Knowledge Bar with a social purpose in Manchester, January 18

4ndstreet_logo

Our friends at 42nd Street – the project now 36 years old – illustrate their continuing creativity and commitment to their roots. True to their philosophy amidst the gloom and stress, giving folk in Manchester something to smile about.

knowledge bar at horsfall_preview

Manchester-based mental health charity 42nd Street is inviting the public to their Knowledge Bar; a social evening with purpose, Thursday 18th January 6.30 -9pm at The Horsfall, 87 Great Ancoats Street, M4 5AG.

Each month Knowledge Bar aims to improve Manchester’s wellbeing with healthy food and drink tastings, creative workshops and talks by professionals with insight into how to live a more balanced life.

The event is held at 42nd Street’s creative venue The Horsfall, opened just a year ago with the aim of improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing through creative activity.

The idea for this public event came from research which uncovered stories of 18th Century Salons held in Ancoats and which gave people an opportunity to socialise and share ideas and knowledge.

42nd Street has taken inspiration for the project from the Ancoats Art Museum; a unique social and artistic experiment established in Ancoats, Manchester at the end of the 19th Century. Its founder, Thomas C Horsfall sought to promote wellbeing and social change through contact with art and nature. Horsfall filled the museum with artworks, sculptures, music recitals, public lectures and even live birds in a bid to make the lives of those living in the surrounding slums more bearable. The Horsfall project will draw on this rich, but little-known story and make it relevant and useful to young people across the city today. {Extract from earlier publicity}

This month you can learn to roll your own sushi with Sahabat Boat Café, pick up tips for turning chaos into calm with The Clutter Fairy and upcycle what otherwise might be thrown away with Taylor Made with Love.

The event is free.

Young people are not fair game, Mr Osborne – Bernard Davies chips in

Ta to buzzfeed.com

Ta to buzzfeed.com

Continuing Friday’s theme, Young People on the receiving end yet again of political and economic dogma, the Guardian Letters page, Young people are not fair game, Mr Osborne, contains, amongst others, one from our very own Bernard Davies.

One of the areas of provision which wasn’t mentioned in your review of the effects of the cuts on services for young people (theguardian.com, 10 July) was the local authority youth service and the informal educational opportunities these have provided. Yet last year a Unison survey of 168 local councils across the UK revealed that between 2012 and 2014 funding for these services was cut back by at least £60m, resulting in the loss of more than 2,000 youth worker jobs and 41,000 youth service places, the closure of around 350 youth centres and a reduction of 35,000 hours of outreach work.

Findings from surveys over a number of years, including one in 2013, suggest that as a result as many as 800,000 young people – many of them with limited or no contact with other supportive agencies outside school – could well have been affected.
Bernard Davies
Leamington Spa

Also see 5 reasons why the first Conservative Budget for 19 years is disaster if you’re under 25

and

Young People To Bear Brunt Of George Osborne’s £12bn Welfare Cuts

and

The Tories Have Really Done Young People Over With The New Budget

From Oxford to Barnsley – young people speaking out

The Oxfordshire young people won’t lie down, although they do so for artistic reasons at the end of this video!

Thanks to Xanna for the link.

Whilst in Barnsley a group of young people explored how they felt about the world in general in these two ‘voice and influence’ videos. After ignoring the messages in the film for almost a year, the council have now agreed to recognise that they have let the kids down and are currently creating new protocol for engaging with young people in communities.

Thanks to Lenny for the links.

ALL OUT THIS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12!

Doug Nicholls calls on everyone to make every effort to be in Solihull at the Choose Youth Rally on Saturday. As he stresses in his letter the stakes are high! Indeed the carnage continues with the news that Manchester is abandoning its entire Youth Service.

Dear Colleague

I am pleased to report that Charlene White and Efe Ezekiel, both experienced TV presenters will be helping to MC and host our rally on Saturday. They will be joined by Kurly, Birmingham’s poet laureate and Zara Sykes, a hop hop performer. In addition Banner Theatre will be with us as well as the King Drummers. There will be other attractions too and most of the young people’s campaigns on issues around the youth service. Lorely Burt and Julie Hilling, both MPs, are confirmed for the question Time Panel.

You will no doubt have seen from Children and Young People Now the results of both the Unite/CYPN survey and the Confederation of Heads of Young People’s Services survey make it clear that on top of the 100% cuts to many services, there is an aggregate one third cut to the service which in reality makes in unviable in most parts of the country. The situation is very urgent indeed. The three thousand youth work jobs currently under threat constituted the entire full time workforce not so long ago.

Our rally could not therefore be better timed.

The Education Bill Committee starts its work this week and an amendment in favour of the Youth Service will be forwarded. We also have the opportunities of the Minister’s Youth Summit and the Education Select Committee. Time is not our side, redundancy notices in over a third of the service are 90 day.

I hope the unfolding urgency of the situation will encourage you to urge even more colleagues to attend on Saturday.

Let us aim for a further 200.

I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday.

All the best.

Doug Nicholls.

BUILD THE RALLY! DEFEND YOUTH WORK!

Thanks to Anti-Cuts Across Wigan for the photo.

1. In the next week all supporters are asked to make every effort to push the significance of the CHOOSE YOUTH Rally on February 12 in Solihull. Please circulate the information around your own networks. We are aware that some workers have reservations about the rally format, feeling that its regulated character is at odds with the improvisation of student initiatives on the streets in the pre-Xmas period. However we know that these critics, despite their reservations, are to the fore in encouraging and organising both workers and young people to register and attend. So, with this in mind, let’s all make very effort to ensure the success of the Rally.

Full details are to be found at

http://chooseyouth.org/

The Rally flyer can be downloaded either from this site [see below] or the Rally’s Publicity page. UNITE is to be congratulated on the time, energy and finance the union is putting into the organisation of the event.

Booking places can be done easily on the site, whilst UNITE have appointed a network of transport co-ordinators. For instance, as an example, we have been informed that a 100 seater coach is leaving London at 7.30 a.m. on the day. Knowing this sort of effort is being made should help mobilise people.

It is no exaggeration to say that the future of an open and voluntarily negotiated work with young people is under severe threat. The fundamental premise of the post-Albemarle settlement – that youth work is about informal education, the positive fostering of the critical young citizen – is in danger of being abandoned. Far too often we lapse into a negative defence of our practice. When challenged by the media, we argue that youth work  prevents anti-social behaviour, reduces drug misuse and even reduces teenage pregnancies. Such arguments are in danger of being hostage to fortune. In overusing and emphasising the preventative dimension to our work with young people we play into the hands of those, who wish to redefine us as youth social workers or positive activities instructors. More than ever we need to stress confidently that youth workers are informal educators, who labour in a distinctive, voluntary setting, where the young people’s agenda is paramount. This is what makes us different. This is what makes us influential.

STOP PRESS : There is now a CHOOSE YOUTH thread on the CYPN forum. Put in your pennyworth and create some momentum.

BUILD THE RALLY!  CHOOSE YOUTH!  DEFEND YOUTH WORK!

2. Exclusive Survey by CYPN youth services and children’s centres worst hit as cuts average 13% in one year.

3. Closing date for petition against Warwickshire’s closing down of the whole youth service is the end of this week. Go to

http://www.petition.co.uk/signatures/withdraw-proposal-to-cease-the-whole-of-the-youth-service-in-warwickshire

or

http://democratic.warwickshire.gov.uk/cmis5/EPetitions/tabid/90/ID/20/Withdraw-proposal-to-cease-the-whole-of-the-Youth-Service-in-Warwickshire.aspx

The Struggle continues – next step in Solihull on February 12. Let’s make some noise!

SECOND NATIONAL CONFERENCE, SHEFFIELD : STRATEGIES OF RESISTANCE

Despite our anxiety the Sheffield conference proved be a positive experience. Over fifty supporters from across the country warmed by the welcoming atmosphere of the beautifully renovated St Mary’s Conference Centre focused on how to take the Campaign forward in these troubled times.  To get a flavour of the day’s events, go to

http://vimeo.com/16706922

Here you will find a 20 minute video, expertly put together by Rory Gault, from which the still photos in this post are taken. It includes excerpts from the contributions made by Alima Sonne, Tony Taylor, Gill Archer and Doug Nicholls, together with comments from both participants and representatives from the regional groups.

Given this resource we will concentrate here on outlining the proposals for action taken at the gathering, which we hope all our supporters will take to heart.

STEERING GROUP PROPOSALS

It was agreed that the core members would be Sue Atkins, Malcolm Ball,  Bernard Davies, Donald MacDonald in liaison with Tony Taylor, whilst emphasising that meetings are open to all supporters, whose presence is very much encouraged. Next meeting is provisionally planned to take place in Durham on Thursday, December 2. More details to follow.

– It was agreed  that supporters be encouraged to join the appropriate trade union in their locality and to be involved fully in the the growing campaigns to defend jobs and services within the state and voluntary sectors.

– Following upon the successful North-East event focused on collecting the ‘stories’ of our encounters with young people, it was agreed that other regions be encouraged to organise similar evidence-creating events. Support to do this is readily available.

– Regions are encouraged to identify two people to act as links with the central Campaign – see separate post identifying these stalwarts!

– In addition regions are encouraged to organise independently open, argumentative, controversial debates about the issues facing us e.g. the Youth Work under the CONDEMNS day held in Manchester.

–  It was accepted that we should pursue enthusiastically the possibility of playing a significant part in next year’s  Social Work Action Network April conference in Birmingham.

– It was agreed that we should pursue with groups from Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland Italy, Luxembourg and Norway the concept of a European Network of Open Youth Work.

The afternoon saw people working in regional groups exploring ‘strategies of resistance’ and ‘how best to organise at local and regional levels’.

Strategies of Resistance

Amongst the suggestions were:

– to revive our commitment to being ‘in and of’ the community, which has been undermined by the  often short-term and distanced emphasis of so much targeted work.

– to encourage and support local meetings of workers outside of work on a regular basis in the coffee house or pub, where information can be shared and tactics debated. Isolation needs to be overcome.

– to work directly with young people locally around such questions as ‘what do they get out of youth work?’,’what would they do if it disappeared?, ‘how do they feel about the wider attacks on education and welfare?’ Moving on, if possible, to young people interviewing their friends using video, using the material to engage with managers and councillors. Workers and young people need to be training together about how things change. We should be taking up demands such as ‘Votes at 16’. We need to reclaim political education, to call the bluff on Youth Participation.

– to recognise that youth work academia is proving to be an important source of resistance. Closer ties need to be made between workers, students and lecturers.

– to continue prioritising the ‘Stories’ project. The North-East event facilitated by Bernard Davies was very successful and should be replicated in other regions. Tania de St Croix is running a workshop on this theme at the Federation of Detached Youth Work conference.

– to make alliances locally and regionally across the voluntary and state sectors, within and among the agencies involved  in Integrated Youth Support Services. We need to resist the ‘divide and rule’ tactics of management and the employer. Our struggle is but a piece in the fight to defend the post-war settlement and the creation of the Welfare State.

Organising Regionally

We will post separately on regional developments as we want to stress the vital role of organising on this basis. In particular we want to strengthen the relationship between the centre and the regions. Thus regions are being asked to nominate two contacts, who will be responsible for maintaining communication with the steering group and the web site. More information in the next few days.

Out of the conference we have high hopes that the North-East, North-West, South Yorkshire/East Midlands. West Midlands, South-East and South-West regions will prosper and become more visible. And, of course we hope that other regions will spring into life.

In the final session we confirmed with one another that the Campaign is a collective and participative endeavour. The steering group will do its best to facilitate, lead and organise at a national level. We will try to maintain a lively and informative web site. However in the end any impact we might make depends on us all pulling together. In the words of one participant, ‘we need to break from the passivity that seems to stifle so many of my colleagues.’ In the words of Percy Shelley, we need to

“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number-
Shake your chains to earth like
dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many-they are few.”

In closing we must thank all the platform speakers for their stimulus, Sue Atkins for her sterling work behind the scenes, the staff at St Mary’s for their hospitality, Tania for her notes and again Rory of  Redking Video productions.