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.


rebel researchers

Message from the Rebel Researchers and Company

In case anyone in London is interested in a free conference:

The University of East London, The Oxford Institute of Social Policy and the Rebel Researchers would like to invite you to a conference at Hub67 to celebrate and motivate


The Conference begins with lunch at 12.30 on the 9th September and then offers presentations and workshops which will demonstrate young people’s civic engagement and provide opportunities to develop ways of encouraging and maintaining youth involvement in communities.

The conference will be fun and fast-moving with young people taking a leading role. There will also be follow up workshops for residents and community groups who want to encourage young people to become involved in activities and decision making – or in finding out what they want from the place they live.

The programme:
12.30 Lunch and registration
13.00 Conference Introduction and presentations by The Rebel Researchers, The Oxford Institute of Social Policy and the University of East London
13.30-14.30 Workshops
14.30-15.30 Coffee
15.30 Plenary – Questions and Answers
16.30 – Networking and forward planning
17.00 Close


For more information on the wonderfully named Rebel Researchers see

Swimming to Save Services in Newcastle : The Latest

Continuing creative resistance to cuts in and closures of public services in Newcastle protesters staged a ‘swim in’ at the much loved City pool – covered here by ITV and by SKY

Credit : ITV

Meanwhile across the city local meetings continue to plan further action. For example last Thursday members of Save our Services met with children and young people from Arthurs Hill in Fenham, who regularly attend play sessions at  the Murray House Recreation centre. Older young people participate in ‘Nightreach’ detached youth work sessions run by youth workers from a voluntary sector youth project in partnership with Newcastle City Youth Service staff. These take place on the nearby New Mills Estate,  where many of them live. This initiative has also led to them developing a boys’ group and a girls’ group. Many also use the nearby Moorside Library for access to books and computers and as a base for homework groups. As of April 1st, if Newcastle City Council’s proposed cuts go through, these services will be deleted leaving young people with nowhere to go, nowhere to socialise and learn within their community.

The children and young people are anxious that their voices are heard.

“Tell everyone around the world to stop all our places getting closed down. This centre- Murray House has loads of people.”
“They are good for your education. Libraries are good for your education and they are shutting them down?!”
“I’m angry for swimming pools they are getting shut down. It’s fun, it’s the only place I go out with the school.”

“It makes us sad, it’s just going to be boring. Our estate is getting dull. It gives us something to do.”

Monday we go with the youth workers then Nunsmoor and Murray House on other nights. If they take it away we don’t have nowhere to go

“They can’t close the libraries because that’s where we go to do our homework cos it’s quiet, and when we are there the older people are there too. They are playing Scrabble.”

Thanks to Stewy Robz for the poster photos

“Don’t Sh Sh us, we want to keep noisy to let people know that Libraries are important and is about to close. Keep the Library OPEN. Protest 10:30am 2nd Feb!”

Everyone is involved in helping to organise the USE YOUR SERVICES DAY OF ACTION on Saturday, 2nd February in Arthurs Hill, Fenham Newcastle around the slogans of SAVE OUR PLAY SERVICE, SAVE OUR YOUTH SERVICE, SAVE MOORSIDE LIBRARY. For more information go to


And for theoretical nourishment to the argument for saving public services, read Roy Ratcliffe’s piece, Defending Public Services.

He argues that “when public sector workers and others are defending the welfare state, education and local government provisions, they are not only defending their own jobs and the services upon which other people rely, they are wittingly or unwittingly defending a potentially valid transitional method of producing goods and services, and should be supported. In this sense, a future post-capitalist mode of production has already been partly revealed or revealed in embryo; by the unintended actions of pro-capitalist governments during the period of late 20th century capitalist post-war reconstruction.”