Youth leaders urge election commitments for young people, but fall short of specific demands

election reform

Fifty-one UK youth organisations have signed an open letter to the main UK political parties asking them to make firm commitments to young people. Amongst the signatories are UK Youth chief executive, Anna Smee; British Youth Council chief executive, Jo Hobbs; Volunteering Matters chief executive, Oonagh Aitken; Young Minds chief executive, Sarah Brennan; and Girlguiding’s chief executive, Julie Bentley.

It would be interesting to know the full list of organisations signed up to the welcome plea and how they came to be involved. More importantly, the request seems to miss the opportunity to make concrete demands upon the political parties, all the more so as the letter claims that their collective research has unearthed the key issues faced by young people. My apologies if I’m missing something here and  that these have been identified in a supplement to the letter.

Off the top of my head, a less than an exhaustive list of demands could have included:

  • Lower the voting age to 16
  • Abolish tuition fees in HE and restore maintenance grants
  • Bring under-25 National Living Wage in line with 25-year-olds.
  • End zero-hour contracts.
  • Prioritise a serious and properly funded strategy to end child poverty.
  • Implement immediately a building programme to create affordable, quality housing.
  • Restore funding and render statutory youth work provision.
  • Maintain and expand opportunities to live, work and study abroad.
  • Introduce Proportional Representation.
  • Recognise that public services for the common good are essential to a vibrant and inclusive democracy.

The letter in full as best I know

Dear Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron, Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas and Leanne Wood,

As Britain prepares for a snap general election, we call on you to make a firm commitment to young people across the country.

Since the referendum last year, our organisations have worked to engage young people from every part of the UK and from all backgrounds and political persuasions to present a clear plan for what they want from post-Brexit Britain.

Our national research and consultation has given us a strong and consistent picture of the top issues that matter to young people in post-Brexit Britain.

We can show you that younger generations are united on the big issues that will shape their future.

Now more than ever, their overwhelming demand to be part of the political process must be acted upon.

As the generation that will live longest with the outcome of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, we ask you to recognise that young people can have a positive impact on the Brexit negotiations and give real legitimacy to the process.

This election offers a huge opportunity to reshape the nation’s priorities and restore young people’s confidence in our democracy.

As you put together your platform for the general election, we are calling on all party leaders to make an explicit commitment to represent young people’s demands in their upcoming manifestos.

As you all prepare for this election we will all be galvanising our networks to ensure young citizens are engaged and registered to vote. We are calling on you to give them something to vote for.

 

Vote, but voting is never enough……what about some social action?

Predictably Theresa May’s General Election call has led to an upsurge of interest in voting, democracy and politics. Our Facebook page is hosting an interesting thread, kicked off by a question about how to engage young people with the spectre of the looming election. My own long-standing concerns about youth work’s widespread fear of being political and the stunted nature of parliamentary democracy itself are best left to a separate post. Indeed it might be an appropriate moment to dig out a rant I inflicted on a Federation of Detached Youth Workers conference back in 2007. I don’t think it’s past its sell-by date.

However, whatever my reservations about equating voting every so often with being political, the coming election is a highly significant moment in a volatile global atmosphere. Thus here are a number of recommended resources to inform our conversations and activities with young people in the coming weeks.

The League of Young Voters

Bite the Ballot

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Democracy Cookbook – The Recipes

Register to vote

 

And whilst we are exploring with young people the significance or otherwise of the vote, it might be an appropriate time to rescue the idea of social action from the suffocating ‘volunteering’ definition advanced by Step up to Serve. In the run up to the election what about exploring with young people taking direct, public action around issues that perhaps matter to them – a right to benefits, the issue of low pay and zero-hour contracts, the lack of appropriate housing, the precarious future they face and indeed the demand to vote at 16 – not to mention what’s happening to youth provision in their neck of the woods? If we are talking about politics, about power, there is a question haunting youth work. To what extent, with honourable exceptions, has it supported the growth of young people’s authentic social movements from below, giving the lie to Tim Laughton’s fatuous claim that NCS is the fastest growing social movement in Europe. Grassroots social movements don’t have marketing budgets. In this context the recent and ongoing young people’s campaign to save youth services in Brighton offers lessons and poses dilemmas. At this very moment these young people’s energies are turning to wider social and political issues than just youth work. I wonder out loud what is their take on the forthcoming General Election?

This has been said many times, in different ways, but the great advances in terms of freedom and justice have not been the outcome of ruly and bureaucratic procedures from on high, but the result of unruly and improvised action from below. Yes, vote, but don’t stop there.

Spring is in the air with a new edition of CONCEPT

Our friends at CONCEPT inform us that the Spring edition is now online at http://concept.lib.ed.ac.uk/Concept/. Always worth exploring.

Vol 8, No 1 (2017): Spring
Table of Contents
Articles
Feminism: A Fourth to be Reckoned With? Reviving Community Education Feminist Pedagogies in a Digital Age by Mel Aitken

Vulnerable Practice: Why We Need Honest Conversations To Make Change  by Nicky Bolland

The Challenges of Community Planning for the Community and Voluntary Sector in the Current Climate: A Road Well Travelled? by Mae Shaw

Youth And Community Based Approaches to Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls: Reflections from India by Marjorie Mayo, Deboshree Mohanta

On The Block: The Fairer Scotland Action Plan and Democracy  by Jim Crowther

Poetry

Poem: United Colours of Cumnock by Jim Monaghan

Reviews

Review: Peter McLaren, (2015) Pedagogy of Insurrection by Juha Suoranta

Review: William Davies, (2016) The Happiness Industry by Christina McMellon

‘Inspiring young people to create their social change’- Institute of Youth Work conference, May 20 in Sheffield

Message from Adam Muirhead, Chair of the Institute of Youth Work

 

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Adam Muirhead – ta to Justin Wyllie for the image

 

The 2nd Institute of Youth Work Conference and AGM, in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, Youth Work Unit Yorkshire & Humber and YASY.

Saturday, May 20 at Sheffield Hallam University

 

We are coming together for our second ever ‘In the Service of Youth’ conference to explore this year’s theme ‘Inspiring young people to create their social change’. The cost ranges from £15 to £30 depending on IYW membership status (so for some it may be worth joining ahead of buying conference tickets).

More information on the programme workshops etc are being added soon but confirmed speakers include youth work writer Brian Belton, author of ‘Radical Youth Work’, and Pegah Moulana, UK Young Ambassador for BYC at the European Youth Forum.

We have moved the conference to Sheffield this year to try to meet those who may struggle to travel to London easily and acknowledge that our youth work world is not London-centric!

For more info and to register, go to In Service of Youth

MMU BA Y&C course under threat! Advice and support appreciated.

The BA [Honours] Youth and Community course at the Manchester Metropolitan University is facing a precarious future. Against this worrying backcloth Janet Batsleer, Reader in Education and Principal Lecturer, Youth and Community, writes to ask our readers the following question.

What would you design into a Community Education course for the future that builds on the learning of the past 40 years or so? Or would you just close it down?

Your replies should be sent to Janet at J.Batsleer@mmu.ac.uk and would be much appreciated.

 

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Tony Taylor, Jon Ord and Janet Batsleer at the IDYW conference

 

These are indeed troubled times.

The cuts are taking youth clubs back to their Victorian roots – Sue Shanks in the Guardian

Just in case you missed it here’s the link to Sue’s insightful piece in the Guardian this week.

The cuts are taking youth clubs back to their Victorian roots

 

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Sue chats to Malcolm Ball at last week’s conference – ta to Justin Wyllie

 

Still room at the IDYW conference plus can we measure and treasure character?

On Thursday I’m contributing to a Centre for Youth Impact event, ‘The Measure and the Treasure: Evaluation in personal and social development’ in London. It’s sold out. OK, I accept there is unlikely to be a connection. However I will post next week a report of the proceedings and a summary of my sceptical input into the morning panel debate.

CYI

The Measure and the Treasure: Evaluation in personal and social development

The Centre for Youth Impact is hosting a day-long event on the 16th March 2017 focused on issues of measurement and personal and social development.
The day will explore policy, practical and philosophical debates about whether, how and why we should seek to measure the development of social and emotional skills in young people – also referred to as non-cognitive skills, soft skills and character, amongst other terms. We want to structure a thought-provoking and engaging day that introduces participants to a range of ideas and activities. The day will be designed for practitioners working directly with young people, those in an evaluation role, and funders of youth provision.

Speakers and facilitators include: Emma Revie (Ambition), Daniel Acquah (Early Intervention Foundation), Graeme Duncan (Right to Suceed), Robin Bannerjee (University of Sussex), Paul Oginsky (Personal Development Point), Jenny North (Impetus-PEF), Tony Taylor (In Defence of Youth Work), Sarah Wallbank (Yes Futures), Jack Cattell (Get the Data), Mary Darking, Carl Walker and Bethan Prosser (Brighton University), Leonie Elliott-Graves and Chas Mollet (Wac Arts), Tom Ravenscroft (Enabling Enterprise), Phil Sital-Singh (UK Youth) and Luke McCarthy (Think Forward).

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Then on Friday it’s our eighth national conference in Birmingham. To be honest the number of people registering is disappointing, well down on previous years. Although, obviously, the smaller audience, around 30 folk at the moment, will make for intense debate. This said, we’d love to see you there so it’s not too late to register or even turn up on the day.

Youth Work: Educating for good or Preventing the bad?

Details on this Facebook page or at this previous post.