Worrying news from our good friends in Queensland, Australia as the Labour administration ignores its proposals for investment in the youth sector.
Worrying news from our good friends in Queensland, Australia as the Labour administration ignores its proposals for investment in the youth sector.
Following the Tory victory there has been much soul-searching amongst our followers about what this is going to mean for the present and future of our work and the wider society.
In this blog, GREED VS MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS Emily Hewson draws on Maslow’s classic triangle of need to explore today’s empty talk of encouraging aspiration.
Over the weekend I’ve heard a lot about needing to give people aspiration. The problem is that it’s currently being thrown around with very little substance. I understand that the Conservative ideology behind all the horrifying cuts is actually around thinking that they think they are creating aspiration for people to climb out of poverty. Of course my concern is that by taking the ladder away, people can’t lift themselves out of poverty very easily because there are far too many obstacles. You then end up with a situation where the gulf between the rich and poor simply gets wider with more and more issues happening in areas where there are less resources and more people in poverty.
It really does feel as though we’ve forgotten a really basic theory – one which any youth and community worker will know like the back of their hand. We all learn this in training, and it’s definitely one which any decent community needs analysis should start with.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
There are lots of adapted diagrams out there but I’ve gone with the very basic one Maslow used when he came up with the theory back in 1943. You see, what worries me is that if people are struggling to get their physiological needs met, how on earth are they going to be able to move from the first level at the bottom of the pyramid? They will be stuck there unless we pull them back up. Yet if the services which were in place to pull people back up are cut, who’s left?
Meanwhile Naomi Stanton muses LAST WEEK I VOTED GREEN. TODAY I JOINED THE LABOUR PARTY. HERE IS WHY.
Since the moment the exit polls were released at around 10.15pm on Thursday evening, I have been carrying a sense of defeat and despair. Until this morning. Today the anger has taken over – and with it, a determination to do something – many things – to take action. I am not sure exactly what I need to do yet but I know it’s a combination of helping those who will be most affected by five more years of austerity – and of doing my best to make sure that it will only be five more years. No more.
Last week I voted Green. I voted Green because they seemed to best reflect my concerns. For social justice. For reversing the privatisation of health, education, transport. For re-establishing a statutory Youth Service. They seemed to offer more hope than the other left-wing parties. They had the untainted ideals of a minority party. And I live in a safe Tory seat – where I might as well have voted for what I believe most in.
She ends her piece passionately.
Without a statutory commitment to youth work, however, there is no equity of provision for young people and what services are available are patchy and under-funded. Thanks to five years of the Tories, and the next five to come, Youth Services are probably the first public service to be completely wiped out.
That’s why I would rather support the Labour Party and work from within to promote an understanding of what youth work is than see the Conservatives remain in power. The party that destroyed youth work. Tore it to shreds and will now hoover up those last remnants. The party that stigmatises young and vulnerable people. That tells us that if we have a lot it’s because we worked hard and deserve it. But that if we don’t have a lot, it’s because we haven’t worked hard enough. Whilst ignoring the structural inequalities that exist in opportunity, education, employment, support and other resources between rich and poor.
Part of my sadness over the last few days has come from a deep sense of hurt – that some of the people who are closest to me voted for the party that has done so much damage to the young people and services I have spent years standing up for. But, I am done licking my wounds. I am ready to roar.
I WILL see change. I WILL be part of it. I promise.
Lots to think about and discuss here, especially for those of us, who gave up on Labour long ago. I hope you read both blogs in full and enter the debate.
Sadly this is just more empty political posturing. Even on its own terms the proposal is riddled with flaws and contradictions – see some of the young people’s immediate responses. And the weary discourse is one of sanction and denial- take benefits away from problematic young people, refuse to face the consequences of your own embrace of the neo-liberal market.
It’s stimulating to receive another contribution to the ongoing debate about how we best defend a ‘democratic and emancipatory’ practice. In this piece Steve Monaghan shares his concerns and asks whether we are prepared to take risks in building resistance to the dismantling of youth work.
The dismantling of Youth Service or Youth Work
Whether it is the impending cuts or the previous government`s creation of Childrens Services the Youth Service, provided by the local authority, is disappearing. Some local authorities have embraced the Youth Service as a partnership between the voluntary sector and the statutory sector, others have not, both in the past and now. Take a look at the actual or proposed cuts in services across the country via Children and Young P eople Now.
The creation of a Childrens (and Young Peoples) Service spawning integrated services, targeted youth support service and other multi-professional bodies, in light of The Laming Report, could provide a better service for young people. However, there is always the possibility that bringing services together, in a climate of cuts, is an opportunity to reduce the service to young people. If not in quantity more than likely in quality.
I believe that having the fullest information leads to better, and more democratic, decision-making. This is a principle some youth workers adhere to, usually referred to as not tokenism, more participative, the right of the young person to have an informed say, etc. We, the Youth Workers are disenfranchised by not having our say. Which is better no Youth Service or no Youth Work ? And which version of these are you prepared to defend ?
On the one hand we need a job to pay our way, currently I am a Youth Worker with 21 years continuous service, but are you happy doing social work, health work, police work, childrens work, family work, individual work, teaching, etc. Are these other colleagues jobs ? Do we have the professional experience to do these jobs ? These jobs offer the opportunity to expand your experience/training/opportunity to be more flexible. Is this a good thing ?
As a manager a more flexible workforce is easier to manage and direct. My experience, and currently my daughter’s, of working in a supermarket with shift patterns, overtime and 24/7 opening hours is a model of flexible working. The loss of hard fought for rights/entitlements such as annual leave, in the interests of flexible working (or a service when it is needed – defined by whom?) seems to be pitching young peoples rights against workers rights . But is this the case ?
The Voluntary Sector organisations are rubbing their hands, in anticipation of the work coming their way via commissioning, etc. But generally speaking, Youth Workers, and other workers, have lesser pay and conditions in the Voluntary Sector. This helps the VolOrgs compete for contracts, in a climate of small budgets, to deliver a quality service to a defined number of young people. Whilst their specialisms, such as disabled young people, may place them in a better position to provide a service – why should young people have less money to meet their needs ?
`The devil is in the detail` someone said. So, whether we wish to attribute to Youth Work a professional status is irrelevant because we need to defend Youth Work as a diverse set of values. I find myself being precious about the why, how and with whom of Youth Work and, in so doing, `attacking` other descriptions or lack of them.
Yes many people, even none public servants, want to help Young People. Yes some want to help groups and/or individual Young People. Yes some believe and act, in their help mode, Young People to use the system to their advantage. Attending school is a good thing – does this mean education is a good thing ? No, because education is broader than school (Ivan Illich/Paulo Freire, etc.).
This lack of distinction is part of the nebulous dumbed-down society we live in and perpetuated by not questioning it. Youth Work has a role to question the perceived natural order. To create enquiring minds. If the ONLY Young People we work with are the `vunerable` (read not conforming) then we will not encourage their enquiring minds and behaviour but endorse a prescribed way of being determined by the great and good.
The time to reflect is not an exclusive to Youth Work discipline but it is central to Youth Work. The world of New Labour/Tory & Lib Dem coalition will be one of speed and doing. No time to contemplate because we have to tighten the belt to avoid economic disaster. Let`s consider what would happen if we made no cuts. We would still have a growing debt of £175 billion, we would still have disparity in salaries/bonuses and Young People would still be ill-educated, unemployed, anti-social, etc.
Why is this ? Because the economic/social order is a narrow choice if you have no real or virtual wealth to play with the big boys. Your choice, Young People, is to work hard at school,and in employment, to have children so long as you’re not a teenager or single, don`t live off the state but do move off the estate, don`t drink alcohol or take drugs, etc. etc. This puritanical approach is not serving the Youth Work I trained for, develop every time I work and would like to promote, not just defend.
The end may be nigh but the heart and soul of Youth Work has a place in Services for Young People. It is never too late to fight but what are YOU prepared to risk for the sake of Young People ?
Steve Monaghan June 2010
At the national conference we agreed to explore ways of utilising the pre-Election period to highlight our defence of democratic Youth Work. You will find below, for what it is worth, a possible letter to local candidates with copies to the press inviting them to a public meeting to debate the future of youth work. The LEIGH bit is just about where I was born – substitute as appropriate! Obviously you might want to revise, tear it up or whatever, but I think such an approach has some value, especially if it could be sent with the backing of the local union branches and voluntary organisations.
Better to act than just grumble [ apologies to William Morris]
We’ve set up a specific forum to encourage debate and action over the next couple of months. Have your say there.
THE IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK CAMPAIGN THE LEIGH PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCY
An Open Invitation to all Parliamentary Candidates in the forthcoming General Election These are troubled times. Commentators from across the political spectrum talk endlessly about the economic and political crisis. Against this backcloth everyone worries about the present generation of young people. On the one hand they are seen positively as being ‘Our Future’. On the other they are demonised as an anti-social threat to the very fabric of our society. Continue reading
We welcome your critical thoughts on the conference. To start the pram perambulating, here are some early contributions from those attending.
I think the new management culture (bureaucracy) has been developing and strengthening its own systems and structures to the point where it has taken control of society. I felt this shortly after Thatcher kicked our arses in the miners strike. Where bureaucracy used to support, it is now in command. Where bureaucracy once supported capitalism, capitalism now supports bureaucracy. I must admit I’m not the greatest fan of Marx and so I don’t believe capitalism will necessarily consume itself. I think Marx underestimated the strength of technology and that technology has protected the structures and that… what the fuck am I raving on about?!!! How do you deal with an aggressive management culture? We can’t fight it toe-to-toe because it is far too big and we are far too small (at the moment). My own strategy has been a self-destructive one. I have told the system that I disagree with it and now I’m a marked man. It doesn’t matter how much honesty and integrity I have, I’m still seen as an agitator, a trouble-causer and an irritant. I was called a “loose cannon” a couple of months ago that really hurt. I always see a loose cannon as being someone who is reckless and destructive whereas my focus has always been on “fixing” things which don’t work properly. If I’m not allowed to fix something, which is pretty much the case here, then I expose it. I’m also a very cautious worker and … I digress… again. How do you deal with an aggressive management culture? If you want to keep your job I suggest you create an anonymous channel for critical debate. I suggest that you, me all of us make this debate as public as possible so that others who are disillusioned may seek some comfort and support and encouragement in knowing they are not alone. If we can encourage everyone to talk by offering anonymity then we will have a situation where our voice is louder and we will also be able to look at our numbers. At the moment we haven’t got a clue how many people out there are disheartened by this situation. Maybe there is only a handful of us but maybe there are thousands of us. I think this information is important so that we can build strategies around it. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle isn’t it? People won’t speak out because they feel exposed and vulnerable but people feel exposed and vulnerable because no one else is speaking out.
Thank you for the lead in organising the IDoYW; which incidently looks like txt speak for I do Youth Work. which can’t be bad!
And Andrew argues;
During my attendence of the most recent conference In Defence of Youth Work and the days following I have been in conflict regarding the tone and premise of the campaign. I do not disagree with the arguments raised. However in all honesty I found many aspects reactionary. I feel in some situations we missed the point. Yet the point was elusive to me, until now. The whole campaign in my view should be ‘In Support of Youth Work.’ To defend is to define. To defend is to identify a moment in which we associate and identify as needing defending.
To promote is to explore to look forward to open up. It is to say ‘We as an organisation of professional Youth and Community Workers promote and encourage Youth Work as a recognised celebrated successful way to informally educate and be educated. In doing so we will explore & provide opportunities to develop youth work with guiding principles of voluntary participation, leading to social, economic, physical, spiritual and political emancipation and empowerment. This will allow young people to be informed, yet challenged, critical yet communitarians, contributers not consumers within their family, society, culture, country and the world in which they live.’
We do this with support of central government, voluntary aided organisations, charities, faith groups and community groups. Our agenda is Young People and the community in which they live. It is our intent to promote and support this agenda as our own and In Support Of Youth Work for today tomorrow and the future.
COMPOSITE 1 – JNC PAY AND CONDITIONS AND THE DEFENCE OF YOUTH AND COMMUNITY WORK.
Conference believes that Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth and Community Workers (JNC) is the recognised national terms and conditions agreement for Professional Youth and Community workers in the Community Youth Workers and not for profit sector of Unite.
Conference therefore calls on the newly formed Regional Industrial Sector Committees to draw up a campaign to support and actively promote JNC within the public and voluntary sectors and in conjunction with the National Industrial Sector Committee to undertake research into any threats to JNC and inform members of progress in this work.
Conference notes the pressure and recognition that central Government has placed upon Youth Workers over the past year in reducing anti social behaviour, gang crime, crime in general, and reducing the numbers of those young people not in education, employment or training, using drugs and lowering teenage pregnancy rates. Conference recognises that this success is due to youth workers’ unique relationship with young people which is one of voluntary engagement with young people.
Conference further recognises that Central Government funding has not been passed down to Local Authority Youth Services but commissioned out, and in addition Local Authority and voluntary sector Services have been pressurised to provide extra services for young people on Fridays and weekends.
Conference therefore calls upon the Union to put pressure on Central Government and Local Authorities to direct funding to enable Local Authority and voluntary sector Youth Services to employ more staff and resources where they have the experience and expertise to provide cost effective services to young people.
Linked to this, this conference also notes with concern the way that Youth and Community Education and Training is moving away from being informed by progressive values, social justice and inclusive processes towards a depoliticised, narrower, competency based framework.
Conference therefore calls on the National Industrial Sector Committee to put pressure on all institutions involved in the education and training of community and youth workers in order to reverse this trend through fully supporting and promoting the “In Defence of Youth Work” campaign”.
As I have underlined in my Summary piece this is a powerful statement, bedevilled by the fact that many IN DEFENCE supporters are not on JNC pay and conditions. We need to wrestle with this dilemma in the coming months. And, whilst I may be alone, I have never been convinced by the tactic of embracing the government’s line that youth workers are significantly in the business of reducing anti-social behaviour, crime etc….. In my opinion, conceding to this agenda back in the early 90’s has played a part in the insidious undermining of our distinctive identity as informal educators. The claim in the third paragraph of the Composite that our supposed success in reducing ‘bad behaviour’ is based on our voluntary engagement with young people is to muddy the waters deeply. A dimension within the IN Defence campaign is to argue precisely that the State’s strategy of insisting upon a behavioural approach to young people has pushed youth workers more and more into prescribed, imposed relationships, the very antithesis of voluntary engagement.