Youth services try to mould young people – how about they help young people mould society instead? A view from outside our ranks

Laura Kelly, a Research Fellow and Ellie Munro, a PhD student, both at the University of Birmingham offer an insightful analysis of the present situation facing youth work and youth services. It’s heartening to read such a supportive and informative piece from outside of our own ranks.


Ta to Radical Youth, Notts

Youth services try to mould young people – how about they help young people mould society instead?

Laurie and Ellie conclude:

Under the current government, youth services look set to further embed an emphasis on civic responsibility, while young people’s entitlements – to affordable housing, secure employment and educational and recreational services – are side-lined. And although Labour’s plans may do more to secure funding and embed services in local authorities across England, they will be weakened if youth services are seen only as a tool for shaping law-abiding and employment-ready young people.

A more radical approach to youth work and services would support young people to identify and collectively challenge the factors that threaten their security and well-being. If any future government – Labour, Conservative or otherwise – truly wishes to empower young people, they will have to be bold enough to take a more politicised view of social action and value youth workers as educators and advocates – not just policy instruments.

Choose Youth urges Labour to go statutory in its Manifesto: IDYW to explore what statutory might mean?

choose youth logo

CYPN reports that the Choose Youth coalition, of which IDYW is a member, continues to call on Labour to include a commitment to protect the funding and status of youth services if the party forms the next government.  Its online petition  has gathered 6,520 signatures backing its call for Labour to commit to protecting services. The petition argues,  “By 2015, youth service provision may have disappeared entirely in many parts of the country and could certainly be the first public service to disappear. We know this issue is important to you so please take the lead and ensure that Labour’s commitment to a sufficiently resourced statutory youth service is included in your election manifesto for 2015.”

Full story at ‘Campaigners urge Labour to back statutory youth services in manifesto’.

Meanwhile In Defence of Youth Work, together with Youth & Policy and the University of Birmingham, is organising a day of debate and consultation, Youth & Policy Manifesto for Youth Work Launch and In Defence of Youth Work Practitioner Seminar, on Tuesday, April 21 in the School of Education, University of Birmingham.

This event brings together the two most prominent debates in the youth sector over the last decade regarding: • the defining features and processes of youth work practice; and • the need (or not) for statutory funding of youth services.

More details this week.

After Creative Collisions, Creative Resistance – University of Birmingham, November 7


Simply to confirm that our Creative Resistance seminar will be held in the School of Education, Edgbaston Campus, University of Birmingham on Friday, November 7. Please circulate the flyer. Hope to see you there.




Friday, November 7, 2014 in Room 139, School of Education, University of Birmingham from 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.

On Thursday, November 6 a significant partnership of leading youth organisations, including the NYA, NCVYS, UK Youth, BYC, NUS and NCS, is holding a second Creative Collisions [CC] event in the corporate heart of London, claiming to be uniting the youth sector. The Cabinet Office will be using the conference as the launch pad for its Centre for Youth Impact.

Whilst we remain deeply critical of this partnership’s collusion with the State’s imposed and prescribed outcomes-based agenda we are sensitive to the enormous pressures being placed on agencies, on local authorities, on projects,on managers and on workers to toe the line if they are to secure funding, if they are to survive. In this context we will be attending the CC event to listen, refresh and clarify what we think is going on within youth work and across the youth sector.

Thus on Friday, November 7 we will be holding a complementary happening, where we will report back from London and bring up-to-date our best sense of how we continue to defend a young person-centred, process-led youth work.

The majority of the day will be spent in small groups, where we will encourage participants to explore the constraints and contradictions of their own work settings. Recent feedback indicates that folk cherish the rare opportunity in today’s climate of discussing openly and honestly the ups and downs of their relations with young people. Is creative practice still possible? What might the spaces be for such a practice? What forms might it take? How can we support one another in such a challenging, but risky enterprise? As part of the proceedings we will share the latest news about our second book on Story-Telling as a critical tool of resistance. As ever we will conclude by focusing on the tasks that our Campaign should identify and pursue.

Travel Directions to Edgbaston Campus

Refreshments: Teas and coffees will be provided, but as usual please bring your own butties.

Cost: As for all IDYW events this will be kept low – Students/volunteers/unwaged £2; Waged £7.

To register, email

The flyer for distribution – Creative Resistance