Renewing the independence of the voluntary youth sector : Reload CVYS, Friday, November 15



The former logo of the defunct NCVYS, once a proud, independent voice in the youth work arena


During our existence we have expressed on many occasions the concern that the voluntary youth sector is relinquishing its vital independence – see The NCVYS closure: Whither the voluntary youth sector’s independent voice? 

Thus it is fascinating to hear about the following initiative.


Charles W. Shaw informs that the further meeting of Councils for Voluntary Youth Services Network is to be held from 11am to 2pm Friday 17th November 2017 for the purposes of continuing the work started in Wolverhampton at the beginning of 2017.

Network CVYS will continue to examine how NCVYS lost its way, learn from this and plan a way to take positive steps forward and share with the sector.

Meeting will be held at The Royal Society of Arts, 8 John Adam Street,
London, WC2N 6EZ.
For further meeting details telephone 07818 434346 or email:

We hope to hear more about this promising development.


Plus ça change? UK Youth absorbs NCVYS functions

CYPN reports on further developments in the relationship between UK Youth, AMBITION and NCVYS, the latter, formerly the independent voice of the voluntary youth sector, disappearing from the scene sadly on April Fools Day – not much to smile about all round. As we noted in our last post on the subject, The NCVYS closure, we are unclear as to where this takeover of NCVYS’s functions leaves the necessity for a critical and independent voluntary youth sector voice.

UK Youth


UK Youth to take on NCVYS functions

A UK Youth spokesman said: UK Youth actively promotes collaboration across the youth sector and, following the sector consultation carried out with Ambition and NCVYS, UK Youth will also be leading on the youth sector Chair’s Taskforce to explore opportunities for further sector partnership and consolidation.

“UK Youth very much looks forward to working with Ambition to continue to tackle the challenges which the youth sector faces, to promote the value and impact of local and regional youth projects, and to secure the additional sources of funding needed to sustain the sector.” 


STOP, LOOK, LISTEN : Safeguarding Young People from Harmful Government Policies

Stop look listen

Message from NCVYS

29 February 2016 – take action on safeguarding

NCVYS is calling on all children and youth organisations to make the 29 February the one day this year where organisations Stop what they are doing, Look at their safeguarding practices, Listen to young people and take action.  NCVYS’s national safeguarding campaign aims to inspire and encourage children and youth organisations to show commitment to improving their safeguarding policies and standards.

Obviously we would encourage our supporters to respond to this call in terms of their own situations.

In a tweet the NCVYS also specifically asks In Defence of Youth Work what we might be doing in our own right.  I have offered the following pledge.

Obviously we will publicise the campaign on our IDYW blog, encouraging people to respond. Given the nature of our small organisation, our contribution to trying to protect young people will be to continue arguing the necessity for open, universal youth services underpinned by the voluntary principle, which, as shown by the Rotherham tragedy, offer the opportunity to foster trustworthy and authentic relationships with young people, which unfold over time. So too we will continue to campaign against neo-liberal government policies, that harm young people e.g. the privatisation of youth prisons and that make their future prospects in terms of, say, employment and housing evermore precarious. In doing so we will continue to pause for reflection, to observe what’s going on in society at large and listen to young people’s anger and frustration. Best Wishes.

As ever your thoughts and criticisms welcomed.


The Youth Sector – Bernard Davies questions the trajectory


Ta to

‘Charting a new course for Youth Services: some questions about the trajectory’?

If ever youth workers and the organisations that support and serve them needed to pull together, then now is that time. I for one have therefore welcomed the Youth Sector Collaboration Consultation initiated last October by NCVYS, UK Youth and Ambition and was pleased that IDYW was able to have two representatives at the open consultation event in London in November.

However the paper released by the three organisations outlining the consultations’ findings and a proposed set of actions for me raises a number of difficult questions. Some are about the final stages of the process – a two-day by-invitation event with the title ‘Changing the Trajectory – Charting a New Course for Youth Services’. This brought together thirty people from all the high profile national and some local voluntary youth organisations plus government and local authority representatives, academics, funders and the Centre for Youth Impact, with young people’s ‘voice’ represented by BYC and NUS. Significantly however no-one was invited from the somewhat maverick Woodcraft Folk, nor from the Institute of Youth Work, nor indeed from the youth work trade unions.   

Questions also now need to be asked, I believe, about the actual proposals, starting with the paper’s bold opening statement: ‘Government and the youth sector are united in their aim to improve outcomes for young people’. United 100%? On all possible, even likely, outcomes? Such as under-25s’ threatened loss of housing benefit? And the votelessness of 16 and 17 year olds in the coming European referendum? To say nothing of, between 2012 and 2014, the ‘outcome’ of 41,000 fewer youth club places – and rising? Is there nowhere within this claimed consensus for some of these ‘leadership organisations’ at least to take on the role of critical friend to ‘government’ – to advocate openly on behalf of all those young people now living very precarious lives, whose futures look no less precarious and who already been labelled ‘the lost generation’?

And then, for so many organisations whose history is inseparable from the history of youth work, there is the question: so where in this statement is the youth work? The paper manages two passing mentions. One, in a throw-back to the Victorian origins of many of the organisations involved, is to youth workers (together with ‘commission trainers’ and teachers) to ‘share and create character related materials for every school in the country’; the other to ‘youth work training for new forms of delivery organisation’.

What we get instead are frequent and often unexplained references to ‘non-formal education’; to ‘social development’; to the government’s failing apprenticeships scheme; to ‘social action’ (exemplified at one point as ‘working as a team to refurbish a Nursing Home’); and, as if this is or could be a substitute for all those lost local and open access youth club places, to the National Citizens Service. All underpinned by assumptions about the need for ‘new business models’ to shape those new delivery organisations and for ‘metrics’ which demonstrate outcomes overwhelmingly starting from the presumption that, within an environment taken overall to be benign, it is just the individual young person who needs to be ‘developed’.

At this stage I pose these questions on the premise that the query which headed the UK Youth blog on the findings paper: ‘Where Next for the Youth Sector?’ is a genuinely open one intended to prompt further debate on the crucial issues the consultation has raised. In this spirit I also look forward to IDYW collectively contributing further by offering its own positive vision for ‘charting a new course for youth services’ and in particular for that distinctive and, by young people, much needed practice we know as youth work.  

Bernard Davies,  January 2016

How Pluralist and Representative is the NCVYS/AMBITION/UK Youth Consultation?

by invitation

As you will know we are supporting the NCVYS/Ambition/UK Youth consultation, encouraging people to respond and we contributed to the open meeting on November 26 in London. However we were always less than comfortable with an invite-only event rounding off the timetable. Classically such invitation gatherings are often made up of the people most likely to support the a priori inclinations of the organisers. Indeed we touched on this concern in our previous post, commenting that “it will be revealing to see who are perceived to be the key stake-holders.”

The names of those attending are now revealed and can be seen in the attached pdf. It gives us no pleasure to express concern about the make-up of the assembled group, who were asked to address this theme, ‘Changing the Trajectory – Charting a New Course for Youth Services.’ The objectives of the first day were:

To establish a shared understanding of the current reality in youth services in the UK today.
To understand the basics of what collective impact is and how it works.
To understand the level of agreement of a proposal to develop a collective impact project.
To understand the importance of how we frame this issue going forwards.

We are not questioning the expertise of those involved. There are notable names in its ranks. We are though obliged to question whether the invited group is sufficiently diverse and pluralist. It comes across as top-heavy with CEO’s. In particular there is a glaring absence of representation from practitioners, either via the trade unions or the Institute of Youth Work.  In what sense could this group produce a rounded and shared understanding of ‘the current reality’. Perhaps we protest too much. Have a look and let us know what you reckon.




Ambition, NCVYS and UK Youth : On-line consultation – youth sector support need


Ambition, NCVYS and UK Youth invite you to participate in a joint consultation regarding the needs of the youth sector, including support arrangements, funding, sector voice and representation, support of practice and workforce development. If you do not have a LinkedIn account then you will be required to sign up. Also feel free to invite other members of your organisation by forwarding the following URL to them: and getting them to ‘ask to join’.

At this very moment [ 8/9 December] an invite-only consultation is taking place at the St Georges House  in Windsor. A list of those taking part plus papers will be available soon. Indeed it will be revealing to see who are perceived to be the key stake-holders. Especially, as for instance, we were surprised to hear that the emerging Institute of Youth Work is not at the table.

This aside we would encourage people to contribute to the consultation. We are a bit concerned that folk will be put off by having to sign up to LinkedIn itself. Let us know how you are going on.


Thanks to Nichola and CVYS for providing this Word version of the consultation document, which can be returned by e-mail or through the post. Deadline is December 31.

Response form_youth sector consult_FINAL

Youth Sector Collaboration Consultation Event

Malcolm Ball and Susan Atkins are attending this event on behalf of IDYW. Our starting point is that collaboration would be wonderful, but on what basis and with whom?  An honest account of the sector’s often uncritical collaboration with successive market and target-driven governments wouldn’t go amiss.


Youth Sector Collaboration Consultation Event
26 November 2015 at 10.30am to 1pm
The Foundry, 17 Oval Way, Vauxhall SE11 5RR

Organised by AMBITION, NCVYS and UK Youth
1. Welcome and refreshments

2. Background (Susanne Rauprich NCVYS, Anna Smee UK Youth & Helen Marshall Ambition)
3. Roundtable discussions:
1. The Youth Sector: over the past few years, the youth sector landscape has changed with different organisations involved in the delivery of young people’s services. How would you describe the current landscape and who are the key national players?
2. The Youth Offer: from your knowledge of the wants and needs of young people, and given the changing landscape and limited resources, what should a youth offer look like now?
3. Youth Sector Support & Leadership:
(i) What support is needed for providers and what would be your top 3 priorities? What kind of support do you currently access and from whom, is it accessible and what are the gaps?
(ii) What should be the priorities for funders and commissioners? What should they be doing more or less of?
(iii) What should be the priorities for policy makers? What are the top 3 outcomes on which they should be focusing?
4. Wider Partnerships: the youth sector has a strong partnership tradition. Who do we need to partner with now given our aspirations for young people? What alliances should we build locally and nationally to secure a strong future for youth services?
4. Feedback and next steps