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.

The Election: The YMCA leads the way in making concrete demands

As news of the snap election broke we were critical of the bland call from leading voluntary youth organisations for the political parties to commit themselves to young people.  Indeed we considered drafting an IDYW Open Letter focused on specific demands, which would address the precarious nature of young people’s lives today. However events have overtaken us. All the party manifestos are out on the table. The pressing question is ‘for whom to vote?’ We will address this dilemma in a proposal for discussion next week. Suffice to say it will not advocate voting Conservative. After this obvious conclusion the choices become more complicated, even if the Labour Party’s manifesto is hailed as ‘radical and responsible’.

In the meantime it would be unfair not to recognise that a number of youth organisations have indeed sharpened their demands upon the politicians.

Perhaps the most impressive contribution is the YMCA General Election Manifesto 2017, which under the five headings, The security of a home; Ready to tackle the world; Positive mind and body; Activities that develop character; Empower and invest in the next generation, details the steps that need to be taken by government.

For example, under The security of a home, the following recommendations are made:

  • Look again at proposals to reform the
    supported housing sector to ensure that
    any new funding mechanism properly
    reflects the true cost of delivering
    supported housing
  • Abolish the regulations that remove
    automatic entitlement to housing
    support for 18 to 21-year-olds
  • Exempt all young people moving out
    of supported housing from the Shared
    Accommodation Rate
  • Promote and invest in the development
    and supply of alternative models of low-cost
    housing such as Y:Cube
  • Introduce a national Help to Rent
    scheme to support young people to pay
    for a rental deposit
  • Ban unreasonable letting agent fees in
    the private rented sector
  • Introduce a rental cap to limit the
    amount landlords can increase rents
    annually
  • Legislate to increase the length of
    tenancies in the private rented sector
  • Extend funding available to local
    authorities to enable them to deliver
    their homelessness duties

In terms of youth work the YMCA recommends – Reclassify youth services as a statutory service, requiring each local authority to have in a place a youth services strategy.

The YMCA document is well worth your attention and see also

Youth-led 99% Campaign Call to Action for forthcoming UK elections manifesto

National Youth Agency Manifesto

and to close here’s an example of putting local candidates under pressure.

polithustbrighton

 

Exploring the idea of ‘spaces’ in youth work

My sincere apologies for the belated appearance of these stimulating notes from the London IDYW regional meeting – entirely my fault. 

youth work

The last London IDYW meeting explored the idea of ‘spaces’ in youth work. We started by identifying the types of shared spaces we work in and the vast number of issues this can bring about, from issues of time and equipment to safeguarding concerns and the ‘stigma of space’. This raised some fundamental questions around what would make something a ‘youth specific’ space then, and if detached youth work was able to create spaces, or if youth work was about the relationships within ‘any’ space. If youth work is about the relationships, then the quality of the space shouldn’t matter, but there are pros and cons of having a homely ‘lower quality’ youth space versus a flashy new place to work.

We discussed what could be considered youth work, in any space, and closed by attempting to identify how youth workers could share spaces and work in partnership while maintaining professional integrity. We concluded here that youth workers needed to be more pro-active about owning the terms of the relationship and space use. We need to remember that we have some power in these negotiations, other agencies often need us to deliver the numbers and interactions they need to secure their funding, so we should be clear about out terms of engagement from the start. We discussed what would be some good principles to agree to before commencing a partnership:

 
– That the young people’s engagement must be voluntary

– That we do not function to ‘report back’ and monitor attendance or engagement (or more likely non-engagement) where it may result in adverse consequences for young clients

– Anti-oppressive principles underpinning work (no racism etc)

 
We decided that the next meeting will further explore the idea of positive partnerships for youth work, and will have a 2 hour reflection space and a 1 hour space to develop solutions. We’d love to see more workers from London attend! Date – to be confirmed.

Detailed briefing notes –  well worth exploring

Exploring spaces

Youth employment in the ‘gig’ economy, isolation and youth loneliness research project

 

youthloneliness

Ta to youthawesome.com

 

Apologies I’ve only just found our about this project and the first workshop is on Wednesday, May 3 in Manchester. Looks an excellent initiative and co-facilitated by our friends at 42nd Street. A pertinent piece of research to be shared on May Day.

DESCRIPTION
As part of the @YouthLoneliness project, we are interested to find out more about young people’s working lives, their casual employment, their experience of self-employment and their involvement in the ‘gig’ economy.
Across 3 workshops we will explore, research and discuss the gig economy and youth loneliness. The workshops will be held at the People’s History Museum on May 3rd, May 17th and May 24th, between 1.00 pm to 3 pm.
Workshop One: Starting a documentary process. In this session we will learn about doing research using a smartphone. Then we plan and begin our research on young people in the ‘gig’ economy. This will involve interviewing young people in the ‘gig’ economy around Manchester.
Workshop Two: Exploring the data. This session will explore the data we’ve collected and ideas we have. We’ll use this material to produce a multi-media mixed art form (e.g. a collage or mosaic).
Workshop Three: Discussion. We will invite a panel of guest speakers to discuss the research and debate isolation, loneliness and young people in the ‘gig’ economy.
Priority booking will be given to people aged between 16 and 25 but the events are open to all. You do not have to work in the ‘gig’ economy to participate. You do not have to have previous experience of doing research.
The event is based at based at the People’s History Museum. We will be looking at archive material in the museum to inspire printmaking, documentary work and photography and ideas for today. We are looking to historical movements like the Co-op Movement and the Trades Union movement that brought people facing harsh conditions together in search of ways of improving lives. We are wondering what networks of connection can we imagine for today?

For more info/to book a place, go to Youth Loneliness Tickets

 

Searching for Pearls: Reflections on Researching the Life and Work of Pearl Jephcott

Notice of the following event focused on the remarkable figure of Pearl  Jephcott, who between 1922 and 1946 was by turns a volunteer girls’ club worker, Organising Secretary for the Birmingham Union of Girls’ Clubs, the occupant of a similar post in County Durham and finally the Publications Officer for the National Association of Girls’ Clubs – thanks for this background to Tony Jeffs, who has a forthcoming article on this period in her life. The Leicester seminar looks more widely at her ensuing career as a pioneering social science researcher.

pearlj

The next MediaCom Seminar hosted by the School of Media, Communication and Sociology at the University of Leicester will take place on Wednesday 10 May with Professor John Goodwin (University of Leicester).

The seminar will take place 4:00-5:30 pm on Wednesday 10 May in Bankfield House Lecture Theatre – all welcome.

School of Media, Communication and Sociology
University of Leicester
Bankfield House
132 New Walk
Leicester
LE1 7JA

Searching for Pearls: Reflections on Researching the Life and Work of Pearl Jephcott

Pearl Jephcott (1900-1980), in a research career spanning some forty years, made an outstanding contribution to British social science research. Her key works, included Girls Growing Up (1942), Rising Twenty (1948), Some Young People (1954), Married Women Working (1962), A Troubled Area: Notes on Notting Hill (1964), Time of One’s Own (1967) and Homes in High Flats (1971), alongside numerous other reports and articles. These publications paved the way for many of the subsequent developments that were to come in the sociology of gender, women’s’ studies, urban sociology, the sociology of youth and are replete with originality, innovation and sociological imagination. Yet despite this Jephcott’s work has become neglected – seemingly relegated to second-hand booksellers and to ‘studies from the past’. As such in this paper I aim to do three things. First, I begin by providing a biographical sketch of Pearl Jephcott as well as reflecting upon key aspects of her early biography that helped inform her subsequent sociological practice. Second, I will provide an overview of her key works and draw out their contemporary relevance. Finally, I want to reflect on the ‘processes’ of researching a ‘past sociologist’ and the impact the research has had on my own sociological practice.

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

cropped-BTB-logo-turquoise

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.

A critical view of NCS and citizenship from the world of political geography

sign up toncs

The National Citizen Service programme has been having a rough ride recently, but its supporters would claim that much of the criticism emanates from the ranks of jealous and prejudiced youth workers. Hence it’s illuminating to ponder the following piece of research undertaken by Sarah Mills and Catherine Waite, published in the journal, ‘Political Geography’.

Highlights

Explores youth citizenship and the politics of scale to propose concept of ‘brands of youth citizenship’.

Examines the imaginative and institutional geographies of learning to be a citizen.

An analysis of National Citizen Service and its scaling of youth citizenship.

Original fieldwork with NCS architects, delivery providers and young people.

Examines ‘Britishness’, devolution and youthful politics in the United Kingdom.

Brands of youth citizenship and the politics of scale: National Citizen Service in the United Kingdom

Abstract
This paper explores the politics of scale in the context of youth citizenship. We propose the concept of ‘brands of youth citizenship’ to understand recent shifts in the state promotion of citizenship formations for young people, and demonstrate how scale is crucial to that agenda. As such, we push forward debates on the scaling of citizenship more broadly through an examination of the imaginative and institutional geographies of learning to be a citizen. The paper’s empirical focus is a state-funded youth programme in the UK – National Citizen Service – launched in 2011 and now reaching tens of thousands of 15–17 year olds. We demonstrate the ‘branding’ of youth citizenship, cast here in terms of social action and designed to create a particular type of citizen-subject. Original research with key architects, delivery providers and young people demonstrates two key points of interest. First, that the scales of youth citizenship embedded in NCS promote engagement at the local scale, as part of a national collective, whilst the global scale is curiously absent. Second, that discourses of youth citizenship are increasingly mobilised alongside ideas of Britishness yet fractured by the geographies of devolution. Overall, the paper explores the scalar politics and performance of youth citizenship, the tensions therein, and the wider implications of this study for both political geographers and society more broadly at a time of heated debate about youthful politics in the United Kingdom and beyond.

If possible don’t be put off by the denseness of the abstract or the profusion of bracketed references demanded by academia, the article explores insightfully the continuing tension about what we mean by citizenship and the particular interpretation advocated via NCS. As ever responses would be most welcome.

Thanks to Lyam Galpin for drawing the article to our attention.