UK YOUTHVOICE write to a Prime Minister, who can’t and won’t deliver

 

Youth voice

UK Youth Voice outside 10 Downing Street. Ta to UK Youth for the photo.

 

On Wednesday, June 20 a deputation from UK Youth Voice delivered the group’s manifesto to 10 Downing Street. Addressed to the Prime Minister the detailed contents of the manifesto are to be applauded. Amongst the demands are:

  • Make youth services a priority public service
  • Enable every young person to take an active role in democracy
  • Provide accessible, high-quality education for all young people
  • End discrimination, prejudice and hate crime towards young people
  • Enable future generations to live in a clean, safe and sustainable
    environment

Contrary to a number of pre-election statements from leading youth sector organisations Youth Voice explores these headings in detail. For example the reader will find calls to protect the NHS; for votes at 16; for young people’s involvement in the EU negotiations and the replacement of the Erasmus+ funding stream; free education at all levels plus the cancellation of student debt; equality of pay and an end to zero-hour contracts;  the protection of environmental legislation; and much more.

READ IN FULL at Youth Voice Manifesto

The contradiction facing the young people of Youth Voice is that many of its demands cannot be delivered by a Tory Prime Minister and government, increasingly out of touch with significant sections of society. Indeed it seems that an overwhelming number of 18-25 year olds voted for the revival of social democracy as expressed in the Labour Party’s manifesto and against the failed free market model of neoliberalism. In this context we are very interested in what might be the next political steps for Youth Voice?  To what extent will it be hamstrung by the idea that Youth Voice should be in some contorted way neutral? Is this a moment when it’s necessary for Youth Voice to climb off the fence and pin its colours to an anti-austerity mast?

We look forward to hearing more about how Youth Voice chooses to use its progressive manifesto. For now we wish simply to congratulate Youth Voice on the work it’s put in. Good stuff. And this might just be the beginning.

 

Cor Blimey! A first chance to reflect on what the Mayhem might mean for youth work – Manchester June 14 and London, June 23

 

mayhem

Ta to the Liverpool Echo

 

Given the shockwave created by the General Election result, the possible implications will now feed into the discussion at our forthcoming seminars, which will be one of the first opportunities to take a breath about what’s happening. Bernard and Tania will attempt at short notice to take the present mayhem, chaos and promise into account in their opening contributions!

WHAT FUTURE FOR STATE-FUNDED YOUTH WORK?

Manchester seminar: Wednesday 14th June 1-4pm at M13 Youth Project

Brunswick Parish Church Centre, Brunswick St, Manchester, M13 9TQ

A short walk or bus ride from Manchester Piccadilly. See map and directions: http://www.brunswickchurch.org.uk/contact–location.html

London seminar: Friday 23rd June, 1-4pm at King’s College London

School of Education, Communication & Society, Rm 2/21, Waterloo Bridge Wing, Waterloo Road, SE1 9NH.

Five minutes from Waterloo station (but slightly confusing to find!) See map and directions: https://www.kcl.

In the light of the general election campaign and results, we are looking forward to meeting to discuss its possible implications for youth work – and in particular, on this occasion, for state-funded and state-organised youth work. The slightly tweaked programme is below. Please note that there is no lunch break. You are welcome to bring your lunch and eat during the session. Please arrive on time – or feel free to arrive early, anytime from 12:30 pm. Bookings are still open: please email Rachel@yasy.co.uk or indeed turn up on the day.

1- 1.10: Introduction to the proceedings.

1:10-1:30: Views from the field: Reflections from participants on the general election campaign and results. What does it mean for young people and for youth work?

1.30 – 2.30: Bernard Davies re-imagines how youth work might be supported and provided by the state – beyond the neoliberal mindset (15 min talk followed by discussion).

2.30 – 2.45 Break.

2.45 – 3.45: Tania de St Croix argues that the National Citizen Service is top-down, prescriptive, and pro-neoliberal, and should be replaced (15 min talk followed by discussion).

3.45 – 4.00: Feedback on the session and ideas for future seminars and action.

Hope to see you at either of these gatherings.

For F*****’s sake! Tories Out!

 For our Future’s Sake, Tories Out

I’ve never been persuaded that turning out, whenever it suits politicians and their paymasters, to put a cross on a ballot paper is the highest expression of my democratic conviction. It strikes me as bizarre that handing over my say about how the world should be to an individual, who is the obedient follower of his or her party and who is neither accountable or recallable to me, is perceived as the democratic moment of my existence. Neither is my doubt an insult to the memory of those, who struggled for the universal adult franchise. This important victory is but a stepping stone towards more inclusive forms of democratic involvement, Even under its own rules representative democracy denies the vote to young people, who are taxed without representation.

Hence I’ve always treated elections with caution,  even though, in my time, I’ve leafletted and canvassed for Labour. Indeed there have been moments when I have also openly argued against voting Labour and shown sympathy with the anarchist slogan, ‘Don’t Vote, it only encourages them!’ This is not one such moment.

Across the years the professional youth workforce has tended to support Labour, seeing it as a progressive party committed to the central role of the state in providing public services. Indeed in 1997 many workers were seduced by Blair’s ‘Third Way’ with its championing of what has come to be called ‘identity politics’.  The price paid was a heavy one as New Labour abandoned class politics and solidarity, embracing both neoliberalism’s masturbatory self-centredness and its fetishistic belief in an iron law of the market.  The price paid has been austerity and widening inequality. The price paid has been the creation of the precarious society. The price paid has been the eruption of a Manichean world of good and evil, of our bombs and their bombs, none of which distinguish between the guilty or the innocent. Even as it forfeited power to the Conservatives, New Labour proved unable to think outside the neoliberal oblong. Thus there has seemed to be little choice in the party political arena – ‘you couldn’t put a Rizla between them’.

However, in the last turbulent months and volatile days, the scenario has changed dramatically. A Labour Party, perceived as in a terminal crisis, has risen from its bed, led by Jeremy Corbyn, an unlikely and much-maligned figurehead. To the dismay of much of its Parliamentary wing the Labour Party has been reminded of its social-democratic heritage. Its manifesto, whilst by no means the last word in radicalism, is being experienced as a breath of exhilarating air, by many more than just the faithful. It asserts the common good against private greed. It desires peace not war. Whilst it says very little about youth work – a promise to stop the cuts, NCS retained – it offers hope for young people, aspiring to free them from debt and zero-hour contracts. For now, our sectional interests are not the burning issues.

Where does this leave us? It seems pretty straightforward – Vote Labour on Thursday. And yet? Despite Labour’s remarkable recovery from being written off, it is very unlikely that it can achieve an overall majority, especially with Scotland in mind. And I’m convinced such a triumph would be deeply problematic. It would be pulled off with the support of a minority of the population, which would not stop Labour from declaring it had a mandate to impose its programme. At odds with the proposal that he’s about a new way of doing politics, Jeremy Corbyn is still tribal in his outlook. He yearns for the revival of the two-party contest, Labour versus Conservative. Thus he refuses to countenance supportive, working agreements with other political parties. The Greens are dismissed, even though Caroline Lucas might well be the first choice for a Deputy Prime Minister. He argues neither the Scottish National Party nor the Liberal Democrats are progressive, not to be touched with a fishing rod. Yet the majority of his own party’s MP’s suffer in stunned silence, unable to get their heads around the collapse of their pragmatic accommodation to the status quo.  Can you believe it, they are now being expected to believe in something other than their own careers?

For sure, it’s a mess of contradiction, but let me end with two proposals, for what they’re worth.

  1.  If at all possible, it is vital to prevent five further years of a growing Tory authoritarian populism.
  2. We need to celebrate the possible emergence of a Coalition of Chaos, which brings together in creative dialogue and practice political groupings, which in opposing the way things are, possess a vision of a fairer society.  In IDYW we urge a practice that is improvisatory and reflective, democratic and emancipatory, knowing that nothing is ever guaranteed.

On Thursday, vote defensively to stop the Tories and vote optimistically for a new way of doing politics. In this momentous clash our vote is but the beginning. Both within and without youth work our obligation is to carry on building from below. Our task is to hold politicians to account. Our commitment is to speak truth to power.

Thursday looks like being more enthralling than we ever thought. Whatever the outcome, the struggle continues.

 

 

Must read blogs for youth workers includes IDYW

We’re not given to patting ourselves on the back for our endeavours so it’s gratifying to be given this thumbs-up from Aaron Garth over at Ultimate Youth Worker. And we’re very much in agreement with him about his other recommendations. Beware sycophancy we tell ourselves.

annualcheese-fest

Youth work is a strange beast. We aren’t great at tooting our own horn. Even worse at sharing what we do. So when people step into the gap and share their thoughts, dreams, aspirations, research and their passion it is a fantastic sight to see. There have been many youth work blogs that have come and gone over the years (a testament to our sectors difficulties). With this in mind here are a few of the blogs for youth workers we read regularly that keep us up to date and get our creative juices flowing.

IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK

We have been keen followers of the crew at In Defence for the last six years. The mix of news and thoughts on where the sector is at in the UK always keep us interested and informed. Tony Taylor does a great job bringing it all together with the occasional guest post from others throughout the sector. In Defence have a great open letter to the sector which states their view on youth work and how it should run. This is a must read for anyone who wants to stay in the youth sector for the long haul.

DETACHED YOUTH WORK – LEARNING FROM THE STREET

Over the past year we have got to know the writing of James Ballantyne really well. James writes at the intersection of Youth Work and Youth Ministry and brings a detached youth work perspective to his writings. James has a depth of knowledge and wisdom that shows through in pretty much every post he does. Another UK Native James brings a strong dose of detached youth work to his readers, a concept we should all get our head around. This blog is a fantastic resource for youth ministers who are looking to develop their skills and knowledge, and is a fantastic read for the rest of the sector to see what youth ministry could be like with a bit of youth work injected into it.

Exploring Youth Issues

Alan Mackie is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh who’s areas of interest include education and youth work. His blog brings articles o politics, young people, youth work and education together to give us a smorgasbord of thoughts. Alan’s blog is one of those We go to if we want to challenge our thinking and the way the world sees young people.

Radical Youth Practice

A New blog on the block is Radical Youth Practice from Rys Farthing. Rys was a lecturer of Aaron’s at RMIT over a decade ago and is now based in the UK. We expect a lot from this blog and it delivers in spades. Challenging the way youth services see political action as they worry about biting the hand that feeds them is an early taste of what’s to come from this powerhouse author. Its early days but we expect to see Rys around for a long time yet.

We can’t recommend these blogs for youth workers enough.

Go and check them out.

‘Labour will fund youth clubs properly’ – NME exclusive?

NME

Back in the era of punk the Wigan Youth Service subscribed to the New Musical Express [NME]. As the Service’s training officer I urged youth workers to scour or, at least skim, its pages. I argued that knowing something about the Clash or Siouxie and the Banshees opened up the chance to chat with young people about all manner of things. Whilst the NME is no longer the cultural force it was in those days, Jeremy Corbyn shares perhaps some of my nostalgia. Hence he has given the paper a major interview, which will appear in the June 2nd edition.

Of immediate interest is the following response to a NME reader’s question about young people appearing to support Labour.

 “I think they’re engaged because our manifesto offers them hope. It offers them hope that their schools will be properly funded, that their youth clubs will be properly funded, that they’ll get maintenance grants, they’ll get an opportunity to go to university without incurring massive debts at the end of it.” [my emphasis]

Evidently NME is often given away for free on the streets. If you can grab a copy, it would be good to see the interview in full.

Thanks to Ray Kinsey for this NME distribution map showing where you can pick up a copy and read the full interview.

NME MAP

And thanks to RajYouthworker the full interview online.

http://www.nme.com/features/jeremy-corbyn-interview-2017-cover-feature-labour-2082433

How did the left radicalism of my Manchester youth give way to Islamism?Kenin Malik ponders.

black star

Back in 2013 we drew your attention to the appearance of a fascinating book, ‘Black Star: Britain’s Asian Youth Movements’, written by Anandi Ramamurthy.  At the time Gus John wrote, ‘we can only hope that young people and their parents, of whatever ethnicity, demand this book is included in the school and college curriculum. It shows that even before the ‘war on terror’ and Islamophobia, South Asian communities needed to engage in a defensive war in the face of a neo-fascist and state terror that was relentlessly visited upon them.’  A later review by Matloub Husayn-Ali-Khan, who was personally involved, underlined the significant role of youth workers in the emergence of the Sheffield Asian Youth Movement, which was initially called the Asian Youth Council. It was born out of a meeting on October 12, 1980 between Bradford and Sheffield activists held at the Attercliffe Youth Centre in Sheffield. He recalls, ‘an atmosphere that brought out a feeling of togetherness, commitment, comradeship; oneness and unity between all those who felt the struggle.’

AYM Sheffield

With the Manchester tragedy very much to the fore in many people’s minds this historical context is revisited by Kenin Malik in ‘How did the left radicalism of my Manchester youth give way to Islamism?’ — After the atrocity, we recall a past when to be young and Muslim was to be engaged in class politics’

To take, but one aspect of his argument, he remembers his ‘real fury at a society that would not embrace [him] as an equal, legitimate citizen. But it was a very different kind of anger to that which many young Muslims feel now and the ways of expressing it were even more distinct. My fury towards Britain was not expressed through the prism of being “Muslim”. Partly this was because I was not religious. But partly, also, because few adopted “Muslim” as a public identity. We thought of ourselves as “Asian” or “black”, but these were political, not ethnic or cultural labels.’

He concludes,

Perhaps the question to ask is not: “Were I 20 today, would I be attracted to Islamism?” but, rather: “Had Salman Abedi or Mohammad Sidique Khan been born a generation earlier, would they have rejected Islamism?” It is impossible to answer, but in asking that question, we can begin to tease out some of the social reasons for the Abedis and the Khans of this world becoming as they are.

I am not suggesting that anyone apart from Salman Abedi (and his co-conspirators, if there are any) bears responsibility for the carnage at the Manchester Arena. The reflex response to anyone digging deeper into the motives of jihadis is to denounce them as “apologists”. Witness the Tory onslaught against Jeremy Corbyn for what was a largely innocuous speech on Friday. What I am saying, however, is that while individuals bear responsibility for their acts, they also act within particular social contexts. If we are serious about combating the scourge of homegrown jihadism, we need not just to denounce jihadis as evil, but also to look at how the shifting social landscape has given them space to act as they do – and at how we can remake that landscape.

How might youth work contribute to such a remaking? As a minimum aren’t we obliged to engage afresh with the politics of our work? Whose political agendas have we been embracing in the era of neoliberalism? Is there the possibility of turning at least some of this world upside down?

 

Young People Targeted – James Ballantyne reflects

We can discuss another day, who we might call upon in the struggle to understand and respond to the tragedy in Manchester? We can ponder that young people elsewhere in the world have also been targeted and murdered by terrorism in many guises, not least those of the State. We must grapple with the dilemma of how we break the cycle of violence. For the moment I’m posting James Ballantyne’s immediate thoughts from his blog, DETACHED YOUTHWORK – LEARNING FROM THE STREET, written, as he says, with the same sadness and shock that we might all be feeling this morning.

 

Young People Targeted

For many of us in Youth Work we are used to young people being targeted. Young people might feel it too, they can be –

Targeted to help get Jobs

Targeted to reach for a faith

Targeted to help stay in school

Targeted by government policies

Targeted by health initiatives

Targeted by the media and discriminated unjustifiably.

Targeted to rescue from poverty

Targeted on binge -drinking projects

Targeted and scapegoated for society’s broader ills.

Today they became the target of another agenda.

That of Terrorism. Of Murder, destruction and divisiveness.

Young people targeted. In the heat of the fire.

Never did we think young people would be targeted in this way. To be the pawns in someone else’s game.

To become the world media attention, to become the story.

Innocence lost.

Shock.

A spear of hatred penetrated into an evening of life and fun. Dance became drama.

Drama became horror. Horror became Panic.

Manchester might be the story, but it wasn’t the target, that was young people.

There are few words of condolence, of understanding that seem right at this time.

Our nation is in grief. Families are in grief, young adults are in confusion, shock and are injured, or are no more.

Manchester. For young people, in one evening it has become the city of broken dreams.

Bruised reeds can be made strong. Communities, faith and hope can restore.

Lord, have mercy, have hope, heal our land.