Youth and Policy: The final issue? Towards a new format

Youth & Policy is about to take a new, positive turn. We have copied below the editorial group’s explanation and hope to play our part in contributing to the journal’s continuing desire to be a critical and challenging voice.

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Youth & Policy: The Journal of Critical Analysis was formed 35 years ago in 1982, to address a need for ‘a serious journal of analysis and review which focused its attention upon the whole area of youth policy’. The journal aimed – and continues to aim – to address itself not only to youth work, youth services and education, but also to the wider field of young people and how young people are impacted by (and how they have an impact on) policy. The journal has been highly influential in the field and valued by students, researchers, lecturers, practitioners and activists. Those who set it up, and those who have been involved throughout the last 35 years – editorial group members, reviewers, writers, proof-readers, and others – should be justly proud of what it has achieved. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed in any way. However, the time has come for a change. In recent years, Youth & Policy has faced a few challenges, including:

 
• A steep fall in the numbers of high quality articles submitted. We are always glad to see excellent articles from our valued, committed and regular writers and new contributors, but overall the numbers are falling, and this means we do not have enough quality articles to release the journal on a regular basis. There are a number of factors underlying this decline in quantity and quality. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) and similar processes internationally tend to incentivise academics to submit to journals with high ‘impact factors’ – and while we know that an article in Youth and Policy has more likelihood of being read than one in most ostensibly ‘higher impact’ journals, readership does not count for a great deal. At the same time, academics’ and practitioners’ workloads are increasing exponentially, hence there is reduced time for any of us to write (or, for that matter, to peer review, edit and coordinate journals)! Sadly, it seems that many lecturers in the field of Youth Studies and Youth and Community Work are given negligible time – if any – for research and writing.

 
• A growing proportion of inappropriate and irrelevant articles are being submitted, which do not meet the remit of our journal and/or are not in any way ready for publication. Presumably this is also due to the ‘publish or perish’ culture. Often it feels as though we are receiving articles that have been rejected elsewhere and have not been adapted for our journal – we are not talking here about articles from the field, but irrelevant articles that do not address the aims of our journal and have often not been proof-read. It takes a great deal of (voluntary) time and energy to read through these submissions and provide helpful feedback.

 
• Technological challenges and workload pressures amongst some members of the editorial group have conspired to take the journal offline for periods and/or hold up the publication of some issues for an unacceptably long time. We realise that this may feed into the first challenge – the lack of quality submissions – but because the reduction in quality submissions predated our technological challenges, we feel that this is not the main factor.

 
We know that Youth and Policy continues to be valued, particularly by lecturers, researchers, students and (to some extent) practitioners in the field of youth and community work. We also aim to reach and contribute towards wider youth and policy related networks, beyond ‘youth work’ and its related practices, but it is less clear how successful we have been in regard to this aim in recent years. Overall, we have had a general feeling that Youth & Policy is not responsive enough (we know that we are too slow to publish time-relevant articles), is not reaching a wide enough audience, and is not attracting sufficient high quality submissions to sustain the publication of a journal that is produced regularly enough to contribute in a timely way to present policy debates. As REF-type procedures and heavy workloads are likely to continue to affect the quality and volume of articles received, we feel the time has come to make a change.

 
The way ahead
We have decided to move towards a more responsive format. The new Youth & Policy will continue to be free, open access and online, yet rather than having ‘issues’ we will instead publish individual articles, which can be published as soon as they have been prepared. Most of these articles will be much shorter – up to 2000 words in length. We are setting up a new website that will be easier for all of us on the editorial group to access and edit. We have now had all our ‘hard copy’ back issues scanned (a garagantuan task!) and will host these on the new website, alongside the full range of our existing electronic editions. We recognise that there will be some disadvantages to the new system, but we are confident that any that arise will be outweighed by the benefits. Needless to say, we will monitor and review the new format closely during the months following the launch. However, there are also clear advantages in terms of a much easier process, which will enable quicker publication. We believe that the new format will be easier for researchers, lecturers, students and practitioners to access and read, and hope that it will be read and shared more widely and attract more high quality contributions. We will still exercise a system of quality control, through a simplified and streamlined peer review process, and those academics who need to be able to say they are submitting to a peer reviewed journal will still be able to do so. We will occasionally invite longer journal-length articles, but these will be the exception rather than the norm.

 
We will continue to seek articles which provide a critical analysis of current policy issues affecting young people. We are keen to host original articles on a wide range of themes – education, employment, justice, health, identity, equality, youth services, media, campaigning, and many more. We hope existing contributors and new writers will be keen to contribute, so do look out for our guidelines for submissions. Our new format site will be up and running (at the same web address) within a few weeks of the publication of this final edition and we will launch the new format at an event in the autumn. We will also continue to organise conferences and seminars –note the advance date for our forthcoming ‘Youth Policy: Then and Now’ conference, March 9th– 10th 2018, which will draw together historical and present themes and research. We hope to see you all at these or other events in the near future.

 

Download Y&P 116 at http://www.youthandpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/yandp116.pdf

Youth and Policy: The final issue? Towards a new format

Youth Work and Informal Education: Finding common ground
Tony Jeffs

Beyond the Local Authority Youth Service: Could the state fund open access youth work – and if so, how? A speculative paper for critical discussion
Bernard Davies

Scientism, governance and evaluation: Challenging the ‘good science’ of the UK evaluation agenda for youth work
Deirdre Niamh Duffy

Extending democracy to young people: is it time for youth suffrage?
Kalbir Shukra

Youth and adult perspectives on representation in local child and youth councils in Ireland
Shirley Martin and Catherine Forde

What, no coaching? Challenging the dominance of mentoring in work with young people
Tina Salter

Effective gang policy and practice: how research with ‘Black male youth’ problematizes the official definition of the UK gang
Ian Joseph

Social work with children in the Youth Justice system – messages from practice
Jane Pye and Ian Paylor

Organised Crime, Street Gangs and County Lines
John Pitts

The American news media and youth: distortion, defamation, demographic fear
Mike Males

Finding a better way of protecting young workers
Jim McKechnie, Sandy Hobbs, Emma Littler and Amanda Simpson

Margaret Mead and the ‘Unknown Children’
Mike Males

Young Women, Youth Work and Politics

By chance I tripped over this piece in the Huffington Post written by Sarah Robertson, Politicians meet the People. It begins:

Thanks to The Young Women’s Trust and the Good Youth Forum funded by Trust For London, I had the opportunity to have a tour of the Houses of Parliament in May and then a round table discussion with Labour MP’s. It was part of a piece of work around the development of services for women and girls and why young people don’t vote.

In addition Sarah reflects:

The group wanted to ask questions such as, with huge cuts in government funding out statutory youth service has been demolished with the pressure falling in the voluntary sector, who will support and represent our vulnerable young people and how will you reach and inspire this group to vote? And, was the last discussion just a publicity stunt to show Labour trying to engage with young people? And with cuts to NHS funding who will support the increasing number of young people with mental health? They had prepared lots of interesting questions and statements but lack of structure and time made it difficult to decipher any clear answers or actions at all. Even a straight forward answer to a question posed to an MP asking if she had accessed housing benefit was deflected and went unanswered. This did not fill young women with inspiration or trust only reinforced the view that young women were angry, frustrated and needed something drastic to inspire them and others to engage in the political system.

FMC logo

In my ignorance I’d not heard of the Young Women’s Trust or the Good Youth Forum, but the obligatory Google took me to the Future MOLDS Communities web site. Here is to be found another example of the changing economy of youth work, within which workers set up social enterprise initiatives in a bid to maintain provision for young people. Sarah is revealed to be the the Founder, Managing Director and volunteer of Future MOLDS Communities, a youth and community group and social enterprise run by local people for local people. She provides this eloquent case for the work of the project.

We are from deprived, disadvantaged and vulnerable environments facing issues which affect everyday life. These issues range from financial poverty, mental health, homelessness, unemployment, poor sexual health, teenage pregnancy and criminality. As a group of passionate, motivated and caring individuals we work together with our communities to overcome our barriers and strive for the ‘self-actualisation’ Maslow speaks of. But everyday life is a struggle and the demand for our help is ever increasing with the failure of statutory services to the most vulnerable and the ignorance of the systems which govern them. With £54million cuts to local authority funding it is our vulnerable young people and young adults who are suffering. Cuts are disproportionately hitting our young people the hardest with youth services slashed to a bare minimum of targeted provisions and the voluntary sector are expected to step in and pick up the growing and unacceptable slack.

The struggle for funding for grassroots groups who help the most vulnerable is a tragedy. Funding is eaten up by local authorities and large charities which then ask grassroots groups for voluntary help in engaging the underrepresented groups they are failing. Having a voice on a wider stage seems insignificant if you can’t even be heard in your local community. Local young people have developed a youth forum (The Good Youth Forum) to highlight and discuss local issues affecting their everyday lives after securing funding from Trust For London. It’s a platform for them to explore the world from their perspective, explore changes they would like to happen and developing strategies to affect change. Young people need that space and freedom to explore theirs and others worlds, to express their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs and to feel empowered to contribute towards change.

Although the platform we provide may be small it’s a platform for the effective representation of the views of underrepresented local young women. These views are pretty depressing, saddening, heart breaking, powerful and justified. Current attitudes towards the establishment, politics, the statutory sector and government in general are extremely negative with a sense of being failed, let down and unheard. There is a lack of trust and feelings of dishonesty when it comes to politics and politicians. They feel their needs are not heard, understood and subsequently failed to be addressed adequately.

On discussing voting with a group of young women, their views reflected the anger at not being able to affect or create change for themselves and their peers. They clearly stated they were not the least interested in politics, it is not a priority for them and the only reason they were engaging in such a discussion was because I’d asked them to. If I had not asked them, who would know their views, who would know how they feel, how are these vulnerable young women represented in today’s politics? This is another example, of the importance of funding for quality youth work in order to explore the world we all live in and so that young women are empowered to speak out about their priorities and they are represented.

At a time when there is a drive for the ‘de-professionalisation’ of our roles, a cut in our funding and an increase in demand for our services the same need for resilience, the need to develop coping strategies and the need to adapt in change we hope to see in our young people is something we need to develop as professionals. Keeping the faith is going to be the biggest challenge for all!

Young Women, Youth Work and Politics – Sarah Robertson

In recent months it has become more and more apparent that we are facing something of a crisis in youth work. Although I do need to remind myself that back in 1981 I was involved in organising a conference in Manchester,’Youth Work and the Crisis’! Nevertheless we are facing a qualitative shift in how youth work is funded and provided. In this light it’s great to hear voices from the ground, articulating what’s going on and how it is impacting on young people.

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Ta to powerfulinformation.org

In this sharp and revealing blog Sarah Robertson talks about Youth Work, Young Women and Politics – read it in full.

She begins:

I have been a youth worker for over 10 years but for the last six years I’ve had to become a coach, tutor, assessor, youth and community worker, mediator, advocate, administrator, finance office and fundraiser in order to sustain the work we do.

Amongst the points she makes:

The struggle for funding for grassroots groups who help the most vulnerable is a tragedy. Funding is eaten up by local authorities and large charities which then ask grassroots groups for voluntary help in engaging the underrepresented groups they are failing. Having a voice on a wider stage seems insignificant if you can’t even be heard in your local community. Local young people have developed a youth forum (The Good Youth Forum) to highlight and discuss local issues affecting their everyday lives after securing funding from Trust For London. It’s a platform for them to explore the world from their perspective, explore changes they would like to happen and developing strategies to affect change. Young people need that space and freedom to explore theirs and others worlds, to express their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs and to feel empowered to contribute towards change.

She ends:

At a time when there is a drive for the ‘de-professionalisation’ of our roles, a cut in our funding and an increase in demand for our services the same need for resilience, the need to develop coping strategies and the need to adapt in change we hope to see in our young people is something we need to develop as professionals. Keeping the faith is going to be the biggest challenge for all!

Embracing the Passion : Christian Youth Work and Politics

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Nigel Pimlott’s new book, ‘Embracing the Passion ; Christian Youth Work and Politics’ is now available. We are informed that:

There are two ways you can buy Embracing the Passion:

1)      You can purchase it online in the normal way at the special offer price of £10 (rrp £19.99) plus £2.60 p&p by clicking here .

2)      Alternatively, you can pay what you would like to pay for it (min £3 plus £2.60 p&p)!

Nigel Pimlott’s book not only equips and inspires youth workers to make a difference in the world, but it also challenges us to live differently. Buying the book in this alternative ‘kingdom’ way reflects the spirit of this challenge.

If you work with or support young people, live in the UK and are short of money at this time, then make us an offer to buy a copy of Embracing the Passion at a price you can afford – don’t be shy. Simply email us alongside@fyt.org.uk your details and your offer and we will process your request.

Equally, we are hoping some people will be willing to pay more than the £10 offer price. Nigel decided not to take any money for writing Embracing the Passion and has requested any profits we make out of selling it be reinvested in the work Frontier Youth Trust does. So, buy Embracing the Passion at a premium price and help support us. Simply email us alongside@fyt.org.uk your details, amount you wish to pay and we will process your request.

Nigel is one of our keynote speakers at IDYW’s  sixth national conference in Leeds on Friday, March 13 – Engaging with Difference, Finding Common Ground : Faith and Secular Youth Work.

Engaging with Difference, Finding Common Ground : IDYW 6th National Conference

Logo IDYW

IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK SIXTH NATIONAL CONFERENCE

FRIDAY, MARCH 13 AT THE BURLEY LODGE CENTRE, LEEDS

Engaging with Difference, Finding Common Ground

Faith and Secular Youth Work

11.00 Welcome and brief IDYW announcements

11.15- 12.15 Nigel Pimlott, author of ”Embracing Passion :
Christian Youth Work and Politics’

12.20 -1.20 M. G. Khan, author of ‘Young Muslims,
Pedagogy and Islam’

1.30 – 2.00 Lunch

2.00 – 2.20 Launch of our web-based resource,
‘story-tellinginyouthwork’

2.25 – 3.25 Naomi Stanton, Joint editor,’Youth Work and Faith :
debates, delights and dilemmas’

3.30 – 4.15 Where Do We Go from Here as a General Election
looms?

In each session the speaker will be looking to catalyse small group discussion.

As for lunch please bring your own as is our custom! Drinks provided.

Conference fee is a minimum of £10 for the waged and £5 for students/ the unwaged.

Directions to Burley at http://www.burleylodge.org.uk/homedir/contactus.htm

To book a place contact Rachel@yasy.co.uk

For more info contact tonymtaylor@gmail.com

March 2015 conference flyer – please print and circulate. Thanks.

Returning to Victorian Values?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been musing on Colin Brent’s criticisms of the Campaign’s overly politicised tone and style. Whilst Colin is at pains to say he does not wish the campaign to be apolitical, he adds, “let’s not bombard people with yet more Politics with a capital P, but rather engage with youth workers around their experiences.” For my part I’m not clear what he means by Political with a big P. However his challenge poses dilemmas in terms of what material we [I] might be posting on these pages. In this respect I have asked that the Steering Group discuss whether we need some collective editorial guidelines to steer my day-to-day maintenance of the IDYW site. Obviously any thoughts from supporters would be most welcome.

In the interim here’s a belated link to a piece in the New Statesman,

We are re-living a traditional Victorian Christmas – of excess for the few and struggle for the many

The rich are getting richer to an extent that is breaking our society – and our economy – apart.

The writer of the piece is  Duncan Exley, the campaign director of One Society and a director of the Equality Trust, the latter set up by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett of The Spirit Level : Why Equality is better for Everyone fame.

‘One Society’ works to promote policy & practice which would reduce excessive income and have benefits for society, businesses & the economy.

Their politics are in my opinion less than radical. They believe in the possibility of a responsible and ethical capitalism. However their emphasis on growing inequality surely touches upon both youth workers’ and young people’s experience of life today.

Thanks to Annette Coburn for the link.

 

Tony Taylor on Politics Reclaimed, Ethics Reframed : Part 2

 

At the IDYW seminar on November 5 Tony Taylor opened the proceedings with a contribution entitled ‘The Flight to Ethics : A Retreat from Politics’.

Lest I be misunderstood before I even begin I have no quarrel with the importance of grappling with ethical dilemmas. It seems to me they haunt practitioners at every turn, especially so perhaps in the current climate of hostility and austerity. However I do not believe these dilemmas can ever be separated from politics. Politics and Ethics are inextricably interrelated.

Before going further I must identify what I mean by ethics and politics. As for the former I can but direct you to Sarah Banks’ opening chapter in ‘Ethical Issues in Youth Work’ [1], where she uses as an exemplar a particular ethical dilemma faced by a youth worker, wondering what to do about knowing that a young person, with whom she was building trust, had stolen from a shop. What was it best to do? What was it necessary to do? In this sense, by and large, ethics focuses on the individual’s struggle to weigh up and balance competing principles, competing pressures from inside and outside of themselves, in the quest to do the ‘right’ thing.

As for politics I mean the question of who holds power and in whose interests they utilise that power. Somewhat unfashionably I want to insist that there is an overarching mode of power, capitalism expressed though the intent and actions of a ruling and dominant class. Now this does not mean I fail to recognise that the imposition of and resistance to power is played out at all manner of levels within society – in the family, in the school, in the pub, in the local community association, in the workplace and so on. Indeed in the late1970’s I was a tutor on a part-time youth work training course, within which the title of one session, borrowed and amended from the Scriptures, was ‘when two or three are gathered together, politics rears its head’. This understanding of the way in which the power relations of class, gender, race and sexuality revealed themselves at the most intimate of moments owed everything to the social movements of that tumultuous period. It was symbolised by the feminist insistence that ‘the personal is political’. We tried to grasp the interrelatedness of the micro and macro in politics through such clumsy formulations as ‘racially structured patriarchal capitalism’. Our efforts owed nothing to the then burgeoning post-modernist view that ‘power is everywhere’ and ‘comes from everywhere’, which strikingly Howard Sercombe draws upon within the chapter on ‘Power’ in his influential ‘Ethics in Youth Work'[2]. Without doubt Foucault is right, if not alone, to see power as diffuse and discursive, but contrary to his theory power is also decisively possessed and concentrated. In my opinion the last three plus decades of neo-liberalism have confirmed the continued existence of capitalism as a totalising, universalising, global mode of power. [3]

 

To read more of his argument that workers must be political as well as ethical, see  the complete contribution below.

The Flight to Ethics : A Retreat from Politics [Open Office/Word]

The Flight to Ethics : A Retreat from Politics [pdf]

The next post on this theme will feature the contribution from Sarah Banks, editor of Ethical Issues in Youth Work, now in its second edition.