NHS at 70: Defending the Common Good Together


NHS at 70

Thanks to Sue Atkins for the collage

In our proposal,


our final point signals our solidarity with the struggle to defend the National Health Service on its 70th birthday.

The renaissance we urge hinges on a break from the competitive market and the self-centred individualism of neoliberalism and the [re]creation of a Youth Work dedicated to cooperation and the common good.



A Campaign for Youth Work – new initiative from Jason Pandya-Wood

jason wood

Following a lively debate on our Facebook page, precipitated by the Labour Party leadership contest and the appearance of Jeremy Corbyn’s Better Future for Young People document, Jason Pandya-Wood, Head of Sociology at Nottingham University and co-author of the just published, ‘ Youth Work: Preparation for Practice’, has issued the following open invitation.

Friends, some of us have expressed a desire to build on the great campaign work done by people on this IDYW forum (& elsewhere) to design and act on a new political engagement strategy for investing in youth work. I’m particularly keen to see what we can learn from the successes of broad based community organising (see Citizens UK) and from our collective experiences of political lobbying.

I’d like to invite you to a meeting in Nottingham to start this process.

Please can you indicate ALL dates that you can do in the doodle poll by following this link? Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


Best wishes,

In Defence of Youth Work welcomes Jason’s overture. We believe that it would be a step forward to create a broad and pluralist alliance in support of youth work. We acknowledge that our campaign is perceived by some as too radical in its orientation, whilst ChooseYouth for all its sterling work is identified by others as above all prioritising the profession. Whatever is the case these issues can be talked through together in a spirit of positive dialogue. As we understand it key players such as ChooseYouth, the NYA, NCVYS, UK Youth will be invited to contribute to the exploratory meeting. The Institute of Youth Work has already indicated its support. It would be daft to expect this initial coming together to do more than agree a tentative way forward, but we hope sincerely that this will happen. There is a growing mood of resistance to the consequences of austerity, a resuscitation in a commitment to the common good. In a small, but significant way the proposed meeting is a reflection of this desire. Long may it continue.

Thirty Years On : The Common Good, Youth and Community Workers and the Miners Strike

Ta to lincolnshire echo

Ta to lincolnshire echo

Back in April 1984 the Community and Youth Workers Union [CYWU] to its great credit was one of the first to pledge its support to the Miners’ cause – the defence of their communities. From that moment youth and community workers across the country, not only those from CYWU, threw themselves into the struggle, often being prominent activists in the flourishing network of  Miners Support Groups – picketing, demonstrating, collecting food and donations. The defeat of the miners was a bitter blow and its consequences continue to haunt us today, not least, noting Nigel Pimlott’s thoughts from yesterday, the undermining of a belief in solidarity, a commitment to the common good.

Thirty years on from the end of the dispute I want to pay tribute once more to the epic battle waged by the men and women of the coalfields. And in doing so I want to remember with a smidgin of pride the part played in both Leicestershire and Derbyshire by the youth and community workers in those areas, not forgetting the students of the then Scraptoft College.

Benny Pinnegar in the centre

Benny Pinnegar in the centre

In Leicester one abiding memory is of the smoke-strewn upper room of the Unemployed Workers Centre with the late Benny Pinnegar in his pomp, rebuking mildly the sometimes tedious interventions of earnest revolutionaries, whilst making us all feel part of something much bigger than ourselves, ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’.

miners wives

In Derbyshire I finished up as the Bolsover District Community Education Officer and in time my office was to be found in the Shirebrook old school that had been the food distribution centre for the surrounding pit villages. Through the remarkable efforts of the Derbyshire Miners Wives the school was renovated as the Shirebrook Women’s Centre, complete with nursery.

food parcels

Our team of youth and community education workers became affectionately or infamously known as the ‘Bolsover Bucket Bangers’, probably on account of our obstinate refusal to do as we were told.. I’ve desisted from mentioning names, even though I’d like to, for fear of forgetting folk, but I’ll make one exception in the case of Cliff Williams, at the time the worker at the Pinxton Youth Club. A former miner himself, a Clay Cross rebel councillor and local historian of repute, he was an inspiration to be with, calm yet passionate, a formidable working class intellectual with not the slightest air or grace, loved to pieces by the young people of the district, who knew him. Cliff, if you read this, thanks for being there.

Lest we forget it is well worth reflecting that this was a time when it was taken for granted that politics and youth work were inextricably interrelated. This remains true today. However, even as workers talk about empowerment and votes at 16, they seem often in denial about the political nature of their relationships with young people. And politics is about much, much more than the ballot box. Times though may be a’changin’.

Involving young people: both ‘common’ and ‘good’? Nigel Pimlott reflects


Nigel Pimlott, who is speaking at our forthcoming national conference, has just posted this timely blog on the notion of the ‘common good’ and what it might mean in our work with young people.

He begins,

The common good principle – if it is to stand any chance of being successful – needs to be both ‘common’ and ‘good’.Common in that it involves everybody and good because it necessitates personal circumstances, social conditions and prevailing ideologies that combine to improve people’s best interests, equally to the advantage of all. Whilst I acknowledge this might be simultaneously both stating the obvious and an over-simplistic interpretation of the challenges relating to the common good principle, it is, nonetheless, my starting point for this reflection. My reason for this is because these factors are at risk of being overlooked when it comes to the role, place, and space young people have in contemporary common good discourses.

He identifies five steps we might take in situating the ‘common good’ at the heart of our practice and concludes,

As a closing thought, I add that if we can involve young people in shaping the common good today, then it might be less of a struggle in trying to realise the common good tomorrow. If the common good can become the ‘new normal’ amongst young people then when they grow up to be adults they will have already seen, shaped and got into the habit of living out the principle in ways that are both common and good.

Read in full at Involving young people: both ‘common’ and ‘good’?

Christmas Contradictions – Seasonal Greetings as the Struggle Continues to Defend Youth Work

Christmas as ever a time of contradiction – amongst other things a deeply problematic mix of Christianity and Capitalist Consumerism.

A few images that reflect this contradiction.

Buy a lot










Reason's greetings








Seventy Years On : William Temple, the Welfare State and Youth Work

Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple

Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple

Nigel Pimlott of the Frontier Youth Trust, author of a soon to be published book, ‘Embracing Passion : Christian Youth Work and Politics’  writes:

On Monday, I attended a conference in Manchester that explored the legacy of Archbishop William Temple, seventy years after his death. Entitled ‘Reclaiming the Public Space’ the event explored the role of religion in contemporary public life, asking what role can Christianity – and all faiths – play in developing a just society.

As a reformer, champion of the poor, pursuer of justice, Christian socialist, inclusive practitioner and visionary architect of the modern welfare state I suspect Temple would be horrified about what has happened to the welfare state (and our understanding of ‘welfare’) in recent years.

As the IDYW campaign considers the Early Day Motion about ‘Youth Services’, Temple’s work and legacy offer a timely reminder of what ‘might be’ regarding an approach to contemporary youth work that brings together social concerns and the realities of the modern world.

For example, Temple believed in a collective rationale that bought together people of faith, other individuals, wider communities and the secular state. My own PhD identified the principle of the ‘common good’ as a description for contemporary faith-based youth work and perhaps this collective, common good ideal provides a means for youth work to step forward into the future.

At times in the past my own stance (often unwittingly) has sometimes pitted, for example, faith-based work against work in the wider voluntary sector; voluntary sector work against that provided by Local authorities and the work of bodies like Connexions against more traditional informal education youth work expressions. Maybe the time has come to set aside such divisions and seek more collective resolutions to the challenges we face.

The current challenge is that the common good is now all too often seen through the lens of the market and is consequently at the mercy of the market. Policymakers too readily presume the common good can be found in market approaches to youth work: it can’t. I do not believe the common good can be found in markets alone. Furthermore, I don’t believe the common good can alone be realised by state-provided services, the pursuit of individual rights or the quest of faith-motivated providers like the one I work for. I contend it  can only be realised if all these ‘players’ are brought together to collectively discover what ‘might be’.

As my own reflections and the conference narrative concluded, we need spaces and places to have dialogue, engage in conversation, bring theory and practice together and refresh our understanding so that, as Prof. Craig Calhoun remarked, we move forward in ways that fully embrace the ideal that ‘we matter to one another’. We need to feel strongly enough about each other to demand a redistribution of wealth, power, equality and justice so that all, including young people, benefit.

As someone motivated by faith to do what I do, I aspire to more fully recognise that we do indeed all matter to each other. I consider we become fully human because of our engagements with others. I am biased, but I think re-visiting the work of Temple might prompt us to have more conversations that really matter because we more fully recognise we really do all matter. This will, I believe, support the notion of reclaiming the public space and, in our context, bring about a more positive and collective future for youth work.

We are really grateful for this challenging piece from Nigel and can but encourage all our readers and followers to send in their thoughts about whatever strikes them as pertinent re our campaign to tonymtaylor@gmail.com

For further background on William Temple

‘In 1941 at the height of the Second World War, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, published “Christianity and Social Order”, a book which combined with the Beveridge Report proved influential in shaping the United Kingdom’s welfare state once the war was over.;

– see William Temple – Biography and Christianity and the New Social Order