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?

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

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CREATING A STATUTORY YOUTH SERVICE – ROUND TABLE EVENT

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.’

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        Ta to the morningstaronline.com

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”.

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Youth Work Cuts, Bits & Pieces and a touch of Christmas Cheer

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Head done in, as usual, so simply sending seasonal greetings to all our readers and supporters- Ta to Justin Wyllie for photo

It’s always difficult to know what and how much to post across the holidays period, particularly the Christmas and New Year festive season. Thus this will be the last post of 2017 and inevitably a mix of gloom and hope, of contradiction and tension. It does contain links to articles/reports and blogs that you might read over a warming drink on a dark winter’s night in Macclesfield or indeed a cooling beverage on the beach in Mozambique.

CYPN reports that Youth service cuts ‘deeper than predicted’Spending on youth services by local authorities last year fell by £42m more than initially predicted, government figures have revealed. Statistics published by the Department for Education show that total expenditure by local authorities on youth services in 2016/17 came to £447.5m. This is £41.99m less than the £489.5m councils had told the DfE they were intending to spend and a 15.2 per cent cut on actual spending in 2015/16 of £527.9m.Separate figures published in September for predicted, as opposed to actual, spending show that funding is set to fall further, with councils saying they intend to spend £415.8m on youth services in 2017/18.

I think some IDYW followers were involved in CIRCUIT, a national programme for 15– 25 year-olds, led by Tate and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. From 2013-17, ten galleries worked in partnership with youth organisations, aiming to create opportunities for a more diverse range of young people to engage with art in galleries and to steer their own learning. Circuit highlighted the importance of the arts and youth sectors working as allies to champion positive change for young people. A number of reports are now available at https://circuit.tate.org.uk/explore/

The latest Youth & Policy article sees Gus John composing ‘a searing critique of policy in relation to youth violence – Youth Work and Apprehending Youth Violence. Gus focuses in particular on black young people and calls for a renewed role for youth work and education’. As he notes in the piece Gus trained as a youth worker in the late 1960s and was a practitioner and youth service manager for twenty years before becoming a director of education and leisure services. Significantly, he was one of only two directors of education / chief education officers who had attained that position through a youth work / social education route. See also Fifty Years of Struggle: Gus John at 70 and Reflections on the 1981 Moss Side ‘Riots’ : Gus John.

Mention of the National Citizen Service raises the hackles amongst many of our readers. Nevertheless, Graeme Tiffany, philosophical as ever, attended a recent seminar, ‘Next steps for the National Citizen Service and priorities for Character Education in England’. His incisive reflection on the experience is contained in his thoughts on meaning and value and observations such as ‘I remember Sheffield University’s Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Education, Wilf Carr once asking me: “why do we always ask what education is for, and never what education is?” This is fertile territory, and I suspect Wilf would have acknowledged the progress we made in our attempts to answer his question. Indeed, given the testimony of many at the conference, it seems reasonable to argue that education is implicitly about drawing out character, and particularly that related to good (and democratic) citizenship, perhaps even that it is implicitly philosophical too’.

There’s a lot more going on, but coverage will wait until the New Year. What’s the rush, even if we’re always rushing.

ChristmasCarolPage

To close I recommend for your enjoyment James Ballantyne’s ‘Albermarleys were dead to begin with…’ A Youthwork Christmas carol in which Justine ‘Scrooge’ Greening is visited by Lady Albemarle, the NCS, followed by Jeffs and Smith, the outcome being that to this reader’s delight Tiny Tony Taylor didn’t die and grew up to be a youth worker.

 

 

 

James celebrates the 12 youth work days of Christmas

James Ballantyne, blogger extraordinaire, leads us into the festive season. And all the best to you, James, for 2018. May your blogging continue to challenge us.

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                                             The 12 youthwork days of Christmas

On the 12 days of Christmas my youthworker gave to me…

12 annoying icebreakers

11 months of funding

10 broken ground rules

9 (or ninety) games of ping pongImage result for table tennis

8 hr sessional contracts

7 jeffs and smith books

6 franchise projects (speaking of which..)

N….C…. S…….  (or if you cant bring yourself to say NCS, say D…B….S instead)

4 smart objectives

3 supervisions

2 junior leaders

and (deep breath) an annual report for the charities commission!

Just getting in there early with a bit of Christmas cheer, I hope your end of term, last few sessions, staff meal outs, final mentoring group for the term goes well, and that you have a restful and positive Christmas, ready for the challenges that 2018 might bring us all in the youth work community. Thank you for reading, sharing and being part of the ongoing conversation in youth work in the UK and I hope reflections from this site have been useful for you this year. Happy Christmas!

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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“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. 

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 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