The Future of In Defence of Youth Work – steering group discussion, June 15

 

As most readers/supporters will recognise IDYW is very much a voluntary venture.  It relies on a few souls to maintain its organisational presence on the youth work scene. Without wanting to exaggerate my significance I have reached a moment when for personal reasons, I need to withdraw from my role as the IDYW coordinator. With this in mind, the IDYW steering group is meeting on Friday, June 15 in Manchester to explore the consequences of my decision, which has not been taken lightly.

For information, you will find below my report circulated to the steering group, which will be used to open the discussion. Obviously, we will report back to you on the outcome of our musings.

My experience of being the IDYW Coordinator

In the end, I’ve failed to quantify the privilege/burden of being the IDYW Coordinator across almost a decade. In addition, a couple of previous efforts to provide something useful for our discussion in Manchester on June 15 have foundered on my indulgent guilt about letting the side down by withdrawing from the role.

Before dealing with the three main areas – the website, social media and administration – it’s important to say something about the issues of time, capacity and energy, which govern how much any person[s] can give to the role. To offer but two examples from my experience.

  • Given I no longer sell my labour I have finished up in a position, whereby almost the first thing I do every day involves IDYW – switching on the computer, going to Gmail, Facebook, checking links etc.
  • I read rapidly, voraciously and, some might say, superficially. I write laboriously and, some might say, pretentiously, giving more weight to my words than they deserve, all the while typing with one finger!

Someone else might well be much more organised, efficient and innovative, provided circumstances allow.

The IDYW website

According to the statistics, in 2017 there were 24,000 visits and 48,928 views. Significantly many visitors found their way via search engines, where IDYW is prominent, because of the level of its activity. Facebook and Twitter are also prominent in guiding people to the site. Whilst the UK boasts the most views at roughly 75%, almost 20% emanate from the USA, Australia, Ireland, Canada and Belgium.

I think this data indicates the importance of posting regularly and interestingly to the website. Hence I have seen this as a priority, but, with the above caveats in mind, this is time-consuming.

The website has never generated ongoing debate through its Comments facility.

The Social Media [Facebook and Twitter]

As of May 27, the IDYW FB page has 3,677 members. Over the years it has grown to be, I believe, the most active and wide-ranging UK youth work discussion forum. Thus I feel obliged to enter its portals more or less every day – checking for new member requests, moderating [very rarely] posts, cross-referencing with the website, picking upon links posted by members and intervening myself in discussion threads.

This last point poses a contradiction. The FB page represents our best opportunity for a continuing dialogue with our readers/supporters, yet I have chastised the Steering Group [SG] with honourable exceptions for failing to grasp this opening. However, I suspect, the FB page would survive a lack of intervention from ourselves as it has morphed increasingly into being the place to go for advice on practice, to advertise projects and jobs etc. Our dilemma is that this pluralist shift risks the forum losing its grounding in the IDYW cornerstones, especially if the website was reduced in importance.

As a matter, of course, I link all website posts to Twitter, which, as we have seen, does generate traffic, but I only visit there a couple of times a week.

General Administration

This area of responsibility has fluctuated over the years and at the meeting we should visit our attempted division of labour to see how successful it has been. Without going into detail it has confirmed my sense that we need a named person, who retains an overview of what’s going on. In the past, I think my efforts to summarise where we’ve seemed up to ahead of SG meetings have been valuable.

As things stand I’m still the first port of call via email for anyone wanting to get in touch with IDYW. To repeat this very ordinary demand leads to the daily pressure to think about IDYW.

More broadly my identification as the IDYW coordinator has led to invitations to contribute in that role at national and International gatherings, for example, the forthcoming Transformative Youth Work conference in Plymouth. So too it has meant that I’ve scribbled with this head on, both individually and collaboratively over recent years, for example, the chapter, ‘The Impact of Neoliberalism upon the Character and Purpose of English Youth Work and Beyond’, written with Paula Connaughton, Tania de St Croix, Bernard Davies and Pauline Grace, to appear shortly in the Sage Handbook of Youth Work Practice.

For the moment I’ll circulate these thoughts as a first provisional assay into our debate. I would welcome questions, criticisms.

Tony Taylor

Organising IDYW Activity in 2017

Minutes of meetings are hardly anybody’s idea of a riveting read. However, we’d be grateful if you could give the following notes of our last Steering Group meeting a quick glance. And to say that anyone interested in giving some time to our endeavours is encouraged to get in touch. We are in no sense a closed group – the more voices, the better.

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Present: Malcolm Ball, Bernard Davies, John Grace, Pauline Grace, Naomi Thompson, Tony Taylor and, via SKYPE with differing levels of success, Colin Brent, Paula Connaughton and Tania de St Croix.

Apologies: ;Susan Atkins, Paul Hogan, Kevin Jones, Diane Law

The primary purpose of the meeting was to explore and agree on a fresh way of organising the work of IDYW. taking into account the publicised shift to being first and foremost a forum catalysing critical discussion and the need to move beyond there being a single, leading IDYW Coordinator. In seeking to do so and in the light of recent discussions about blurring the boundaries of what constitutes youth work the Steering Group confirmed its commitment to defending the distinctiveness of youth work as expressed in the IDYW cornerstones of practice.

After much discussion the following was agreed:

TASKS and Lead Person[s]

Maintaining website/blog, Facebook and Twitter plus encouraging participation etc. – Tony Taylor
Developing European links and relationships – Malcolm Ball, Colin Brent, Pauline Grace
Coordinating Story-Telling Workshops – Bernard Davies
Maintaining Story-Telling website and resource – Colin Brent
Admin support for seminars/conferences/events – Rachel via Youth Association South Yorkshire [YASY]
IDYW Accounts – Heather via YASY
Monitoring possible Research opportunities – Naomi Thompson
Annual Conference arrangements – Malcolm Ball
Encouraging regional and local IDYW networks/meetings – Colin Brent
Encouraging national and regional IDYW seminars – Tania de St Croix
Monitoring possible contributions to external conferences/events/publications – Tony Taylor
Linking/relating to National Youth Agency/Education,Training Standards Committee – Sue Atkins
Linking/relating to Institute of Youth Work – Pauline Grace
Linking/relating to ChooseYouth – Malcolm Ball
Linking/relating to Centre for Youth Impact – Tania de St Croix
Linking/relating to Training Agencies Group and Youth & Policy – Paula Connaughton
Acting as secretary to SG meetings – to be rotated

 

Further bits and pieces of interest:

 

Pauline informed us of a conference in Lithuania to launch the Academic Journal of Open Youth Work. In the event a workshop on neoliberalism’s impact on English youth work was run by Tony Taylor, Pauline Grace and Malcolm Ball. A further post will offer further details, including a link to the on-line journal.
On the Story-Telling front we ran a workshop in Carlow on December 9 with work underway to organise possible events in Cardiff, Huddersfield and Manchester. Look out for the workshop flyer.
As you can see above, we agreed to change the logo to freshen up our image eight years on from our birth. Many thanks to Peter Griffiths at http://www.peter-griffiths.com/ for the design.
In terms of the 2018 national conference we agreed to check if Y&P is holding its History conference next year and if so, to hold our conference in tandem. In past years the event in Leeds has attracted a positive mix of students and workers with a sprinkling of academics. More immediately the 2017 national conference is to be held on Friday, March 17, almost certainly in Birmingham. More info in the next few days.

 

Date of next meeting: February 10

 

In Defence on the Road in early February – steering group and seminars

EVENTS AND CONFERENCES – IDYW BUSINESS

Fusco 1

Next week sees the steering group meeting face-to-face rather than by Skype, for which we are all mighty grateful. We’ll post a full report on proceedings as soon as possible. In addition we are running the two Youth Work and Politics seminars in London on February 5 and Manchester on February 7 – see below for the final info. Still places available so no problem about you making a late decision to attend.

Politics and Youth Work – programme and directions

 

Sharing the Load : Spreading The Word : Starting on Time : Bringing Butties!

 

As we look forward to next week’s IDYW conference on March 8th in Leeds a mix of fundamental and practical issues emerge.

1. At each annual conference we welcome nominations for the steering group, which tries its best to keep the IDYW show on the road. This year the members have been Sue Atkins, Malcolm Ball, Andy Brown,Tania de St Croix, Bernard Davies, Pauline Grace, Susanna Hunter-Darch, Diane Law, Anne Marron, Don MacDonald with Tony Taylor as Co-ordinator. As far as commitment goes this is very much a matter of negotiation. Whilst we hold a SKYPE meeting each month to keep abreast of affairs, not everyone is able to fit these into busy diaries. However members of the group tend to take responsibility for particular aspects of the Campaign’s work. For example this year Bernard, Susanna and Tania have led on the workshops programme, Sue, Malcolm and Anne on the Choose Youth/Institute of Youth Work front, whilst Pauline has developed our European links. In recent months Don and Anne have prioritised the SOS campaign in Newcastle with Diane heading up the conference organisation.

In this context we hope you might consider putting yourself forward or persuading someone else to be part of the 2013/14 steering group. If you can’t get to conference, indicate your interest by mailing Tony on tonymtaylor@gmail.com before Thursday, March 7th. Nominations will be accepted at the conference itself before lunch.

2. During the year we have been very conscious of the relatively weak links between the steering group and the Campaign’s supporters. Although it must be stressed that across a range of seminars and book workshops we have been in intimate and critical contact with almost 300 people. Nevertheless we want to facilitate a discussion in the coming months, which looks at democratising our Campaign, including the possibility of a simple constitution. During this process we intend to use the internet device, Surveymonkey, to test out what you are thinking and feeling.

3. Much more immediately on Friday we are going to defy the long-standing cultural antipathy in youth work circles to punctuality! In short we are going to kick off on time at 11.00 a.m. So please make every effort to be as early as you can manage, especially as we will taking money on the door etc. Drinks will be available. Continuing the chase against the clock can you also make sure you do bring your own lunch. As it happens there isn’t a nearby sandwich shop, but we are confident that on your travels you will pass many such outlets! End of sermon!

Further info on the conference – March 2013 Burley Lodge

Places still available. Indeed if you turn up on the day, we won’t turn you away!