Learning from Practice – the new International Journal of Open Youth Work

A cordial greeting to the second edition of the International Journal of Open Youth Work, ‘Learning from Practice’ – available by this link as a pdf. Its contents have already got me reaching for my critical pen, which can only mean one thing. Like all properly challenging texts, a raw nerve has been touched. Thanks for the stimulus.



01 The good practice of Young meet young
Mårten Jönsson and Marie Larneby
02 Open youth work in a closed setting:
Applying key elements of Youth Work in a school
Luke Blackham and Jessica Smith
03 PLOUTOS – Pedagogical learning through the
Operation and Urging of Teams for Overcoming
Social exclusion
Angela Passa, Georgia Drosopoulou
and Dr. Vassilis Passas
04 Finding common ground without losing your own.
Results of the project ‘Mapping Professional Open
Youth Work in Europe’
Manfred Zentner and Alexandra Beweis
05 Key competences of non-formal
learning in youth work: based on the example of
Estonian open youth centres
Ilona-Evelyn Rannala and Anu Allekand


The first article is a best practice example about how youth workers can
create dialogue between young Swedes and young arriving refugees. The
second article addresses an important discussion about how open youth
work perspectives can be adapted and used in a formal school setting.
The third article brings us to the Greek town of Patras and an examination
of the methodologies used in the project PLOUTOS. Erasmus + grants are
important for the field of youth work; the fourth article examines and
investigates a strategic partnership within the Erasmus + Programme, and
gives important insight into successes and challenges in such projects.
The last article in this issue problematizes the key competencies of nonformal
learning in youth work in an Estonian context.

IDYW 9th Conference – ‘buzzy’, critical and collaborative



Bernard Davies had sent this report on Friday’s conference in Birmingham, bashed out in his own words to give a flavour of what one Facebook message called a ‘buzzy’ experience.



Matthew Hill, Centre for Youth Impact in full flow


Though it mostly it felt a good news day, the bad news was that not only could Tony Taylor not be with us at the conference because of his broken foot. Even the advanced tech skills of two of our most ‘tecky’ Steering Group members couldn’t quite connect him to us via Skype. A great disappointment given how much work he’d put into the 16-point draft position paper, which acted as the main focus for the day and the other preparation he’d done.


Quite a lot of more positive news did seem to come out of the day, however – attended by 50+ people. As a much-needed reminder that youth work can and does have a future, these included a group of ‘Young Ambassadors’ from the Wakefield Youth Association and a number of current youth and community work students, together with their tutors.


The day began with a minute’s silence to honour three highly respected colleagues who have died recently, namely Peter Duke, John Parr and Kevin Morris. Poignantly Kevin’s funeral was taking place at the very same moment.  The conference proceeded with a brief input setting out the background and development so far of the IDYW ‘Is the Tide Turning?’ initiative since it was launched in the aftermath of last year’s General Election. Work throughout the day took place then in five groups, chosen initially by people for its focus in the first session on one of five more specific issues running through the position paper’s 16 bullet points: outcomes; practice; purposes and values; structuring and funding provision; and training and employment. The lively and indeed often clearly passionate discussions generated many sheets of paper recording key points for IDYW to take away and use in any future work on the paper.



Leigh Middleton, NYA, responds to the debate


The two panel sessions which followed allowed brief inputs from organisations which are pretty key at this point in the youth work struggle – the Centre for Youth Impact, the Institute for Youth Work, NYA, the Training Agencies Group, Unison and Unite. These again prompted exchanges within the groups as well as with some of the speakers directly. A final session in groups and plenary gave people a chance to give voice to some of the main messages to IDYW from the groups – some strongly supportive of points on the draft paper, others pointing to need for further thinking, such as the need not to be defensive in our struggle for youth work but to make the case positively on the basis of its strengths and potential.



Paul Fenton, PALYCW,  puts in his pennyworth


Amidst all this hard work, the café-style arrangement, the availability throughout the day of drinks and bits to snack on and the regular brief breaks clearly opened the way not just for many other searching (if unrecorded) informal discussion and exchanges but also for much personal catching-up and for new encounters.


One individual feedback comment at the end of the day: ‘This is my first time at an IDYW event and I found it really interesting and stimulating’. And on Facebook: ‘an…excellent conference … both informative and inspiring and great to catch up with people that I don’t bump into very often’ – prompting a ‘Hear, hear’ response from someone else.


All very gratifying, though still leaving lots of thinking to do about where next to take all the day’s interest, debates and energy – so further reactions and comments certainly welcome.

Thanks to Kevin Jones for the photos.


Is the tide turning? UK Youth certainly doesn’t think so. Bernard Davies responds.



Ta to transcripts.org


The CYPN headline says it all, UK Youth sets out plans to attract investment in sector. Neoliberal to the core UK Youth, positioning itself to be the voice of the youth sector, argues in its State of the membership 2018 that ‘the sector needs to diversify how it is funded and work more closely with the private sector to ensure it can provide a long-term sustainable service amid cuts in local authority spending’. The report goes on to express its desire ‘to see social entrepreneurial approaches, including social investment, embedded in the sector and is particularly keen to see the formation of long-term partnerships between youth groups and businesses’.


In the first of our responses, ahead of this Friday’s In Defence of Youth Work conference, Bernard Davies expresses sharply his concern about UK Youth’s direction of travel.

The future for youth work – as seen by UK Youth


In only two or three years the world of the ‘traditional’ national voluntary youth organisation has changed beyond recognition. It was in November 2012 that a senior DfE official told a conference whose organisers included UK Youth and the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) that, at a time when the sector was expected increasingly ‘to do more with less’, it needed to consider mergers as a way of protecting itself. Whether as a direct response or not, in 2015 Ambition – once the National Association of Boys Clubs – merged with the Confederation of Heads of Young People’s Services. Then in March 2016, after absorbing NCVYS, in September last year Ambition itself became a ‘subsidiary’ of – that is, it merged into – UK Youth. whose own many previous titles had included the National Association of Youth Clubs.


These high level decisions were not always welcomed by these organisations’ grassroots. In part as a reaction to the 2012 decision by Ambition – by then known as Clubs for Young People – to adopt its new PR-friendly title, a new and independent National Association of Boys and Girls Clubs emerged. This is now providing a range of national sporting, arts and other events as well as infrastructure support for ‘1000 youth clubs in the most deprived communities’ and for over twenty county associations. To fill a perceived gap left by NCVYS’s disappearance, moves are also now detectable to create a new national network for the many local and regional councils of voluntary youth service which are still operating.


UK Youth has now published ‘an overview of its membership data as a merged organisation’, based on a careful sampling of the 230 organisations now directly affiliated to it. When partners’ figures in Scotland, Ireland and Wales are added, these cater for approximately four million young people across the UK. Drawing on the government’s own returns and on two Unison reports, its analysis is set starkly in the wider, especially financial, national contexts: the 41 per cent reduction in ‘universal spending’ between 2010-15 and 2017-18; the loss between 2012 and 2016 of over 3600 post, mostly part-timers; and evidence that ‘at local authority level, the most deprived areas have seen the greatest cuts’. With provision now increasingly dependent on volunteers, UK Youth’s conclusion is that ‘the youth sector has transitioned from a largely statutory provision to a largely voluntary sector-led service’.


In response to this devastation, in its penultimate paragraph, the report slips in a suggestion that, in order ‘to take full advantage of existing finance’, one possibility to be ‘explored’ is ‘redirecting reduced NCS funding (circa £400 million). Overall, however, such expectations of the state are noticeable mainly by their absence. So too is any analysis of the deeper structural causes of the current crisis for open access youth work, and indeed even more importantly for today’s younger generation. That ‘ideologies’ are shaping these policies is mentioned, as part of ‘the political make-up … of councils’ which has driven ‘the restructuring of statutory youth services’. The comment, however, appears in passing and without any critical explanation of what those ideologies are or how and why they have been so damaging both for a practice like youth work and for young people.

This uncritical stance on the dominant ideas of our times and the power relations underpinning them is signalled on the first page of the UK Youth paper by the inclusion. without comment, of a boxed quote from the minister currently holding the ‘youth’ brief as part of her role as Minister for Sport and Civil Society. In this, as at points elsewhere in the report, youth work in the shape of the youth club – ‘for many young people … their only safe place’ – is immediately conflated with the ‘youth services’ through which they get ‘access (to) mental health services, citizenship education, social mixing and training’. It is perhaps therefore not surprising that another of the factors driving that ‘re-structuring of statutory youth services’ – what are evasively called ‘overall financial challenges in local authorities’ – are never explained as stemming from the minister’s own and previous governments’ policies which, under the cloak of ‘austerity’, have been designed to get the state out of as many public services as possible. Indeed the government seems to garner at least implied praise for what I can only call forms of ‘gesture’ funding in support of the character-building, resilience-developing outcomes on which it insists: £50 million here for cadet forces, £40 million there for young people’s ‘social action’, another £16 million for a Youth Engagement Fund based on ‘social investment funds’ and ‘payment by results’.  


Nor does the UK Youth paper address in any direct way how such policies have affected the lives of young people. It notes for example that ‘only 13 per cent of young people in former industrial areas and 14 per cent in remote rural coldspots progress to university compared with 27 per cent in hotspots’. These blockages, however, conceived in the report as ‘challenges of adolescence’, apparently result simply from the ‘lack of aspiration to peer pressures or issues at home’. None of these, of course, are insignificant matters for young people themselves. What they do not do, however, is explain the glaring educational inequalities spelt out earlier. As a result, for tackling the problems of its members, the youth club, as well as providing that safe space, ends up confined it to ‘enabling young people to lead happier, more fulfilling lives’ and ‘empowering young people to make a positive contribution to their community’.


So how, positively, is UK Youth planning to deal with this ‘new context’? Certainly not, it seems, by starting from the proposition that the up to one million young people who have used or tried youth work facilities in the past are citizens now and so entitled to a fair slice of the collective cake. For UK Youth, the answer largely remains ‘to embed social entrepreneurial approaches and secure additional income for the sector, for example through supporting access to social investment opportunities’. (Though these are to include ‘collaborative work with … the private sector’, UK Youth gives no indication of what ethical risks tests it thinks should be applied here).


Even as – post-Carillion and the rest – the neo-liberal shibboleths come under renewed searching scrutiny, this paper makes clear that these remain deeply and uncritically embedded in the thinking of our youth sector ‘leaders’. Still not apparently worth any serious consideration, therefore, is an alternative possibility: that the state – albeit in re-imagined more bottom-up forms – might and indeed should again find and allocate resources for open access, informal educational facilities which its young citizens can use by choice in their leisure time.  

Bernard Davies


RIP, John Parr, former Head of Youth and Community Work, Westhill College

In Defence of Youth Work is committed to remembering and respecting those, who have contributed to the creative and pluralist tradition of work with young people we wish to defend and extend. 


John Parr, former Head of Youth and Community Work at the Westhill College in Birmingham died recently. John Holmes has penned this informative and touching tribute.


It was in 1978 that I first met John. I was a researcher looking at career paths of ex-students of the JNC qualifying courses in England. I met John, as Head of Community and Youth Work at Westhill College in Birmingham, the longest established Youth Work course. I was looking for support in pursuing research that I was quickly finding out was a highly political and contentious area. John, along with a number of other heads of courses (such as Peter Duke from Leicester, ….) were well aware that the research could threaten the funding of their courses (direct from the DES at this time) but were helpful to me. Little did I know at the time that I would be taking over John’s role at Westhill, on John’s retirement in 1991.

By 1978 John had already had a long career in youth work. Born in Liverpool, and with lifelong family links to the city, Birmingham became his home for his adult life. John attended Westhill College as a student in the 1950s and became a lecturer in the 1960s. When I met him I remember he reminded me of my Dad, and seemed from a different generation. His commitment to helping young people was very clear, but for me, as a child of the 1960s, his liking for the youth culture of the 1950s, such as Tommy Steele made him seem the other side of the ‘generation gap’. Only later did I come to realise how open he was to others, how good he was at listening before offering any advice. He had strong principles about not offering advice when not appropriate. I always remember him telling me that he would not interfere with my role when I became head of Community and Youth Work at Westhill. This must have been difficult giving his long links to the college and even living opposite when he retired. It must have grieved him to see Westhill closed and the buildings demolished in the years before he died.


John always struck me as a modest man, and so it came as no surprise to find out at his funeral just how much he had done in the service of others. Within youth work, he was highly valued within youth organisations working with homeless young people, involved in youth counselling, and chaired a key committee of the Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs (BAYC) for many years. A story he told me showed how he tried to build links between his various roles, and the enduring power of youth work. A new Westhill Principal, Gordon Benfield, was appointed in the 1960s and when he was introduced to John they greeted each other as long lost friends. Apparently, John had been Gordon’s patrol leader in the Scouts in Liverpool. John persuaded Gordon to become chair of BAYC, so helping to keep youth work central on Westhill’s agenda, at a time when teacher education was becoming dominant.

Another thing I learned at John’s funeral was just how important John’s Christian faith was to him. John was a very active Methodist lay preacher and clearly his faith gave him the strength to do so much for young people. For me as the first, and last, non-Christian head of Community and Youth Work at Westhill, it was somewhat strange to hear the words ‘Bless you’ from John’s lips, but I now recognise the importance of the tradition that John came from and the huge contribution he made.


John Holmes, January 2018

Introduction to Street Based Youth Work; Detached Youth Work for the young people of today

It’s great to see the D2N2 Youth Work Alliance providing challenging training at no cost. I’d quite like to do the course myself if only to discuss how the notion of ‘radicalisation’ has been distorted. If you’re in the area, don’t miss out.


The D2N2 Youth Work Alliance, Series of Free Seminars presents;

Introduction to Street Based Youth Work; Detached Youth Work for the young people of today

Tuesday 20th March 2018, 7pm for a prompt 7.30pm start and a 9pm finish.

Held at Monty Hind Training Centre, Leen Gate, Lenton, Nottingham NG7 2LX (This venue has been provided free of charge by Nottinghamshire Clubs for Young People)

Target Audience; Those who believe in the value of Youth Work to young people including; Voluntary and Statutory Youth Work managers, practitioners, volunteers, students and those in positions of influence to shape today’s practice with young people.

Learning outcomes; those participating will gain an understanding of the unique value of Detached/Mobile/Outreach youth work approaches, which establish appropriate trusting relationships with young people who choose to spend their free time on the streets and public spaces rather than in organised activity. This approach engages young people in open access social education to enable them to be both safer and happier through an increase in both their resilience and objectivity. In addition to working on young people’s own agendas, it can be utilised to address wider concerns including:

· Avoiding Radicalisation; through regularly providing, at a location of the young people’s choosing, a safe place to engage in conversations around their thoughts, feelings and desires on this subject and to both increase their ability to objectively question and develop their own personal de-escalation strategies

· Preventing Sexual Exploitation; through developing long-term trusting relationships which enable constructive conversations and understanding around both appropriate and inappropriate (exploitative) sexual relationships and have the opportunity to adopt positive practical strategies to keep themselves safe

· Resilience to joining a ‘gang’ or ‘crime’ culture; establishing long-term appropriate trusting and supportive relationships, on young people’s own terms and in an environment of their choosing. To support young people to look objectively at their life choices and consider other options and activities which may increase their resilience, at an early age, to making decisions which may negatively affect their, and their communities, future wellbeing and happiness

Seminar content will include;

· The crucial importance of developing trusting relationships with young people and the structured youth work conversations that follow. (References to academic texts and further reading)

· Clarification of detached work, outreach work and mobile work, and their differing benefits to young people (References to academic texts and further reading)

· Skills/knowledge (training/induction) required by youth workers to be able to plan and deliver this area of work

· Skills/knowledge required of line managers to develop, support and resource quality, street-based work with young people

· Political, community and interagency concerns/support for these areas of youth work including its efficient use of resources

· Consideration of safe working practices, including the obligation to report concerns.

Seminar structure;

The seminar will take the form of a brief introduction, covering history and terminology. Followed by an informal structured conversation between the tutor team and those attending, it will be facilitated through a series of pre-planned open questions and challenges.

The event is facilitated by volunteers from the D2N2 Youth Work Alliance

Please book your place through the following link;





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.



ta to repeatingislands.com



‘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.


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.




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?