The Ten Minute Bill and a problematic PMQ?



I’m probably illustrating how out of touch I am, but I continue to disagree with the line taken by Lloyd in his question to Teresa May. Arguing for a Youth Service on the grounds that an alarming number of young people have felt suicidal or that knife and gang crime is rising does not offer, in my opinion, a convincing and sustainable basis for renewing universal, open access, informal education provision, which remains valuable in its own right, whilst being humble about its part in tackling social dilemmas rooted deeply in an alienating and exploitative society.

Ironically May’s weak response would have been rendered even weaker if Lloyd had at least mentioned the precarious future visited upon young people by the Tories’ policies.


Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown) (Lab/Co-op)

Q7. Last year, a quarter of young people thought about suicide, and one in nine attempted suicide. Young people are three times more likely to be lonely than older people. Knife crime is up, and gang crime is up. There are fewer opportunities for young people than ever before—68% of our youth services ​have been cut since 2010—with young people having nowhere to go, nothing to do and no one to speak to. Is it now time for a statutory youth service, and will the Prime Minister support my ten-minute rule Bill after Prime Minister’s questions? [905633]

The Prime Minister
I think “Nice try” is the answer to the hon. Gentleman, but he said that there were fewer opportunities for young people here in this country. May I just point out to him the considerable improvement there has been in the opportunities for young people to get into work and the way in which we have seen youth unemployment coming down?

Some more photos from Facebook of the great turnout at the Palace of Varieties, to borrow a phrase from Denis Skinner.




Sustenance for the Senses 3 – hope not anxiety, roadshows, education acts, grooming and serious violence

In the last fortnight, Youth Work or Youth Services have been in the limelight, as evidenced by Tuesday’s two posts featuring Seema Chandwani’s passionate twitter threads, one specifically aimed at Sadiq Khan’s Crime Summit. Once more the classic tension as to the relationship between the educative and preventative in youth work is revisited or as James Ballantyne puts it in the most recent of his always thoughtful blogs between a provision that is driven by hope rather than anxiety.

Following on from the announced commitment to a statutory Youth Service, the Labour Party seeks help to shape its education policy, declaring:

labour logoTogether, we can create an education system that works for the many, not the few, and your voice matters to us. That’s why we have launched the National Education Service Roadshow (NES) as part of our National Policy Consultation.

Over three months, the Roadshow will visit our nations and regions to meet with and speak to members and supporters who want to help shape the future of education policy.

The Roadshow will build on the work we have done so far and the final principles will underpin the NES for generations to come.

To get involved, you can attend a Roadshow event in person, or you can submit your thoughts online via the Labour Policy Forum.

The diary of Roadshow events has yet to be announced. What are your views on prioritising a contribution to this process?


An immediate opportunity is provided by ChooseYouth to discuss the situation further.



Mon 23 April 2018 16:00 – 18:00  at the Palace of Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA

Register for free at Statutory Youth Service

Following the successful parliamentary event earlier this year, we are pleased to announce a roundtable discussion on the importance of youth services and creation of a statutory youth service.

Youth services are an essential part of a lifelong learning and civil society and act as the bedrock to many young peoples lives. Over recent years we’ve seen youth service provision decline across the country with parts going completely without.

ChooseYouth which represents over 30 voluntary youth sector organisations has long championed a universal, open access statutory youth service and now in partnership with MP’s in parliament we plan to introduce a bill to create such a service.

This roundtable event in parliament will act as the beginning of that legislative process, bringing together key stakeholders to give their input, not only on the current state of youth services but how best we can advance the cause of a statutory service.

Putting this into a wider educational context Tim Brighouse argues, perhaps naively for new 2020 Education Act in a Guardian article, Rab Butler revolutionised education in 1944. Let’s do it again

‘In the last 100 years, there have been two defining education acts – Butler’s in 1944 and Baker’s in 1988. They represent two distinct chapters in England’s educational story. The first witnessed new schools, colleges and curriculum innovation, especially in the arts, as well as new youth and career services. Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberalism underpinned Baker’s 1988 reform bill, which meant a prescribed national curriculum and tougher accountability, along with diversity in school provision and autonomy’.

The piece prompted the following response from Tom Wylie, a former Chief Executive of the National Youth Agency.

‘Tim Brighouse makes a compelling case for a new settlement for education in England. Two particular further features should be addressed. First, it should be based on evidence, not politicians’ whims and prejudices. Second, it should reflect the fact that adolescents spend much of their time outside the classroom, and thus urgent attention needs to be paid to rebuilding the role of educational youth work for their leisure time.’

    Thanks to the Rotherham Advertiser

More specifically and highlighting the need for a practice, which can build relationships over time, free from short-term targets as well as posing issues around youth work and casework, Naomi Thompson, drawing on her own experience, argues that ‘Slashing youth worker budgets close a key route out for groomed girls.’


        Ta to the

Continuing the Government’s fondness for short-term public relation interventions Home Secretary Amber Rudd has launched a Serious Violence strategy, which includes a new £11m Early Intervention Youth Fund to support community projects that help steer young people away from crime.

According to CYPN, without a hint of embarrassment, given the Tory onslaught on youth services in recent years and on young people’s futures, Rudd argues“we need to engage with our young people early and to provide the incentives and credible alternatives that will prevent them from being drawn into crime in the first place. This in my view is the best long-term solution”.




ChooseYouth AGM and Re-launch Meeting September 2017

Important alert from Kerry Jenkins. IDYW will be sending a couple of representatives.

choose youth logo

Dear friends,

It has been over a year since we came together at the event ‘Youth Work and Youth Services: Our Shared Future’ and much has happened over this past twelve months.

A government with no real mandate continues to oversee the destruction of youth services up and down the UK and more than ever we need our collective strength to discuss strategies to combat this.

We have been given some hope with the Labour Party revitalised under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and willing and eager to discuss youth policy.

Our next meeting will be held on the 4TH September at 11 am in room 11, north wing entrance (marked A on the map attached) at the Guildhall, London.

It is important that you all send a representative to this meeting if possible as we need to refocus our campaign and get on with the very important job at hand.

If you can let me know the names of people representing your organisation who will be attending by the 28th August this will assist with the internal booking system.

We will also be electing to the positions of Chair and Secretary and I will be happy to receive expressions of interest for either of these positions in advance of the meeting.

Please also forward this message on to other sector contacts who may be interested in joining us.


Kerry Jenkins
Secretary ChooseYouth

Guildhall map

Two Fingers to Youth Service as NCS put on Statutory Footing

Even as late as a year ago with ChooseYouth in the lead pressure was being put on Labour to hold to its pledge to make the Youth Service statutory. The party reneged. It was hardly a surprise. For many it seemed to be the last throw of the dice in a decades long battle with successive governments around Youth Service, Youth Work and its status. Some compared this struggle to the search for the Holy Grail. Indeed with the election of the Tories the drive to undermine the last vestiges of open access, year round youth work  continued, forcing almost everyone to reconsider where we are up to and what might be the next step.

NCS logo

And now to add insult to injury the following is announced in today’s Queen’s Speech  (page 40).

National Citizen Service Bill

“National Citizen Service will be placed on a permanent statutory footing.”
The purpose of the Bill is to:
 To support the manifesto commitment to expand National Citizen Service by
encouraging thousands more young people to take advantage of the skillsbuilding
programmes offered (p.45).
 Put the National Citizen Service (NCS) on a statutory footing.
 Strengthen links between young people and schools, local governments and
central governments to promote participation in the programme.
The main benefits of the Bill would be:
 Using schools to reach every eligible young person and their parents to raise
awareness of NCS and give every young person the chance to participate.
 Using local authorities to inform young people and parents about NCS,
particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
 Using government’s existing contact points with young people and parents to
promote the programme and support other government policy through doing
 Providing the right level of accountability for the NCS delivery body and
improving the administrative and funding arrangements between government
and the body.
The main elements of the Bill are:
● Creating a new statutory framework to deliver the NCS.
● Putting a duty on all secondary schools, including academies, sixth-form
colleges and independent schools to promote the NCS to young people and
their parents.
● Putting a duty on local authorities to promote the NCS to young people and
their parents.
● Putting a duty on relevant Secretaries of State to report annually on how they
have promoted the NCS to eligible young people and parents.

Devolution: We are in discussions with the devolved administrations about extending the Bill to their jurisdictions by legislative consent motion. Key facts:  Since NCS began, over 200,000 young people have taken part in this life changing opportunity. NCS is the fastest growing youth movement in this country for a century with a 46% increase in the number of participants between 2013 and 2014.  7 in 10 participants felt more confident about getting a job as a result of NCS in 2014. NCS is now recognised by UCAS.  21% of NCS participants were eligible for free school meals, compared with around 8% of young people of the same age in the general population and 27% from non-white backgrounds compared to 19% of the general population.

As you know we are lectured constantly about our failure to make the case for youth work, our failure to be robust and rigorous, our failure to measure what we do. Hence many have seen no option, but to embrace the ideologically led outcomes and impact agenda. If you want evidence that the claim to be robust and rigorous and evidence-based,  is all smoke and mirrors, read the  NCS evaluations, which support this bill.  Evidently there is to be 1.2 billion pounds of investment in  Cameron’s pet project. Enough for now………forget the alcohol-free resolution… I need a drink.

After the conferences : Bernard Davies reflects

In the aftermath of a series of youth work conferences and events concerned with the future, Bernard Davies offers these immediate reflections.


Some personal reflections on the struggle for a future for youth work

Three events in a month run by organisations with mandates as different as the Training Agencies Group (TAG), ChooseYouth and the Institute for Youth Work (IYW). Attended in total by around 240 people ranging from very experienced practitioners working on the front line and youth work students struggling with non-youth work placements to the Chief Executive of UK Youth and university heads of departments. And all dedicated to reflecting on the question: what future for youth work and the Youth Service? Out of the contradictions, the confusions and – yes – the conflicts, what clarifications, lessons and thoughts for possible action has all that left me with?

The diversity of the attendance was both a positive and a challenge. Given that neither ChooseYouth nor the unions that have done so much to sustain it or indeed IYW, were on the invitation list for last December’s sector collaboration conference part-sponsored by UK Youth, the up-front contributions to the ChooseYouth event of two senior UK Youth staff members certainly felt like a important step forward in alliance building.

On the other hand, the range of attendees’ roles and work settings also brought to the surface some significantly contrasting, if often taken-for-granted, perspectives on what the practice requires. For me this was captured in one discussion which produced both vivid descriptions by workers in open access settings of their struggles to negotiate managers’ demands for ‘measured outcomes’ and the apparently wholly unproblematic request from another practitioner working in a targeted programme for guidance on how, as straightforwardly as possible, to record the personal details of the young people they were working on their computer.

Nor was this the only issue to emerge where consensus seemed elusive. Many – especially, it seemed, experienced qualified workers who have for years run up against the disdain of other professions – remain keen on some form of nationally recognised ‘protection of title’/‘licence to practice’ or even a formal registration process. For others howevernot least voluntary workers – this clearly smacked of exclusiveness and even of threatening to define what they were doing as lower status.

And then, and most fundamentally, was the question: so what now do we mean by ‘youth work’? Given what has happened to the sector over the past six years, it is hardly surprising that the notion that any ‘work with young people is youth work, especially if it can make some claims to being ‘informal’, has bitten deep into the consciousness of the workforce – practitioners as well as policy-makers and managers. For such committed workers, in whatever settings they now find themselves, there seems to be no alternative but to see their use of their ‘transferable youth work skills’ as confirmation of deeply embedded personal as well as occupational identities?

So where does all that leave a ‘defence of youth work’? On the premise that we

– the sector – will be stronger together than apart, my own very personal starting point has to be to try and identify some core issues around which pluralist responses might rally. Out of my reflection on these three recent events – and recognising that as immediate ‘successes’ are now very unlikely, mid- long-term perspectives are needed – might collaboration with, for example, ChooseYouth, with TAG, IYW and the Centre for Youth Impact perhaps focus on:

  • Continuing to make the case for local all-year youth work provision which young people choose to use – arguing that case on the evidence going back decades that those facilities are likely to be attended regularly and/or sampled by anything up to a million 13-19 year olds, and that – contradicting the presumed constraints of ‘austerity’many could be funded out of the £89M currently spent on the 58,000 16-19 year olds enrolling in the NCS.
  • Supporting university courses which, as part of their efforts to maintain recruitment, are reaching out to FE students – particularly those on access courses; and also getting the word out in more systematic ways that, even in the current tough graduate employment market, their students are getting jobs.
  • Highlighting the appropriateness for youth work of qualitative forms of evaluation focused on the ‘how’ of the practice (on its process and methods) and not just, as so often now, on its impacts including perhaps by seeking funds for a collaborative piece of research into how the kinds of youth work story-telling which IDYW has been developing could contribute to this.

Not much to go on, perhaps – but maybe something to help concentrate our debates on what, beyond the rhetoric often running through these three conferences, collaboration’ and ‘alliance-building’ might actually look like on the ground.

Bernard Davies

April 2016

Youth Work and Youth Services: Our Shared Future: Doug Nicholls ponders

Ahead of next week’s ChooseYouth event, Our Shared Future, on Wednesday, April 13 in London Doug Nicholls offers these challenging thoughts on the present and future, arguing for a radical change in our thinking and direction –

Youth Work and Youth Services: Our Shared Future

Students 4


Some thoughts for our discussion from Doug Nicholls, Chair ChooseYouth

Young people are brilliant. Youth work is brilliant.

Step Forward

The creation of youth services represented a great step forward in the provision of lifelong learning and advanced ways of involving people in collective action and democratic engagement. They help assert fundamental rights and life chances and gave inspiration and joy to millions.

Skilled workers take the side of those they work with. Youth workers are unique advocates of young people’s concerns and they seek to amplify their voice with no prescribed agenda or curriculum. They challenge, nurture and encourage. They enable communities of interest, or neighbourhoods to grow and prosper and fight for social justice.

Our work is political in the sense that it encourages, communal and mutual values, exposes hypocrisy, stereotyping and exploitation and understands that collective solidarity is better than individual suffering. It is political in that it seeks to create and develop positive social relationships. It is truly a process of personal and social education delivered in a popular, participative way.

Democratic work

Our work has been part of the long democratic process of strengthening the voice of the people and empowering them to challenge injustice and develop their knowledge of themselves and their world. It fosters self-confidence and ability and to remove discrimination and oppression.

It gives support, comfort, safety, advice, friendship and help to young people when they need it when other services do not and are not designed to do so.

Because of the struggle of past generations of youth workers the social democratic state was compelled to fund our work. It was never statutory outside Ireland, but it was funded and professionally regarded and publicly inspected through Ofsted.

This led to an infrastructure of services provided by every local authority area linked to voluntary sector providers. Our predecessors fought to end the post code lottery for young people and communities. The idea was that in every area there would be a youth and community service with a senior officer with a budget, a training officer, qualified and experienced full time staff working with part time and volunteer colleagues in well-resourced buildings and in service training and outreach and detached projects.


Youth workers never achieved protection of title and the status of our profession suffered as a result. Student youth workers never received the same level of funding support as teachers and social workers. Despite this the excellence of practice in training and in the field was high.

For the state to fund a form of educational intervention that was entirely based on a voluntary relationship with young people and community groups was a massive achievement and was led over the years by trade unionised workers and voluntary sector organisations and thousands of deeply committed people.

These days have gone.


Undemocratic work

The neoliberal political economy through its dismantling of the previous architecture of social democracy, has sought to privatise and destroy whole sections of what existed before.

Youth work was a conscious target just as the condition of youth and the chances for young people were radically changed. This is the first generation of young people in Britain to have fewer opportunities than those who went before.

Youth services based in local authorities no longer exist in any meaningful way. The resourcing and infrastructure needed for our work has been removed. The final stage in the attack is the attempt to abandon JNC and so remove the particular approach to informal education that it safeguards.

As the money and structures have gone so there has been a move away from forms of youth which seek to emancipate and empower. Outcomes driven, quasi social work ways of working to ‘fix’ the ever increasing number of ‘problems’ that poverty and unemployment and lack of opportunities are forcing on our young people are being developed. New issues like paralysing mental health questions plague young people in every greater degrees and more not less support is needed.

The Youth Service represented a time when society believed that the transition to adulthood was a social thing deserving support through family and public structures, services and culture.

Supported transitions provided the personal and social education that enabled young people to explore ideas, identities, and behaviours. The purpose was the enjoyment of the transition itself, the fun and perplexity of opening new horizons with trusted adults and discovering new life chances. In such a process prejudices that divide and harm common human objectives are challenged.

Social outcomes in an anti-social society.

The outcome of youth work is the happier, more emancipated, more educated, more conscious young person. Youth work outcomes at their best are linked exclusively to the needs of young people. Sometimes the smile on the face of a previously withdrawn and maybe self-harming young person, lacking in self-esteem or clear identity, is the most tangible outcome and inspiring product of months’ of skilful youth work intervention. Youth workers draw out the best in young people.

Youth work’s voluntary engagement with young people was pinnacle of social democratic educational sophistication. Employing professionals to ‘talk’ to young people, befriend them and take their side in communal experiences was a very healthy social development. It expressed social commitments, a communal sense of welfare, a valuing of the young and a way of advancing their interests at a very sophisticated level. Informal education is therefore an advanced, learned skill and set of practices. It was established by practitioners and trade unionists in a long tradition of social learning.

Continue reading

ChooseYouth and Institute of Youth Work April Events


Whilst we have announced the postponement of our national conference at the beginning of April there’s still plenty going on, with which we’re involved. For example Bernard Davies is the keynote speaker at the Institute for Youth Work conference – see below.


choose youth logo

On Wednesday, April 13 ChooseYouth is organising a forum, ‘Youth Work and Youth Services: Our Shared Future’ at the UNITE offices in London.

The fledgling youth service was nearly abandoned by funders in the late nineteen fifties and all those concerned banded together and not only rescued it, but they created the modern youth service with public funding, national collective bargaining through JNC a respected professional qualification and training and support structures for part time worker and volunteers.

Unfortunately, as we all know, this once world leading infrastructure and set of professional practices within personal and social education has not just been cut, it has been so severely affected since 2010 that all providers are struggling and the essential education and support that youth work offers is being destroyed. This adds immeasurably to the pressures young people face at a time when they need youth workers more than ever.

The unity of purpose evident amongst all those who built the service two generations ago is much needed again and we reflect also that at times of danger to the service in the eighties and nineties it was only alliances of the main organisations concerned about young people that pulled us through.

Since 2010 ChooseYouth has successfully flown the flag as a broad alliance. At our January meeting there was a strong feeling that we need to create a new opportunity for every concerned organisation to get together and see what more can be done to secure a future for youth work and youth services.

We therefore invite all interested parties to an open forum to discuss what more can be done together to protect and enhance essential services for young people through youth work.

Full details and registration at Our Shared Future



On Saturday, April 16 the Institute for Youth Work, together with the London Metropolitan University, is organising a conference, ‘In the Service of Youth’.

Adam Muirhead, Chair of the Institute for Youth Work


Áine Woods, Senior lecturer/Course Leader Youth Work, London Metropolitan University

Would like to invite you to our joint conference this year, entitled ‘In the Service of Youth’ on Saturday 16th April 2016, hosted at London Metropolitan University
This national conference aims to bring together youth work practitioners, policy makers and commentators to discuss contemporary issues for the youth sector and develop actions for the Institute of Youth Work (IYW) to lead on over the next year.

We would love to see as many of our members attend, to meet the team, hear about developments and engage in shaping the future of the IYW.

London Metropolitan University hope to promote a collaborative discussion relating to the current position of the services on offer to young people. London Met are keen to provide a platform to showcase initiatives and examples of good practice across a range of services for young people.

Key discussions will include: promoting anti-oppressive practices nationwide; LGBTQ youth work; tackling racism; exploring the pressures that young people engaging in gang culture face, as well as new funding initiatives.

Projects, clubs and individual practitioners are welcome to display their work at our best-practice marketplace.

Those considering a career in youth work will have the opportunity to meet current students and practitioners.

Let’s keep our services for young people alive, celebrating work with young people.

There is a small charge for the event

Further details and registration at In the Service of Youth