Please circulate the above as a pdf – Tide Flyer
We are pleased to say that there has been a positive response to the call for a range of events to debate our ‘is the tide turning?’ paper.
Specific contacts for more info re the above events are:
Some of these events have created their own flyers and I’ll post these during the week. In addition, more gatherings look likely in other parts of the country plus a number of institutions are building into their courses discussion on the paper. More news as soon as it is available.
It does look promising and we hope very much you will be able to participate in the debate.
Last weekend Sheffield was warmed by autumnal sun and the joy emanating from those gathered at Sue Atkins’ 80th birthday party. Crossing the festooned threshold of the venue was to be thrown into a melting pot of humanity – youth workers past and present, the very young and the quite old, the toothful and toothless, folk from a diversity of cultures and backgrounds, All were thrust together through their shared respect and affection for a remarkable woman, who has devoted much of her life to a form of youth work, that aspires to be ‘volatile and voluntary, creative and collective – an association and conversation without guarantees’, informed at every turn by a genuine love for young people.
For my part, I met Sue first at a tumultuous Community and Youth Service Association [CYSA] conference in around 1980, out of which through the power of caucusing emerged the Community and Youth Workers Union [CYWU], of which she was to be a future President. Of her lengthy sojourn within youth work many a tale could be told, which suggests much sooner rather than later, an interview with Sue would be fascinating and revealing. Indeed it would shed light on why in the late 1980’s, in a memorable phrase, she described me, amongst others, as ‘a shite in whining armour’. Watch this space.
For now it’s sobering to note that she continues to be a leading light of the voluntary organisation, Youth Association South Yorkshire, a member of the Education and Training Standards Committee (ETS), the body that provides professional validation for youth work qualifications in England, on behalf of the JNC for Youth & Community Workers, not forgetting her formidable presence on our very own In Defence of Youth Work steering group.
Amongst the variety of tributes made during the day a highlight was the heartfelt rendition of this clever rewriting by Julia Lyford of a Flanders and Swann ditty, ‘The Gas Man cometh’. I suspect its lyrics will strike a chord with many a youth worker visiting these pages.
The Youth Worker Cometh
(With acknowledgements or apologies to Flanders and Swann)
In June of 1940 a circular was born
It spoke of building character, for brains but also brawn
It hoped to foster places where young people chose to be
Both physical and social, or just for jamboree
And it all made work for the volunteer to do dum dum dum…dah dah dah
The fifties kept on building up the recreation show
The teenager was born, discovered coffee and Bongo
In uniforms or sports strips or in drama, choir or dance
Communities and charities took up a moral stance
And it all made work for the youth leader to do dum dum dum….dah dah dah
‘Twas in the 1960s that Albemarle was cool,
It led to flashy centres, to arts labs and to pool
The dawning of Aquarius gave pace to drugs and sex
And self-determination meant that most of us were wrecks
But it all made work for co-counsellors to do dah dah dah…dah dah dah
The Seventies saw people start to recognise the gaps
To notice gender, race and class and reach for the detached
Nintendo loomed, and numbers fell, young people stayed away
So issue – based and project work began to have their day
And it all made work for the activist to do dum dum dum dah dah dah
The Eighties saw the riots, young people were ‘at risk’
From HIV or pregnancy or other kinds of fix
The Union fought the cuts and tackled section 28
We had to look for outcomes, with process out the gate
And it all made work for youth officers to do dum dum dum dah dah dah
From YTS to work – or not – young people bore the brunt
The nineties went thematic and put learning at the front
We taught in schools, had casework loads and tried to join it up
We ended with Connexions, aspirations all amock
And it all made work for personal advisers to do dum dum dum dah dah dah
The Noughties said ‘Youth Matters’ and we ended up in Trusts
We raided health and care funds and pretended to consult
We safeguarded the vulnerable but not so much ourselves
We got bogged down in paperwork or starting stacking shelves
And it all made work for the volunteer to do dum dum dum…dah dah dah
So – in the twenty-tens Sue’s raised us all up in Defence ……
She’s given us momentum, to let youth work re-commence!
FOR THE TUNE!!
And, just to close by observing that to say Sue has been an activist for 80 years seems to be stretching a point. Yet I can just imagine Sue emerging from the womb with a half-apologetic, searching question already on her lips. So eighty years it is and long may it continue.
A Long Read for the weekend about how we achieve mental wealth. It is a welcome shot across the bows of professionals, including youth workers, who act as if the dilemmas are individual rather than social and political.
In his address to a Labour Party conference fringe event, Paul Atkinson examines the social and political forces at work in our society’s current approach to psychological distress and asks what we need from a new government to support and nourish the nation’s mental wealth.
For whatever reasons – reasons that I think are very important and need to be explored – the emotional and psychological difficulties of living in this society are becoming increasingly visible and alarming: in our families; in our schools and colleges; in our local communities; in the attention drawn to mental ill health by (social) media, charities and celebrities, as well as politicians and social policy makers.
Should we think of this growing attention to mental health and the emotional conditions of contemporary life as a sign of growing awareness of the pain and suffering that has always been with us, hidden away in the private closet…
View original post 2,452 more words
Having been out of action for a week and with loads happening I can’t sadly do justice to the latest trio of articles from the new-style Youth & Policy. However, they are all worth your time and contribute significantly to our understanding of the fluctuating scenario, within which we find ourselves.
Janet Batsleer begins:
There has – in one thread of youth and community work – been a long-standing desire to link our practice in the most excluded and precaritised neighbourhoods with working-class social movements which also seek to turn back and away from sexism, racism and other oppressive forces (Batsleer, 2013). It is in this context – as such movements against neoliberalism are gathering strength again and being reframed – that I was invited in 2017 by two wonderful projects to act as a consultant to their work. The first is based with YouthLink Scotland and has involved an oral history of the links between youth work and the women’s movement in Scotland (www.scotswummin.org). The second is the publication by a Brussels NGO called Childcare Activists of a pamphlet called: Filles et autres minorises….des jeunes comme les autres? Vers un travail de jeunesse accessible a tou(s) (tes) which translated as ‘Girls and other minorities: youth like the others? Towards a youth work accessible to all?’ (www.activistchildcare.org). This study by Eleanor Miller and Mouhad Reghif, highlighted sexism, racism and intersectionality as key issues for street work, all of which have been captured in this pamphlet. In May 2017 I was invited to speak at a Conference for street workers and key figures in Francophone NGO’s from Belgium and France where the pamphlet was launched. What follows is a brief extract from my presentation.
Despite research which emphasises that the idea of ‘generations of worklessness’ is a myth, the general public, politicians and the mainstream media still suggest that generations and cultures of worklessness exist in contemporary Britain. Kevin Ralston and Vernon Gayle outline evidence that disputes this damaging myth.
The concepts of generations and cultures of worklessness have popular, political and international resonance. In politics, high profile figures, such as the UK Government Minister Chris Grayling, are on record as stating there are ‘four generations of families where no-one has ever had a job’ (in MacDonald et al, 2013). Esther McVey, when she was UK Minister for Employment, made reference to the widespread idea that there is a ‘something for nothing culture’ among some of those claiming benefits (DWP, 2013). The general notion, that there is a section of undeserving poor who should receive punishment or correction, is a central concept in neo-liberal politics (Wiggan, 2012; Soss et al, 2011; Wacquant, 2009; de Goede, 1996). Ideas associated with generations and cultures of worklessness also regularly appear in the traditional UK print media and the international press. For example, in 2013, the Daily Mail reported the story of an individual convicted of burning down his house, which resulted in deaths. They reported his status as a benefit claimant and described living on welfare benefits as a ‘lifestyle choice’ for some.
This article by Sean Murphy draws on interviews with youth workers to argue that youth citizenship and engagement would be better supported by sustained youth and community work, rather than through the National Citizen Service.
We are living in precarious times. Theresa May’s ‘snap election’ has catapulted the United Kingdom into a minority Conservative administration, and a far cry from the ‘strong and stable’ pre-election mantra. The nation is careering towards a Brexit with a limited mandate, its government, the economy and politics are in a state of flux. As Youniss et al. (2002) suggest, these changes can easily reshape concepts such as national identity, nationhood, and multiculturalism within a globalised world; and in such a moment, the meaning of citizenship can no longer be taken for granted. Moreover, the ‘snap election’ has led to the Conservative government devising a political deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) reportedly worth over £1.5billion additional public spending for Northern Ireland.
Thanks to Malcolm Ball for this insight into the process underpinning the election of the Young Mayor of Lewisham.
For further background, analysis and critique of the Young Mayor’s Project see – ‘Extending democracy to young people: is it time for youth suffrage?’ by
Kalbir Shukra in Youth&Policy 116
Another stimulating group of articles from our good friends at CONCEPT.