Is the tide turning in Northampton?

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In Defence of Youth Work presents:

Is the
tide
turning?

Reimagining the future possibilities for youth work

A series of discussions based on IDYW’s paper on the
future of youth work in the light of the 2017 election
result.

  • 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?

Latest event in Northampton

Thursday 9th November, 6.30-8pm at Nene Whitewater Centre, Bedford Road, Northampton, NN4 7AA.

For more info/book a place, contact jodie.low@free2talkcic.org

The full discussion paper can be found here – Is the tide turning?

Beyond Brexit: The Impact of Leaving the EU on the Youth Work Sector

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A challenging piece from Annette and Sinéad on at least two levels.

  1. Our own ‘is the tide turning?’ discussion paper ignores Brexit. Why?
  2. They continue to suggest that many of us, despite our claim to be reimagining the future, are hampered by a fear of the unknown.

We should seek to address these criticisms in next month’s debates.

The UK having voted to leave the EU, Annette Coburn and Sinéad Gormally consider potential problems and possibilities for youth work within post-Brexit Britain, with a focus on Scotland in particular. They outline how youth work has reached a ‘tipping point’ in its evolution, where austerity measures have consistently undermined it. They examine the potential impact of the further loss of EU funding. Recognising that it is entirely uncharted territory, they assert that despite the inherent concerns, Brexit could also be a catalyst for re-imagining youth work as a creative and resistant practice within social and informal education.

Beyond Brexit: The Impact of Leaving the EU on the Youth Work Sector

IS THE TIDE TURNING? NEWS of REGIONAL EVENTS

Tide FlyerPlease circulate the above as a pdf  – Tide Flyer

We are pleased to say that there has been a positive response to the call for a range of events to debate our ‘is the tide turning?’ paper.

Specific contacts for more info re the above events are:

Brighton: adam@iyw.org.uk

Manchester: j.batsleer@mmu.ac.uk

Birmingham: j.grace@youthworkeurope.com

London: tan_dsc@yahoo.co.uk

Derby: n.down@derby.ac.uk

Some of these events have created their own flyers and I’ll post these during the week. In addition, more gatherings look likely in other parts of the country plus a number of institutions are building into their courses discussion on the paper. More news as soon as it is available.

It does look promising and we hope very much you will be able to participate in the debate.

 

 

Sue Atkins, an extraordinary woman – 80 Years an Activist

 

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Last weekend Sheffield was warmed by autumnal sun and the joy emanating from those gathered at Sue Atkins’ 80th birthday party. Crossing the festooned threshold of the venue was to be thrown into a melting pot of humanity – youth workers past and present, the very young and the quite old, the toothful and toothless, folk from a diversity of cultures and backgrounds, All were thrust together through their shared respect and affection for a remarkable woman, who has devoted much of her life to a form of youth work, that aspires to be ‘volatile and voluntary, creative and collective – an association and conversation without guarantees’, informed at every turn by a genuine love for young people.

For my part, I met Sue first at a tumultuous Community and Youth Service Association [CYSA] conference in around 1980, out of which through the power of caucusing emerged the Community and Youth Workers Union [CYWU], of which she was to be a future President. Of her lengthy sojourn within youth work many a tale could be told, which suggests much sooner rather than later, an interview with Sue would be fascinating and revealing. Indeed it would shed light on why in the late 1980’s, in a memorable phrase, she described me, amongst others, as ‘a shite in whining armour’. Watch this space.

For now it’s sobering to note that she continues to be a leading light of the voluntary organisation, Youth Association South Yorkshire, a member of the Education and Training Standards Committee (ETS), the body that provides professional validation for youth work qualifications in England, on behalf of the JNC for Youth & Community Workers, not forgetting her formidable presence on our very own In Defence of Youth Work steering group.

Amongst the variety of tributes made during the day a highlight was the heartfelt rendition of this clever rewriting by Julia Lyford of a Flanders and Swann ditty, ‘The Gas Man cometh’. I suspect its lyrics will strike a chord with many a youth worker visiting these pages.

 

The Youth Worker Cometh

(With acknowledgements or apologies to Flanders and Swann)

 

In June of 1940 a circular was born

It spoke of building character, for brains but also brawn

It hoped to foster places where young people chose to be

Both physical and social, or just for jamboree

And it all made work for the volunteer to do dum dum dum…dah dah dah

 

The fifties kept on building up the recreation show

The teenager was born, discovered coffee and Bongo

In uniforms or sports strips or in drama, choir or dance

Communities and charities took up a moral stance

And it all made work for the youth leader to do dum dum dum….dah dah dah

 

‘Twas in the 1960s that Albemarle was cool,

It led to flashy centres, to arts labs and to pool

The dawning of Aquarius gave pace to drugs and sex

And self-determination meant that most of us were wrecks

But it all made work for co-counsellors to do dah dah dah…dah dah dah

 

The Seventies saw people start to recognise the gaps

To notice gender, race and class and reach for the detached

Nintendo loomed, and numbers fell, young people stayed away

So issue – based and project work began to have their day

And it all made work for the activist to do dum dum dum dah dah dah

 

The Eighties saw the riots, young people were ‘at risk’

From HIV or pregnancy or other kinds of fix

The Union fought the cuts and tackled section 28

We had to look for outcomes, with process out the gate

And it all made work for youth officers to do dum dum dum dah dah dah

 

From YTS to work – or not – young people bore the brunt

The nineties went thematic and put learning at the front

We taught in schools, had casework loads and tried to join it up

We ended with Connexions, aspirations all amock

And it all made work for personal advisers to do dum dum dum dah dah dah

 

The Noughties said ‘Youth Matters’ and we ended up in Trusts

We raided health and care funds and pretended to consult  

We safeguarded the vulnerable but not so much ourselves

We got bogged down in paperwork or starting stacking shelves

And it all made work for the volunteer to do dum dum dum…dah dah dah

 

So – in the twenty-tens Sue’s raised us all up in Defence ……

She’s given us momentum, to let youth work re-commence!

 

FOR THE TUNE!!

And, just to close by observing that to say Sue has been an activist for 80 years seems to be stretching a point. Yet I can just imagine Sue emerging from the womb with a half-apologetic, searching question already on her lips. So eighty years it is and long may it continue.

 

 

 

Once there were many, now but one? UK Youth and Ambition merge

We got a sniff of this latest manoeuvre in the youth sector the other day and it has come to pass.

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Youth work organisations UK Youth and Ambition have merged, it has been announced.

The announcement is accompanied by the usual managerial rationalisations, the two CEO’s vying to outdo one another in a contest of cliche. Anna Smee, chief executive of UK Youth claims, “we feel we are much more credible now as the one leading organisation that works across non-uniformed and, to some extent, uniformed youth organisations.” Emma Revie, chief executive of Ambition, said coming together strengthens both organisations. “By joining forces with UK Youth, I’m confident we have the potential to be greater together than the sum of our parts and I’m excited to see what we can achieve.”

For our part we remain sceptical about the claim that this merger will strengthen the voice and quality of the youth work sector. It will strengthen a particular voice, centralised and still wedded to a neoliberal ideology of self-improved young people and self-improved workers. In the present political ferment a plurality of voices would be much healthier.

As it is, as CYPN notes,

The move comes just two years after Ambition, which was known as Clubs for Young People until 2012, merged with the Confederation of Heads of Young People’s Services, the organisation for local authority youth service leaders. Ambition also merged with the now defunct National Council for Voluntary Youth Services last year.

And, indeed, a proposed merger between UK Youth and the National Agency was on the cards for a time last year. We won’t hold our breath if this possibility is soon revived.

It’s worth remembering too that the NCVYS once proudly presented itself as the independent voice of the voluntary youth sector.

To complete the exchange of banalities, Tracy Crouch, the Minister of a government, which has implemented a succession of policies antagonistic to the needs of young people, never mind youth work itself, welcomes the corporate move, “UK Youth and Ambition have both done fantastic work supporting young people across the country and I am confident that this partnership will only strengthen their offering.

“Together I’m sure they will continue to lead the way championing youth voices, and supporting innovation and partnerships.”

By now, though, I suppose we are meant to do no more than shrug our shoulders at such empty rhetoric.

Transformative Youth Work International Conference – registration open

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN at  Transformative Youth Work

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Transformative Youth Work International Conference
Developing and Communicating Impact

4-6 September 2018 at Plymouth Marjon University
This will be the 1st major International conference focusing on the ‘Impact of Youth Work’.

 
AIMS:

  • To disseminate the latest research on the Impact of Youth Work
  • To promote the Impact of Youth Work
  • To stimulate debate about the processes which bring this impact about.

 

 

Includes inputs from across Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand as well as the publication of the Erasmus+ funded 2-year comparative study of the Impact of Youth Work in Europe.

 
KEYNOTES:
Joachim Schild: (Former Head of European Youth Partnership) – ‘History of Youth Work Impact in Europe’
Dr Dimitris Ballas: ‘A Human Atlas of Europe – United in Diversity’

 
The conference is open to youth workers, youth work academics & trainers as well as policy makers.
Bursaries are available for non-UK delegates

Transformative Youth Work 2018 [pdf poster] – please circulate