Must read blogs for youth workers includes IDYW

We’re not given to patting ourselves on the back for our endeavours so it’s gratifying to be given this thumbs-up from Aaron Garth over at Ultimate Youth Worker. And we’re very much in agreement with him about his other recommendations. Beware sycophancy we tell ourselves.

annualcheese-fest

Youth work is a strange beast. We aren’t great at tooting our own horn. Even worse at sharing what we do. So when people step into the gap and share their thoughts, dreams, aspirations, research and their passion it is a fantastic sight to see. There have been many youth work blogs that have come and gone over the years (a testament to our sectors difficulties). With this in mind here are a few of the blogs for youth workers we read regularly that keep us up to date and get our creative juices flowing.

IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK

We have been keen followers of the crew at In Defence for the last six years. The mix of news and thoughts on where the sector is at in the UK always keep us interested and informed. Tony Taylor does a great job bringing it all together with the occasional guest post from others throughout the sector. In Defence have a great open letter to the sector which states their view on youth work and how it should run. This is a must read for anyone who wants to stay in the youth sector for the long haul.

DETACHED YOUTH WORK – LEARNING FROM THE STREET

Over the past year we have got to know the writing of James Ballantyne really well. James writes at the intersection of Youth Work and Youth Ministry and brings a detached youth work perspective to his writings. James has a depth of knowledge and wisdom that shows through in pretty much every post he does. Another UK Native James brings a strong dose of detached youth work to his readers, a concept we should all get our head around. This blog is a fantastic resource for youth ministers who are looking to develop their skills and knowledge, and is a fantastic read for the rest of the sector to see what youth ministry could be like with a bit of youth work injected into it.

Exploring Youth Issues

Alan Mackie is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh who’s areas of interest include education and youth work. His blog brings articles o politics, young people, youth work and education together to give us a smorgasbord of thoughts. Alan’s blog is one of those We go to if we want to challenge our thinking and the way the world sees young people.

Radical Youth Practice

A New blog on the block is Radical Youth Practice from Rys Farthing. Rys was a lecturer of Aaron’s at RMIT over a decade ago and is now based in the UK. We expect a lot from this blog and it delivers in spades. Challenging the way youth services see political action as they worry about biting the hand that feeds them is an early taste of what’s to come from this powerhouse author. Its early days but we expect to see Rys around for a long time yet.

We can’t recommend these blogs for youth workers enough.

Go and check them out.

James Ballantyne on the Church, Revolution and Young People

A questioning blog from James as the Christian Holy Week draws to its climax, suggesting that the first ‘youth worship’ on Palm Sunday got a bit political.

moneylenders

“The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.“(Matthew 21: 14-15)

Indignant in this verse means a combination of grief and anger. The religious leaders were angry about what they were about to lose. But what was it they were indignant about, was it the tables, the money launderers and the confusion. No, it was because the next generation was singing his praises because they followed a new leader, they believed in a new revolution, one that challenged the old practices, the unfair ones.

Read in full at:

Easter week reflection; Where Children’s praises caused uproar

 

I wonder, does every Youthworker……?A freezing James Ballantyne ponders.

My favourite youth work blogger, James Ballantyne, kicks off the New Year with a list of questions it’s difficult to resist answering. His musing starts from pondering whether all youth workers are huddled in cold offices.

cold-office

Ta to distractify.com

Read in full at I wonder, does every Youthworker……?

That got me thinking – what else – apart from the ability to work in a cold office – what other experiences of youth work might be pretty much common, or even universal to all youth workers?

  • Do all youth workers have a positive experience of being ‘youth worked’ as a young person?
  • Do all youth workers have large DVD collections (we could be specific and suggest actual titles)
  • I wonder – do all faith-based youth workers either start or grow up evangelical? – some might stay.
  • Do all youth workers hope they had better supervision?
  • Have all youth workers used at least one ‘ready to use guide’ in youthwork magazine?
  • Have all youth workers had to try and describe what they do by saying what they’re not? (ie police, social worker, teacher)
  • Do all youth workers find the dark spots even when the light is blazing bright?
  • Do all youth workers love that moment when it ‘just clicks’ between themselves and a young person – that moment of conversation, moment of trust, moment of significance
  • Do all youth workers wish more people would ‘get’ what youth work actually is
  • Do all youth workers know the feeling of just running on adrenalin during a residential weekend with young people – but also loving every single minute of it
  • Have all youth workers (in the UK) read either something by Pete Ward, Jeffs and Smith, Paulo Freire, Danny Brierley or Richard Passmore?
  • Do all youth workers cringe at being subjected to the same ice-breakers that they subject young people to?
  • Has every youth worker had the ‘Why me?’ moment when the mini-bus breaks down half way up the M6, or young people smash windows on the residential, or terrorise the neighbours, or run across the roadr, drunk, just when you are with them on detached (maybe that one is just me) – but the ‘why me?’ moment none the less.
  • Has every youth worker took positives from the ‘why me?’ moment – either for themselves, the memories and experiences created or the relationship building with such challenging young people… yeah,, thought so..
  • Does every youth worker secretly wish they got paid as much as a teacher but glad they don’t have to do the work or have the day to day pressure a teacher does.
  • Does every youth worker drink coffee? ( actually no this isn’t true)
  • Is every youth worker on Facebook?
  • Does every youth worker love the variety of every day, of every week and every moment with young people?
  • Does every youth worker hate it when young people are misrepresented, judged unfairly and not listened to?
  • Does every youth worker work in a cold office space?

Nodding much? ..I thought so… I reckon I am at least 15 of these and so I wonder if they are just ‘highlights’ of my own experience as a youth worker, and I imagine many of you reading this will be able to add others to the list. It’s a bit like those magazines, if you scored 0-8 you’re not a proper youth worker, or ‘are you new?’ , score 8-15..and so on.. but

There are times when the world of youth work brings out the distinctions in people’s practices, beliefs or intentions, but I wonder deep down most youth workers share many common experiences of cold office spaces, misunderstood practice, love for coffee and DVD’s, and desire better supervision – all because they invest and care deeply about young people.

PS In a provocative tweet James asks, ‘Call yourself a youth worker? Maybe getting 15/20 is the benchmark?’

Amidst celebration the cuts continue

In the past few weeks I’ve been trying to get my head around the contrasting pictures of youth work painted nowadays,  one apparently vibrant, the other full of woe. I’ll post some thoughts about these parallel universes this week.

In the meantime James Ballantyne, blogger extraordinaire, is ahead of me, as is often the case. His latest rumination begins:

On the morning of Fidel Castro’s death, a possible recount of the votes in one American state and a huge swell of media attention to historic sex offences in football ( top three stories right now on BBC news website), there wont be many column inches spared to the pending closure of the Universal youth provision in Brighton which was announced in the last two days. It is part of a 1.3m savings process for the local council, in which ‘vulnerable young people may be put at risk’ the details are here: and by some accounts was announced to the media as consultations were being organised.

It feels a strange week then, given that ‘Youth worker of the year awards’ were publicised by ‘CYP Now’ this week, and the Christian Youth worker awards were held only 2 weeks ago. Is there much to be celebrated? – well of course given the huge demands on the profession, the people fighting for it and the work that is done to help young people, people delivering youth work should be heralded more than ever. But it remains a critical time and I didn’t hear much from the platforms of people giving prophetic, challenging messages about the state of the profession. You know, a bit like the actresses at the Oscars who know they are making a scene when they challenge gender pay inequality, or when race inequality is also challenged.

Where was the politically charged speech? if there was one it wasn’t shared very widely. Maybe the occasion too managed, the funding too precious, sponsorship too seductive, that at gatherings of youth work professionals calls to challenge the pending desolation of the founding identity of practice – the youth club is on its way out. I wonder if there is too much protectionism of the brands and organisations that people represent to challenge the powers and structure that are undermining youth work and in effect young people as people at all.

Read in full at Something socially good is lost when youth clubs are closing. 

cov-youth

 Coventry Demo : Ta to Bring Colour

And as for the continuing cuts:

For further information on the Brighton situation, see Charities may close as Brighton and Hove council prepares to scrap £1.3m youth services contract

In Somerset see the campaign Save Somerset LGBT+ Youth Support Group 2BU

In Kirklees https://indefenceofyouthwork.com/2016/11/11/save-kirklees-youth-service/

LIVELY PROTEST AGAINST YOUTH CLUB CLOSURES in Coventry

UNISON CYMRU reports that Youth centre closures in Wales reach 100 since 2012

 

If Young people exist in community – should youth workers develop positive community approaches?

Given yesterday’s notice of the Federation of Detached Youth Work conference and its theme of ‘community’, James Ballantyne, who is going to be one of the contributors, offers some advance thoughts, adding that you deserve a medal if you make it to the end of his piece. Obviously I’ve already put in for my reward.

Detached Youthwork - Learning from the Street by James Ballantyne

In  a few weeks time im delivering a workshop at the Federation of Detached youthwork conference, the title of which I am yet to finalise, but in readiness of the conference and its theme, i have asked around a few places to get a few definitions of ‘Youth work’ as well as gather some from the resources i have to hand on my bookshelf, or recent articles.

One of the themes of the Conference is – ‘Is community back on the Agenda?’ for detached youthwork, with the brief that aspects of partnership and community work seem to be more common place in detached youthwork at present, with the reason being that it might be other agencies, such as the police, that are in effect funding it, and so there has to be a community, or at least a community agency partnership focus to the work. The question i want to ask is

View original post 1,817 more words

Privileging Passionate and Risky Conversations in Informal Youth Work

Ta to AZ quotes

Ta to AZ quotes

In my last post, FORMALISING THE INFORMAL : THE NEED FOR CRITICAL DIALOGUE, I suggested that neo-liberal values had infected our work, so much so that they appear to be simply common-sense. One expression of neo-liberal’s instrumental fixation on outcomes is to dismiss  youth work’s informal education tradition as unable to deliver the goods. Neo-liberalism fears emotion, passion and love. Hence I hope you will have a sken at these two blogs by my favourite blogger nowadays, James Ballantyne. In these you are drawn into a world of improvisatory, deeply thoughtful practice.

The first, 10 Privileges of doing detached youthwork, describes being on the streets of Durham one Monday evening.

Its just an awesome thing to be present in the space of detached to enable young people to reflect and learn in the conversation, to help them think about the future, and to be able to do this without having to construct activity or cause them to be on a course. It’s a privilege.

The second, Passionate risky conversations, lets us into a dialogue between Paolo Freire and Myles Horton. James reflects,  “reading it has felt like being in the room with two passionate people, passionate about people, passionate about loving people and helping people make sense of the world, and helping people to understand the systems of the world that cause them to be inhumanely treated.”

We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change by Myles Horton, Paulo Freire

 

James Ballantyne on Tools, Genres and Trident

tools

Our friend, James Ballantyne is on a blogging roll. Indeed it’s difficult to keep up with his outpourings on Learning from the Streets, although it’s always worthwhile. They are a rich mix of theory and practice, of praxis.

On the practical side you will find 10 Tools to develop youthwork from scratch, which begins,

  1. Spend a long time researching, not just the area, the culture, the gaps and the gifts of the young people – but find out their interests, their skills and how they want to develop the group, what they want to do, where, when and how they want it to occur.

More broadly he plays around with whether it’s useful or not to categorise youth work in The quagmire of creating genres in youthwork, within which he ponders,

Many words have prefixed ‘youthwork’ over the past 20 odd years, some more helpful that others; Rural, Urban, Detached, Faith-based, Christian, Muslim, Voluntary, Jewish, Symbiotic (Passmore 2013), Sacrilized (Nash 2012), Street-based, Centre/community -Based, – have any of them become so clear that those within the profession know what they are? Well detached maybe.

And does it depend who is using them? – hence a good amount of confusion.

Whilst in Spending £31 Billion. On Trident or 1 million youth workers? he reflects that the £30-40 billion would,

  1. at £30,000 wages it would employ 1 million youthworkers for a year – with the right training, thus enabling many young people to develop better understanding of themselves in the world, support, inclusion and long term economic prospects (even if as youth workers we’d hate to say it)

Loads more too…. James is well worth following.