A Collective Chance to be Self-Critical – see you in Brum on the 30th





FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 from 11.15 – 4.30


Back in April we postponed our national conference as a number of other broad initiatives were on the go. We said at the time we hoped our rearranged conference would keep the debate about the future alive and ongoing. Our themes, ‘Blurring the Boundaries?’ and ‘Re-Imagining Youth Work?’ raise questions for In Defence of Youth Work. and the youth sector as a whole.



11.15 Where is IDYW up to? What is its role?

11.30 Challenging IDYW’s perspective, ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’ – Annette Coburn [University of West Scotland] and Sinead Gormally [University of Hull] with a response from Tania de St Croix [IDYW] followed by open discussion.

12.40 Paul Fenton will share the major themes arising from the Shaping the Future events held by the Professional Association of Lecturers in YCW followed by open discussion.

1.30 Lunch – bring your own snap as per tradition or there are local shops.

2.15 Where are people working? How is youth work surviving? Kirsty Lowrie  [Aspire Arts] and Malcolm Ball [IDYW] will lead off a dialogue in small groups about the state of play on the ground.

3.45 Where do we go from here? Dependent on how the day unfolds we will have a Q&A panel session or break into local/regional groups.

Tea, coffee etc will be available.

Conference fee is a minimum of £10 waged, £5 students/unwaged.

To book a place contact Rachel@yasy.co.uk

Please circulate the flyers

idywsept30 – Word flyer

idywsept30 – pdf flyer

IDYW 7th National Conference, September 30 in Birmingham




FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 from 11.00 – 4.30


Back in April we postponed our national conference as a number of other broad initiatives were on the go, notably UK Youth with its concept of the Social Journey, the Training Agencies Group ‘shaping the future of youth work’ and ChooseYouth. We said at the time we hoped our rearranged conference would keep the debate about the future alive and ongoing. In this spirit we are holding our event on Friday, September 30 in Birmingham. Our themes, ‘Blurring the Boundaries?’ and ‘Re-Imagining Youth Work?’ raise questions for In Defence of Youth Work. and the youth sector as a whole.


In the morning session Annette Coburn and Sinead Gormally will challenge our emphasis on the voluntary relationship as a cornerstone of youth work’s distinctiveness, suggesting that IDYW’s position is an obstacle to ’thinking the unthinkable’, to the potential of reinventing youth work across professional boundaries. This challenging critique will be followed, after group discussion, by a report by Paul Fenton of the Training Agencies Group on the major themes arising from its series of conferences on ‘Shaping the Future’, particularly the impact of the changing landscape on the character of professional training.


In the afternoon we will seek to draw on your sense of what is happening on the ground. What sort of youth work are you involved in? What is your perspective on the future? This debate will be catalysed by a couple of inputs from projects such as Aspire Arts, which are charting different ways of keeping youth work alive. We wonder whether this sharing of your experience and your differing work situations might be the first step in mapping the diversity of provision brought about by the dramatic change in the economy of youth work.


In a final panel session involving amongst others, the Institute of Youth Work, ChooseYouth and UK Youth, we will grapple with the dilemmas of how we can cooperate rather than compete and how we can retain our integrity within a political climate, which favours conformity and compliance and funds accordingly.?


Further details to follow – confirming programme, speakers etc…


As for lunch, please bring your own as is our tradition.


Conference fee is a minimum of £10 waged, £5 students/unwaged.


To book a place contact Rachel@yasy.co.uk


Please circulate the PDF flyer – Conference2016Flyer1

BOUNDARIES : Call for Papers and Presentations


Ta to generalassemb.ly

Call for Papers/Presentations of 15 minutes;
Workshop suggestions;
Posters/Visual Presentations

Interrogating the boundaries of childhood studies and youth studies: Themes, debates and controversies in research and practice
9 March 2016
10.30am –5.00pm
University of Huddersfield

This seminar offers a platform for early career and established researchers and practitioners to discuss the nature and relevance of the boundaries between childhood studies and youth studies. The event will feature a panel debate on key issues and priorities driving developments in these areas of work, exploring their intersections, complementarities and tensions.

Alongside the debate there will be round table presentations and multimedia contributions invited through this open call. Subjects for discussion could include:
•At what points are babies children, children young people, and young people adults
•Stereotypical presentations of toddlers, tweenies and teens
•Measurement and goals in childhood and youth
•Policy and frameworks for enquiry
•Pedagogies in work with children and young people
•Participation and the voice of children and young people

Papers/Presentations of 15 minutes; Workshop suggestions; Posters/Visual Presentations are invited on the above or other related topics by February 1st2016. Please email abstracts to Janet Batsleer J.Batsleer@mmu.ac.uk and James Reid J.Reid@hud.ac.uk.

Book your place at the event online below:
British Educational Research Association, 9-11 Endsleigh Gardens, London, WC1H OEH; Charity No. 1150237; Phone: 020 7331 5217; Email: events@bera.ac.uk


Blurring the Boundaries : Youth Workers as Soft Police or Vice-Versa?

This post was drafted a few weeks ago following the appearance of this piece in CYPN,

NYA says youth work training for police officers should be ‘more systemic’

I thought it was perhaps past its sell-by date, but discussions this week at a Steering Group around the proposed Institute of Youth Work focused on the slide to describing all manner of work with young people as youth work. In this context the following might have some resonance. And to say we have been asked to respond to NYA through the Education and Standards Training Committee as to our perspective on the notion of the Institute – more news to follow.



Rotherham Council has announced that two police constables have qualified with the council to become youth workers.

The officers will work in partnership with the council’s youth services department and in youth centres throughout the area.

The blurring of boundaries about what is meant by youth work and what constitutes a youth worker continues to worm its insidious way. When and where are our two constables youth workers? When and where are they coppers? Can they be both youth worker and copper at one and the same time? Funnily enough, despite the nowadays obligatory claim that the Rotherham initiative is trail-blazing, versions of these questions about the relationship between young people, youth work and policing are not new.

When I first came into the work in the early 1970’s the appropriate local bobby sat on the management committees for two of the centres, for which I became responsible. The post-war consensus that we were in it together was just about holding. By the end of the decade as unemployment rose and youth harassment became the norm we wouldn’t let the police across the threshold of our centres. In the mid-80’s my office was in the old primary school of Shirebrook, a Derbyshire mining village, violently invaded and occupied by Her Majesty’s constabulary, playing its crucial part in intimidating opposition to the rule of the market. In the aftermath young people and the community rejected involvement in the local Police Liaison Committees.  As struggle died down I found myself in the 90’s working with the Inspector of Community Affairs in Wigan around the spectre of  youth troubled ‘hot-spots’. We created a Youth Mediation project, employing a team of youth mediators, explicitly neither youth workers nor police, who refereed between young people, the local community and the local State. There was agreement. The roles of youth workers and police ought not to be confused. Youth workers ought to be on young people’s side. The police represented law and order, even when this law and order was demonstrably unjust. And, as an aside, I was a tutor on a year long part-time youth worker training course in 1978 with two constables as students. Their desire to be part-time youth workers was ridden with contradiction, but was not further confused by wanting to be hybrid Youth Police workers.

However, as you might know by now,  today’s Chief Executives suggest that these qualms are but the dilemmas of a past best forgotten.  Rolling out a ‘systemic’ programme of youth work training for police officers across the country is  simply a good thing. Time has moved on. All that stands between young people and a trust in the police is the emergence of a couple of  empathetic coppers. Forget Stop and Search, it’s now Stop and Smile. And their sensitivity will trickle down through the pores of the Police’s collective authoritarian psyche, even reaching its Metropolitan heart. Except that in the last few years some things don’t seem to have changed that much. Young people protesting against the end of EMA and the hike in tuition fees were kettled, frightened into feeling that resistance is career-ending. Whilst, by anyone’s account, last year’s riots were partially a consequence of the systematic hostility towards young people, especially black youth, displayed by these very forces of law and order.

None of this is to dismiss the important question of how the police interact with society, but this raises issues around race, gender, class, sexuality, disability as well as age. If we believe the police can be sensitised to the significance of these social and political divisions, the implication is that the whole workforce, not some scattering of token individuals, has to be on board. If we take race as an exemplar it is clear that this is an enormous task. The Metropolitan Police started race relations training in 1964. In 1984 following the Scarman investigation into the 1981 uprisings a revamped Community and Race Relations programme was put in place. Nevertheless the 1999 Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence declared that the Met was institutionally racist. Over a decade later the 2012 riots following yet another black death in custody signalled at the very least that awareness  training has its limitations.

None of which is to suggest we fold our arms and do nothing. It is though to suggest we proceed with caution and humility. On the contrary we are told by the NYA in a moment of some pretension that, as well as police officers, teachers and nurses could do with an injection of youth work skills. What might be these mysterious skills unbeknown to others?  “They [need to] understand some of the nature of adolescence, how to create a relationship with young people and the tensions of being an adolescent in 2012.” A deep breath is needed here. Of these three areas only one is about skills, namely creating relationships. The other two relating to how we understand adolescence are about theoretical explanations, be they psychological or sociological. None of these – Communication Skills, Developmental Psychology or the Sociology of Youth – are the property of youth work. In one form or another they are taught, for better or worse, across the people professions.

So, what’s going on here? Stemming perhaps from a certain collective inferiority complex,  this exaggerated desire to be indispensable to others  is a result of abandoning the very basis of our distinctiveness. If we have been, still are special, it is not do with some fantasy about our unique values, skills or methodologies. It is to do with meeting young people without the security blanket of compulsion or sanction. It is to do with meeting young people in a mutual exploration of what on earth is going on. This creative dialogue knows no pre-determined outcomes, carries no guarantees. It is this authentic uncertainty that distinguishes youth work from other forms of work with young people, which demand the pursuit of prescribed and imposed targets.  For the moment many within the youth ‘sector’ seem intent on brushing this crucial distinction deep under a carpet of conformism.  Evidently in their eyes any engagement with young people is open to being called youth work – even an encounter on the streets between a  young person and the police, provided the latter have done their youth work training!