Transformative Youth Work and Impact Evaluation – a contradiction in terms? A Challenging Conference tackled the tensions.

Transformative Youth Work International Conference

Developing and Communicating Impact – 4th September – 6th September, Plymouth Marjon University

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Rob White from the University of Tasmania opening the conference

I arrived in Plymouth, weary and a trifle sulky. A delayed flight, the teeming London hustle and bustle plus a tortuous journey on an ageing dysfunctional train, all seemed to add to my despond. Blaming neoliberalism didn’t seem to help much. However, in the early hours, my spirits arose, courtesy of a jovial and helpful night porter. The next morning witnessed the continuing revival of my demeanour as the student ambassadors, administrative and kitchen staff went out of their way to be hospitable. And, the conference itself, bringing together workers from across the globe,  proved to be challenging, critical and contradictory, but above all uplifting.

I won’t say much more as Jon Ord’s address below captures the atmosphere of the memorable proceedings. However, I hope, if the mood calls, to take up some of the issues emanating from the debates in future posts on my revived blog, Chatting Critically, including Tony Jeffs’ eloquent soliloquy on the demise of youth work in the UK.

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Jon Ord addresses the conference

Jon Ord, Associate Professor
University of St Mark & St John,

Apologies for not being able to bring myself together to make the closing address – I have found the experience of enabling such a rich and rewarding experience for so many people genuinely humbling and was more than a little overwhelmed… Below is what I wished to say:

Closing Address

I would like to say a few words to draw the conference to a close:

If I truly honest my best hope was that we averted a disaster… however, if I am to believe the kind words that many of you have shared with me over the last couple of days perhaps I can safely say it may have been somewhat of a success.

On more than the odd occasion, as some of you know, over the last year or so I had wished I had not had such a ‘bright idea’ but the feedback many of you have given me and seeing how much people seemed to have got out of meeting up here over the last few days it has genuinely made it all worthwhile – so I would sincerely like to thank you all for your involvement in the conference – in particular the spirit in which you have engaged in conversation and debate – it is you that have made it the success that it has been.

In particular, I would like thank to all those who have come from far and wide – here in the UK we really do not want to cut ourselves off from our neighbours and distant friends – despite what you may read and see… It is certainly the diversity of experiences in no small part that has enriched the 3 days.

I would also like to especially thank the speakers, chairs & panel members, there has been a really high standard of papers. And on that point, I would like to draw your attention to the possibility of submitting a paper for a special issue of a journal, either the Journal of Open Youth Work or the Journal of Applied Youth Studies.

On the subject of diversity of keynote speakers, I was left in an unfortunate position, as I approached seven people to speak at the conference – four women and three men. The four women all declined, so I was left with the three men. The original intention for the panel was two women and two men, one of the women could not be persuaded and was replaced by a man as he shared her perspective.

Two other points in terms of moving forward. Firstly given how much people seemed to have enjoyed the event it occurred to me that we may try and put on another event at some point – there no guarantees but it seems to be something that would be worth looking into.

Secondly, we have tried to capture all the talks on ‘Panopto’ (voice recording and slides) if this has been successful, we will firstly check if anyone objects to their talk being made public and then will upload them on to the post-conference website and it can then form a resource.

Finally please provide any feedback on the event directly to me at jord@marjon.ac.uk

By way of thanks, I would like to mention Clayton Thomas and Mercedes Farhad for their help with the programme, both of whom went the extra mile to produce such a high-quality programme – Mercedes even came in when she was ill and about to go on annual leave, to ensure we got it to the printers on time. I would also like to thank Mark Leather for sharing some of the lessons learnt from the hosting of the European Outdoor Education Seminar last year. Thank you also to the student ambassadors who have helped to ensure the smooth running of the conference and to catering for producing such fine ‘English’ fayre. I would also thank my Erasmus partners for their support.

There are two people who do however need special mention – firstly Tony Jeffs who has so generously shared the many years of experience that he and his colleagues Naomi Thomson, Tania de St Croix, Paula Connaughton and others at Youth & Policy have gleaned from organising and running conferences for many years – this event stands on both his and their shoulders.

One person needs singling out in particular however – for there is really only one person without whom this conference would never have taken place. It was somewhat foisted upon her and she had little say in whether she was to be involved. Furthermore, the timing was terrible as it clashed with the preparations for the biggest event of the year – graduation – however, she has always been 100% behind the project and does everything with a smile. Her attention to detail is exceptional, her organisational skills exemplary and as a colleague of mine Aaron Beacom said to me recently – she is totally unflappable. I would like you to show your warmest appreciation for Helen Thewliss.

I now declare this conference closed and wish you all a safe journey.

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The Impact of Youth Work in Europe: A Study of Five European Countries

This book is the culmination of an Erasmus+ funded project which aimed to independently identify the impact of youth work in the UK (England), Finland, Estonia, Italy and France. It applied a participatory evaluation methodology entitled ‘transformative evaluation’ which collated young people’s own accounts of the impact of youth work on their lives – collecting their stories. Over 700 stories were collected in total over a year-long process.

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Speakers from the five countries presenting the research findings to the conference

Find an e-book version of the study on this link

https://www.humak.fi/en/julkaisut/the-impact-of-youth-work-in-europe-a-study-of-five-european-countries/


 

Thanks to Stephen Dixon of Marjon for the photos.

Contribute to the Labour Party Consultation, ‘Building a Statutory Youth Service’

Following our concern about the tone of Labour’s proposed revival of youth services – Reviving Youth Work as Soft-Policing: Labour Party Policy? and Bernard Davies responds to Labour’s skewed youth work vision  – we want to motivate contributions to the Party’s consultation on youth services. The content of the consultation document is much more encouraging than the initial press releases.

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Youth services do a vital job in our communities. The benefits they provide for young people are real and long-lasting. However, with direct government funding to local authorities falling by a half since 2010, youth services have seen significant cutbacks as councils seek to make savings. This means that a generation of young people could potentially be left without the opportunity to play a full part in our communities.

Thank you for taking part in the consultation process. Whether you’re a Labour Party member or not, we want to hear your ideas on how the next Labour government should tackle the challenges our country faces, and build a more equal Britain for the many, not the few.

In order to contribute go to the link below, where you can use an embedded submission box or e-mail youthservices@labour.org.uk. 

https://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/commissions/education/youth-services?ua=submission

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To access a copy of the consultation document, go to https://www.scribd.com/document/385206130/Youth-Services-Consultation?secret_password=Yae5LKPVH5u34jRM05KM#from_embed

The consultation period ends on November 12, 2018

 

 

The Sage Handbook of Youth Work Practice: ‘a casket of thoughts for the 21st century’

I’ve a lovely book of Parlour songs, ‘A Casquet of Vocal Gems’, which I know reveals my age. However, looking forward not backward, it is my feeling that this SAGE handbook has more than its fair share of analytic gems from practice. At this moment I’ve simply listed the contents of the handbook to give you a sense of its range and diversity. It has already been pointed out in a Facebook thread that a notable number of contributors to the book are supporters and critical friends of IDYW. We will take that very much as a compliment. In the near future, we hope to review at least some of the book’s delights and indeed would welcome your responses to both individual chapters and the whole.

The SAGE Handbook of Youth Work Practice
Edited by
Pam Alldred Brunel University London
Fin Cullen St Mary’s University Twickenham London
Kathy Edwards RMIT University
Dana Fusco York College, City University of New York
The SAGE Handbook of Youth Work Practice showcases the value of professional work with young people as it is practiced in diverse forms in locations around the world. The editors have brought together an international team of contributors who reflect the wide range of approaches that identify as youth work, and the even wider range of approaches that identify variously as community work or community development work with young people, youth programmes, and work with young people within care, development and (informal) education frameworks. The Handbook is structured to explore histories, current practice and future directions:

Part One: Approaches to Youth Work Across Time and Place
Part Two: Professional Work With Young People: Projects and Practices to Inspire
Part Three: Values and Ethics in Work with Young People
Part Four: Current Challenges and Hopes for the Future

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Introduction by Pam Alldred, Fin Cullen, Kathy Edwards, and Dana Fusco
PART 01: Approaches to Youth Work Across Time and Place
Chapter 1: Defining Youth Work: exploring the boundaries, continuity and diversity of youth work practice by Trudi Cooper

Chapter 2: How to Support Young People in a Changing World: The sociology of generations and youth work by Dan Woodman and Johanna Wyn

Chapter 3: Looking over our shoulders: Youth work and its history by Anthony Jeffs

Chapter 4: Some conceptions of youth and youth work in the United States by Dana Fusco

Chapter 5: Youth Work as a Colonial Export: Explorations From the Global South by Kathy Edwards and Ismail Shaafee

Chapter 6: Let Principles Drive Practice: Reclaiming Youth Work in India by Roshni K. Nuggehalli

Chapter 7: The Impact of Neoliberalism Upon the Character and Purpose of English Youth Work and Beyond by Tony Taylor, Paula Connaughton, Tania de St Croix, Bernard Davies, and Pauline Grace

Chapter 8: Youth Work in England: A Profession with a Future? by Helen M.F. Jones

Chapter 9: Precarious Practices with Risky Subjects? Policy and Practice Explorations in the UK and Europe by Fin Cullen and Simon Bradford

Chapter 10: Undoing Sexism and Youth Work Practice: Seeking Equality, Unsettling Ideology, Affirming Difference – A UK Perspective by Janet Batsleer

Chapter 11: Intersectionality and Resistance in Youth Work: Young People, Peace and Global ‘Development’ in a Racialized World by Momodou Sallah, Mike Ogunnusi and Richard Kennedy

Chapter 12: Youth Work and Social Pedagogy: Reflections from the UK and Europe by Kieron Hatton

Chapter 13: 21st Century Youth Work: Life Under Global Capitalism by Hans Skott-Myhre and Kathleen Skott-Myhre

 

PART 02: Professional Work With Young People: Projects/Practices to Inspire

Chapter 14: Participation, Empowerment and Democracy: Engaging with Young People’s Views by Philippa Collin, Girish Lala, and Leo Fieldgrass

Chapter 15: Faith-based Youth Work: Education, Engagement and Ethics by Graham Bright, Naomi Thompson, Peter Hart, and Bethany Hayden

Chapter 16: Together we Walk: The Importance of Relationship in Youth Work with Refugee Young People by Jen Couch

Chapter 17: Screaming Aloud from the da old plantation down-under: Youth Work on the margins in Aotearoa New Zealand by Fiona Beals, Peter- Clinton Foaese, Martini Miller, Helen Perkins and Natalie Sargent

Chapter 18: Promoting Children First Youth Work in the Youth Justice System and Beyond by Stephen Case and Rachel Morris

Chapter 19: Critical Street Work: the politics of working (in) outside institutions by Michael Whelan and Helmut Steinkellner

Chapter 20: Youth Work, Arts Practice and Transdisciplinary Space by Frances Howard, Steph Brocken, and Nicola Sim

Chapter 21: Fringe Work – Street-level Divergence in Swedish Youth Work by Björn Andersson

Chapter 22: The Alchemy of work with Young Women by Susan Morgan and Eliz McArdle

Chapter 23: Supporting Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Diverse Young People: UK Methods and Approaches by Catherine McNamara

PART 03: Values and Ethics in Work with Young People

Chapter 24: An Ethics of Caring in Youth Work Practice by Joshua Spiers and David Giles

Chapter 25: Relationship Centrality in Work with Young People with Experience of Violence by Daniel Jupp Kina

Chapter 26: Reflective Practice: Gaze, Glance and Being a Youth Worker by Jo Trelfa

Chapter 27: The Challenges for British Youth Workers of Government Strategies to ‘Prevent Terrorism’ by Paul Thomas

Chapter 28: The Politics of Gang Intervention in New England, USA: Knowledge, Partnership, and Youth Transformation by Ellen Foley, Angel Guzman, Miguel Lopez, Laurie Ross, Jennifer Safford-Farquharson, with Katie Byrne, Egbert Pinero, and Ron Waddell

Chapter 29: Coercion in Sexual Relationships: Challenging Values in school-based work by Jo Heslop

Chapter 30: Youth & Community Approaches To Preventing Child Sexual Exploitation: South African and UK Project Experiences by Kate D’Arcy, Roma Thomas, and Candice Wallas

Chapter 31: Allies, Not Accomplices: What Youth Work can Learn from Trans and Disability Movements by Wolfgang Vachon and Tim McConnell

Chapter 32: The Challenges of Using a Youth Development Approach in a Mental Health and Addictions Service for Young People by Mark Wood

Chapter 33: Gaze Interrupted: Speaking back to Stigma with Visual Research by Victoria Restler and Wendy Luttrell

Chapter 34: The Ethical Foundations of Youth Work as an International Profession by Howard Sercombe

Chapter 35: Youth Work at the End of Life? by Rajesh Patel

PART 04: Current Challenges, Future Possibilities

Chapter 36: Youth Work Practices in Conflict Societies: Lessons, Challenges and Opportunities by Ken Harland and Alastair Scott-McKinley

Chapter 37: Popular Education and Youth Work: Learnings from Ghana by Marion Thomson and Kodzo Chapman

Chapter 38: Roma Youth and Global Youth Work by Brian Belton

Chapter 39: Community Development with Young People – Exploring a New Model by Helen Bartlett and Adam Muirhead

Chapter 40: Returning to Responsive Youth Work in New York City by Susan Matloff-Nieves, Tanya Wiggins, Jennifer Fuqua, Marisa Ragonese, Steve Pullano, and Gregory Brender

Chapter 41: Uncomfortable Knowledge and the Ethics of Good Practice in Australia’s Offshore Refugee Detention Centers by Judith Bessant and Rob Watts

Chapter 42: The Evolution of Youth Empowerment: From Programming to Partnering by Heather Ramey and Heather Lawford

Chapter 43: Towards a Shared Vision of Youth Work: Developing a Worker-Based Youth Work Curriculum by Tomi Kiilakoski, Viljami Kinnunen, and Ronnie Djupsund

Chapter 44: Evaluating Youth Work in its Contexts by Sue Cooper and Anu Gretschel

Conclusion by Dana Fusco, Pam Alldred, Kathy Edwards, and Fin Cullen

July 2018 • 617 pages • Cloth (9781473939523) • £120.00

Obviously, the book is expensive, although Adam Muirhead argues [tongue in cheek?] that it works out at a reasonable £2.72 per chapter! Certainly, we should make every effort to get the handbook into academic and workplace libraries. Rumour is that already some teams of workers are clubbing together to meet the cost. Collective spirit rises from the ashes.

 

IDYW response to the APPG Inquiry – What are the training and workforce development needs to secure and sustain youth work?

YWalive

The fourth question asked by the NYA on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group.

What are the training and workforce development needs to secure and sustain youth work?

Recent evidence has indicated that the number of courses leading to JNC-recognised youth and community work qualifications has fallen substantially since 2012, with only 36 undergraduate degree courses still operating in 2014-15. Structures for training and qualifying part-time and volunteer youth workers have also become much more fragmented and indeed privatised, leaving participants often having to fund themselves on the routes that are available.

The main route now for ‘professional qualification’ is a degree course although there are still courses up to Level 3 that are delivered ‘locally’ through various training providers. In the past workers would often start working either as a paid worker or volunteer in their local youth centre/project. However the significant change in funding arrangements for delivering part-time training (now the NVQ), together with the severe cuts in Local Authority Youth Services, the dominance of the outsourcing and commissioning culture,, means that we have lost an underpinning foundation for the planning and delivery of professional development for the workforce. In particular, we have lost an authentically local character to training and staff development. Training isn’t commissioned to meet need, but is ‘provided’ by organisations that can procure funding to offer a Level 2 qualification.  Those going through training frequently have no work or volunteer experience.

The collapse of Local Authority Youth Services and the demise of open access youth work has posed enormous problems for universities offering youth work degrees. Inevitably they have had to adjust to a fast-changing workscape, within which many of their graduates find employment in Schools, Youth Social Work, Youth Justice and beyond. The pressure is to produce students, who are employable in a diversity of settings, which in itself is no bad thing. However, from our perspective, the casualty in this blurring of the boundaries is the improvisatory and autonomous youth work we sacrifice at our peril. Addressing this concern is far from easy. Clearly, a renewal of open youth work on the ground is vital, alongside revisiting alternative routes to qualification, the extension of a reimagined NVQ qualification beyond Level 3 and the reinvigoration of Level 1/2 part-time training.

If open access, process-led youth work is, in any substantial and effective form, to again be made available to those thousands of young people who no longer have any access to it, dedicated and state funded action will be needed to provide sufficient and appropriate training opportunities for both full-time and part-time paid and volunteer youth workers, not forgetting students in Higher Education.

 

IDYW Response to the APPG Inquiry – What is the role of youth work in addressing the needs and opportunities for young people?

 

 

YWalive

Ta to andyclow.com

The first question asked by the NYA on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group.

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What is the role of youth work in addressing the needs and opportunities for young people?

There are many different versions of youth work and it is highly likely the Committee will hear about many of them.  It is a term much used and much abused, reduced in recent times to mean more or less any form of work with young people. In contrast ‘In Defence of Youth Work’  argues that youth work takes place in a distinctive, open and free setting outside of the formal and imposed institutions of society, for example, schools, social services and youth justice. It starts from young people’s identification of their needs. It is holistic in intent, rooted in meaningful association and challenging conversation. Above all, it is based on the building of relationships with young people, which can be neither prescribed nor imposed. So often now, youth workers are directed to work with young people because they are perceived by others to have a problem, or to be causing a problem, or to be deficient in some way. This work demands predetermined outcomes, to be achieved within a set timescale. It may well be appropriate in other settings, but it contravenes an essential ingredient in the youth work process.  The rhythm and pace of our interaction with young people are under their control.

 

Thus we reaffirm our belief in an emancipatory and democratic Youth Work, founded on cornerstones of a practice, which:

  • works in non-stigmatising  with young people as young people who choose to be involved;
  • takes place in open-access settings – physical, social and cultural spaces which young people can ‘own’ and experience as safe;
  • is rooted in mutually respectful and trusting relationships amongst young people and between young person and adults;
  • offers young people informal educational opportunities and challenges which recognise their strengths and potential and start from their concerns and interests;
  • within boundaries of consistency and reliability, responds flexibly and creatively to young people in their here-and-now  as well as to their ‘transitions’;
  • works with and through their peer networks and wider shared identities, in the process identifying and responding as appropriate to individual needs and concerns;
  • at times deliberately blurs personal and professional boundaries  in order to communicate as openly and honestly as possible with young people;
  • uses activities both as vehicles for young people’s personal development and as opportunities in their own right for individual and group achievement and affirmation.

If youth work is to be renewed in the interests of young people and the common good, it is essential that state and voluntary sector policy-makers and providers start from this kind of positive definition of the practice, its purpose and role – as an educational and developmental provision for a wide range of young people who choose to engage in their own leisure time. On the other hand, if in the present political, media and funding climate the Committee makes the case primarily on the grounds that youth work could help reduce knife crime or drug-taking or school drop-outs, important as these issues are, what will almost certainly get ‘revived’ are ‘youth services’ that once again are ‘targeted’. As a result, most of those up-to-a-million young people who have been most directly affected by the systematic deconstruction of local Youth Services will get little if any benefit.

Gus John responds to Teresa May’s ‘Windrush’ invitation

Gus John arrived in the UK in August 1964, aged 19, to study for the priesthood. But almost from the moment he arrived, he became involved in what was to become his life’s calling – education, youth work and the struggle for social justice and human rights for embattled communities as an activist and an academic.

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Ta to Gusjohn.com

Open Letter to Prime Minister Theresa May

Dear Prime Minister

 Re:   Invitation to a reception for the 70th anniversary of Windrush at 10 Downing Street

It was with both surprise and utter bemusement that I received your invitation to the above.

We in this country have become used to foreign heads of state and leaders of movements being made international pariahs and being refused entry to the UK.   Robert Mugabe, Muammar Gaddafi, Louis Farrakhan, among others.   In my book, Prime Minister, the policies of your government, the incitement to racial hatred that they undoubtedly represent and the denial of fundamental human rights and the right to life itself to citizens of the Windrush generation who devoted all of their adult years to the development of Britain are enough to make you no less a pariah in the eyes of the Commonwealth and of the freedom-loving world than those whom your government over time has sought to ostracise.

 

In July 2013, with you as Home Secretary,  your government’s own vans were running around London boroughs with a large ‘immigrant’ population and displaying huge billboards targeted at ‘illegal’ immigrants and telling them to ‘Go Home or Face Arrest’.  What is worse is that your government lied not just to ‘illegal immigrants’ whom it wished to flush out, but to the public whom it wished to impress with its ‘zero tolerance’ stance on illegal immigration: ‘106 Arrests Last Week In Your Area’.  It turns out that 106 was the total number of arrests across the 6 pilot boroughs in which the vans had operated over a period of two days.  Arrests, not prosecutions or deportations. In your attempts to create ‘a hostile environment’ for ‘illegal’ immigrants, you placed 4 generations of Windrush arrivants and their descendants in the sight of any would be defender of white Britain and its borders, including racists and neo-fascists who felt they had a patriotic duty to help prevent Britain from being ‘swamped’ by any means necessary, including murder and mayhem.

On 16 June 2016, Jo Cox MP was brutally murdered in a street in her constituency of Batley & Spen in West Yorkshire by the white supremacist, Thomas Mair.  Cox was unequivocal in her support for refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants escaping armed conflict, genocide and hunger and risking their lives in rickety boats to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.  She was doing this in a country where the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) was focusing the two main parliamentary parties on the anger of the white British population at their failure to control immigration and reclaim ‘Little England’ from the clutches and the legal strictures of the European Union, its Schengen Treaty, free movement of labour and human rights protocols.

Despite that horrific murder and all it said about Britain and its relentless conflation of immigration and race, the British electorate voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union and ‘claim our country back’.  What is worse, both as Home Secretary and as the post-Cameron Prime Minister, you redoubled your efforts to create a ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants, condemning long retired workers of the Windrush generation to uncertainty, misery, physical hardship and denial of the same life saving health services for which they had paid throughout their working lives.

It may well be, Prime Minister, that you would have the good grace to take the opportunity to tell your invited guests how sorry you are for your part in all of that brutal, inhumane and racist treatment of former colonised Africans who have and had no interest other than to serve this nation and do their best by their communities and families.  But, one of the uglier manifestations of whiteness in this society is an unassailable sense of in-your-face entitlement.  I do not believe that you are entitled to the magnanimity of those misguided folk who might well be happy to receive your invitation and to attend your Windrush anniversary celebration.  As far as I am concerned, I stand with those who suffered detention, deportation and mental ill health, some of whom even now face an earlier death as a result of being denied access to health services on account of your ‘hostile environment’ regime.

It would be a shameful betrayal to them all to accept your invitation and join you in Downing Street to mark the arrival of the Windrush 70 years ago and the contribution to British society of those whom it brought and their descendants.

Invite me again, please, when you meet with civil society to discuss the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission on Reparations for African Enslavement which you would no doubt waste no more time in establishing on the back of your government’s Windrush scandal.

Yours, with sadness

 Professor Gus John

Equality and Human Rights Campaigner

Also see Gus John’s powerful critique of the Windrush Project itself.

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70th Anniversary of Windrush 1948

Sustenance for the Senses 4 – PAR, PYJ, Austerity, Families and Democracy

Very interesting thread on Facebook about Participatory Action Research [PAR] sparked by Lucy Hill’s opener, full of recommended links, the offer by Roy Smith of an initial meeting of interested parties and the chance of an IDYW seminar on PAR in the Autumn. Will keep my fingers crossed. Have a look.

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Ta to IDS

Hi, I will soon be carrying out a dissertation on ‘Co-creating a community space with young people through participatory action research’. I am in the lucky position that we have secured funding for a purpose-built youth centre so the research will feed directly into this.

I will be exploring the concepts of participation, community and asset-based community development but can anyone recommend some key reading around PAR with young people?


 

PYJtransatlantic

A new article from Steve Case and Kevin Haines, our friends at Positive Youth Justice, in Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal.

Transatlantic ‘Positive Youth Justice’: a distinctive new model for responding to offending by children?

This paper examines the origins, main features, guiding principles and underpinning evidence bases of the different versions of positive youth justice developed in England/Wales (Children First, Offenders Second) and the USA (Positive Youth Justice Model) and their respective critiques of negative and child-friendly forms of youth justice. Comparing and contrasting these two versions enables an evaluation of the extent to which positive youth justice presents as a coherent and coordinated transatlantic ‘movement’, as opposed to disparate critiques of traditional youth justice with limited similarities.

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BRITAIN’S BIG SQUEEZE

The New York Times comments via the Daily Telegraph: Well worth reading in full.

In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything

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Parts of central Liverpool that were rebuilt to attract tourists stand alongside largely neglected areas. credit Andrea Bruce for The New York Times

After eight years of budget cutting, Britain is looking less like the rest of Europe and more like the United States, with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty.

PRESCOT, England — A walk through this modest town in the northwest of England amounts to a tour of the casualties of Britain’s age of austerity.

The old library building has been sold and refashioned into a glass-fronted luxury home. The leisure centre has been razed, eliminating the public swimming pool. The local museum has receded into town history. The police station has been shuttered.

Now, as the local government desperately seeks to turn assets into cash, Browns Field, a lush park in the centre of town, may be doomed, too. At a meeting in November, the council included it on a list of 17 parks to sell to developers.

“Everybody uses this park,” says Jackie Lewis, who raised two children in a red brick house a block away. “This is probably our last piece of community space. It’s been one after the other. You just end up despondent.”

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Roy Smith is running a workshop on Family and Democracy in London on the 9th June as part of AntiUniversity 2018. He says it would be great to hear from people interested in political education and how families might work together for political and social change.

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How do we learn about democracy? The biggest influence on most young people’s political views and behaviours are those of their parents and community. Many people feel let down by politicians creating negative experiences, alienating them from democratic processes that should exist to help them. This leads to apathy and conclusions like ‘they are all as bad as each other’ or ‘nothing ever changes’. I am researching how families could improve learning about democracy and lead social change together.

The first part of this workshop will be a chance to discuss some of the challenges and inequalities in our political system, sharing experiences and opinions on political education as well as imagining how things could be better.

We will then be experimenting with photovoice, a research method that uses photography to answer questions, to explore how political decision-making impacts on physical spaces, the family and everyday life. This may involve going outside and using camera phones to capture images.

It’s a free event, but please book a place on Eventbrite if interested. If you look at http://www.antiuniversity.org there are loads more events going on over 2 weeks. Sadly this is the last year, but it would be good to make it a great one.
https://www.facebook.com/events/176787719693906/?ti=cl

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