 

Is the tide turning? IDYW 9th national conference, March 9 – book your place

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THE NINTH IDYW NATIONAL CONFERENCE
FRIDAY, MARCH 9 at THE BIRMINGHAM SETTLEMENT, ASTON

‘Swimming with or against a turning tide? Where should youth work be heading?’

Towards the end of last year a series of regional ‘Is the tide turning?’ events were held around the country. As a result, we are attempting to draw out of these diverse discussions a coherent set of proposals and demands that might be put to what we see as the progressive wing of British politics, those parties willing to ditch the damaging legacy of neoliberalism – namely Labour, the Greens, the Scottish Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru and increasingly the Liberal Democrats. The conference will be our collective opportunity to debate and revise both the purpose and content of such a policy paper. As last year we are organising on the basis that the starting time will help those travelling longer distances and that you will have consumed your lunch in advance.

PROGRAMME
12.00 Arrivals, socialising – drinks available. Participants responsible for own lunch.
12.30 Welcome, housekeeping
12.45 – 1.05 Presentation of the major themes in our draft set of proposals. These will have been circulated in advance.
1.05 – 2.00 Small group discussion about and responses to the proposals
2.00 – 2.15 Break
2.15 – 3.00 Implications for the workforce with UNISON, UNITE and the Institute for Youth Work
3.00 – 4.00 Implications for the purpose and culture of youth work practice with Centre for Youth Impact, Training Agencies Group and National Youth Agency
4.00 – 4.15 Break
4.15 – 5.00 Final session, initially in small groups: ‘What might we do next?’

Cost will be £10 minimum waged, £5 student/unwaged – payable on the day
To book a place contact Rachel at info.IDYW@gmail.com

We hope you will join us in the supportive and reflective atmosphere, which over the years has characterised IDYW debates.

 

 

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.