IS THE TIDE TURNING? A SUMMARY OF CONSENSUS AND CONCERN

 

Y&P1

Tania, Bernard, Tony and Kev present the summary in Leeds. It has been revised as below in the light of the debate

 

You will find below our summary of the diverse discussion that has taken place around the question of whether the youth work tide is turning. Events were held in Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff, Cumbria, Derby, Doncaster, Huddersfield, Lancaster, London Manchester, Northampton and Warwickshire. We hope you will find it stimulating and useful.  In particular, we hope it will encourage you to be with us at our national conference on Friday, March 9 in Birmingham. If this is not possible, we would still welcome your critical thoughts.

 

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ta to repeatingislands.com

 

IS THE TIDE TURNING? A DRAFT SUMMARY OF CONSENSUS AND CONCERN

‘No More Hot Dogs! We deserve better food!’ [Young People’s group, Northampton]

In and around Youth Work Week 2017, In Defence of Youth Work [IDYW] organised in partnership with a range of other organisations and institutions a series of events entitled, ‘Is the tide turning?’ These gatherings, comprising differing numbers of volunteers, workers, managers, students, academics and young people, sought to grapple with the question of whether a new political climate, perhaps more favourable to youth work, was emerging. Over 250 people were involved in the process.

Inevitably the discussions were haunted by the past and continued dismembering of Local Authority [LA] youth services, accompanied by widespread accommodation to government diktat, whilst at one and the same time being informed by innovative efforts to keep informal youth work alive.

Against this rich backcloth of commentary on the present state of play, this paper marks another stage in the attempt to identify a set of proposals for the future, which could be used in dialogue with what we term the progressive wing of British politics, those parties indicating a willingness to ditch neoliberalism and austerity – the Labour Party, the Greens, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and increasingly the Liberal Democrats. By neoliberalism, we mean the forcible imposition of market relations upon public services, an unswerving belief in the imperative of competition and self-centred individualism, underpinned by a deep-seated hostility to social solidarity. In our opinion these fundamentals of neoliberalism are utterly at odds with a young person-centred, process-led, cooperative and collective youth work.

The following is a second draft, following further exploration at a February Youth&Policy conference in Leeds, which will be taken to the ninth IDYW national conference at the beginning of March. The responses to the key questions posed are divided into those of possible consensus and those of potential contradiction.

It is important to emphasise that this summary is our best effort at capturing in a concise form the main elements of the debate. It does not represent in some way an In Defence of Youth Work position. It represents the material that has to be taken into account if IDYW is to formulate a clear and cutting perspective of its own. Indeed our national conference will be asked directly to grapple with the question of whether IDYW is capable of doing so.

 

Should Local Authority youth services be reopened, or are there different ways that state-supported youth work can be organised?

We should note that several groups felt that the question ought to have been ‘Should Local Authority youth services be reopened and are there different ways that state-supported youth work can be organised?’

Points of consensus:

  • There is significant support for the reawakening of youth work within Local Authorities, which is not necessarily the same as the reopening of the Local Authority youth service. The rejuvenation of a distinctive, state-supported youth work focused on inclusive, open access provision in centres and on the streets, together with targeted interventions emerging from this provision, is seen as flowing from a radical and complementary partnership between the local authority and a diverse and pluralist voluntary sector. There is no question of returning to what went before.
  • The specific character of the provision should be decided at a local level via ways of organising that eschew the hierarchy and bureaucracy often associated with LA Youth Services, insisting on the democratic involvement of young people and the community, alongside politicians, officers, workers and, very importantly, representatives from the voluntary youth sector with status and ‘clout’.
  • Inter-agency working is seen as vital. However youth workers should retain their independence rather than being absorbed into inter-agency teams/schools/youth justice with a subsequent loss of identity. A community development approach is seen as important.
  • It is recognised that we need to explore the success or otherwise of alternative models of provision born out of the demolition of LA Youth Services, such as mutuals, foundations and youth boards, the role of Town and Parish councils, not forgetting the reasons for survival of some Youth Services, such as Nottinghamshire. IDYW is at present collecting a range of case studies to inform this exploration.
  • Youth Work as informal education should return to its home in the Department of Education.
  • Even as Brexit looms youth work should increasingly have an international and global dimension.
  • More action research needs to be done on the emergence of digital youth work.

Points of concern and contradiction:

  • There is concern that there is no turning back, the shifts and changes, the loss of buildings precluding a renaissance.
  • There is anxiety and suspicion about a possible return to Local Authority regulation and dominance. For example the growth in recent years of a vibrant LBTQ network owes much to its independence from the stifling ‘new managerialism’, often dominant in LA’s.
  • There is a feeling that youth work’s identity has been eroded to the extent that we now describe in our anxiety more or less any form of work with young people as youth work. The case for youth work as a distinctive practice is being weakened by the understandable shift in recent years to ‘blurring the boundaries’ between it and, for example, youth social work, youth justice, pastoral care and youth counselling.

 

What principles should underpin the revival of open youth work?

Points of consensus:

  • The IDYW cornerstones of practice are seen as a sound basis, namely the primacy of the voluntary relationship; a critical dialogue starting from young people’s agendas; support for young people’s autonomous activity; engaging with the ‘here and now’; the nurturing of young people-led democracy; and the significance of the skilled, improvisatory worker.
  • Open youth work should be universal, accessible and inclusive, which does not mean that, for example, specific work with young women, BME and LGBTQ young people is at odds with this principle. It should be associational, conversational and relational, opposed to oppression and exploitation, collective rather than individual in its intent.
  • Ironically it needs to be understood that open access, universal provision is more effective than imposed, targeted work in reaching young people, suffering from the consequences of social policies antagonistic to their needs.
  • It needs to be recognised that youth work outcomes are complex and longitudinal as well as simple and immediate. This is the context, within which questions of impact, measurement and judgement need to be debated.
  • Youth Work’s fundamental aspiration is profoundly educational and political – to play its part in the nurturing of the questioning, compassionate young citizen, whose existence is essential to democracy and the common good.

Points of concern and contradiction:

  • Today’s emphasis on ‘safe spaces’ is in tension with ‘taking risks’, threatening to sanitise practice.
  • The dominant tendency to claim that youth work is preventative, for example, reducing anti-social behaviour, together with the attempted monetisation of its interventions, undermines the educational ethos of practice.
  • The standards for youth workers recently circulated by the NYA with their emphasis on behaviours, structured programmes and activities lacks any recognition of the improvised, conversational practice at the heart of open youth work.
  • A significant number of workers have embraced rather than resisted both a behavioural, individualised practice and been seduced by the attraction of structured day-time employment. Is the tradition of improvisatory youth work being fatally undermined?
  • Given limited resources, some voices within the debate argue for prioritising the needs of the vulnerable rather than reasserting the universal.

 

How can these changes be made feasible in terms of funding, infrastructure and staffing?

Points of consensus:

  • There is strong support for a statutory and sustained stream of central and local government funding, informed by a formula based on a specified age range with weightings for disadvantage/deprivation. However both the age range and the character of the weightings needs further debate. In terms of the former, arguments are made to reduce the lower age to 9/10 years old, the upper age to 25.
  • However, the purpose and allocation of this funding should be decided at a local level through democratic mechanisms, which favour cooperation rather than competition in terms of distribution and which identify processes of accountability, which value the qualitative above the quantitative.
  • The National Citizen Service should be cut or even closed and its funding ploughed into all-year round youth work, which might well include summer activities and residentials.
  • Dedicated young people’s spaces are vital, within which dissent is valued. Street work should be expanded. Mobile resources should be developed, particularly in rural areas.
  • JNC terms and conditions should return to being the foundation for workers employed by local authorities. Youth Work should be reasserted as a profession in its own right.
  • Training and continuous professional development at a Local Authority level is essential and again should be open to significant local influence. Level One to Three training course with flexibility in terms of the curriculum should be available to both paid and voluntary workers from all youth organisations in an authority. Confident, skilled workers are crucial.
  • Supervision of workers should be prioritised as the creative means through which practice is interpreted, enhanced and judged.
  • The revival of staff meetings as a collective and supportive reference point is vital.
  • Much closer links should be built with the youth work training agencies, regional youth work units and research centres, including the Centre for Youth Impact, whilst the NYA should reassert its role as a national, critical youth work voice.
  • The renewed local authority youth service in its plurality and totality should have a public relations strategy aimed at the wider community and politicians.

Points of concern and contradiction:

  • There is a real danger of underestimating the damage done to the infrastructure and morale of workers by the prolonged assault on youth services across the country. In some areas workers are reduced to ’fire-fighting and crisis intervention’.
  • The ‘ metric’ world of commissioning, outsourcing and competition, the insidious presence of the market within the work, is seen as simply normal.
  • The insistence on JNC as the reference for qualification, pay and conditions, together with the notion of a closed profession [the license to practice] sit uneasily with the past and present situation, whereby in reality a range of pay scales and qualifications are to be found, together with a host of experienced and capable voluntary and paid workers from other backgrounds.
  • Insufficient attention has been given to the role of supposed philanthropy in the creation of provision, witness the Onside Youth Zones initiative, funded by a mix of private and state finance, which advocates for open youth work, even though it emerges on the back of closures and cuts.

 

There are no conclusions to this summary as it remains the subject of continued debate. Indeed, separate from how it might be used within IDYW, we think it has merit as a catalyst for discussion in all manner of youth work situations, from team meetings to training courses.

However, from an IDYW point of view, we hope that it will stimulate the reader to attend our national conference or failing that to send any thoughts/ criticisms to Tony Taylor at tonymtaylor@gmail.com

 

The IDYW tide turning Y&P 2nd draft in Word for printing/circulating. Thanks.

 

‘Crouch dismisses call for NCS to be evaluated against traditional youth services’ reports CYPN

Joe Lepper in Children and Young People Now [CYPN] reports that:

 

Crouch

Tracy Crouch – thanks to womenofrubies.com

 

Youth minister Tracey Crouch has rejected calls for the effectiveness of the government’s flagship National Citizen Service (NCS) to be compared with traditional youth services.

Speaking in parliament, Labour’s shadow youth minister Steve Reed asked whether the government would “widen the scope” of the annual independent evaluation of the National Citizen Service (NCS) in order to “make comparisons with other youth programmes with similar aims to NCS”.

But Crouch rejected the idea, adding that the government is already supporting efforts to improve evaluation of wider youth work.

This includes funding for the Centre for Youth Impact, a social enterprise that aims to improve how the youth sector measures its effectiveness.

“The youth sector evidence base is not yet sufficiently developed to enable robust comparison between different programmes,” she said.

In a riposte, Joe quotes yours truly.

20170317-_DSC1346

Tony Taylor, co-ordinator of campaign group In Defence of Youth Work, said it is “absurd” to scrutinise the National Citizen Service in isolation from the diversity of continuing youth provision.

“Contrary to the claim that there is no evidence base to inform a thorough-going evaluation of practice, a range of insightful research is available, the latest being the 2017 Anu Gretschel report on the impact of International Youth Work,” Taylor said.

“However, this body of knowledge has been wilfully ignored. Its qualitative perspective is utterly at odds with the government’s neoliberal obsession with measuring the immeasurable.

“Though we do not think the way forward lies in some sort of crude, comparative exercise. As of now, we see a strong case for using the funding – some £400m – that could be saved from a reduction by a third in NCS’s recruitment target up to 2020/21 to reinstate the nearly £390m cut in youth service spending since 2010.

“The urgent longer-term need is for an independent inquiry into the present state of youth work in its entirety, premised on a renewed understanding of youth work as a distinctive educational practice rooted in voluntary relationships with young people forged outside of formal institutions and agencies.”

Read in full at Crouch dismisses call

 

Is the tide turning? IDYW 9th national conference, March 9 – book your place

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THE NINTH IDYW NATIONAL CONFERENCE
FRIDAY, MARCH 9 at THE BIRMINGHAM SETTLEMENT, ASTON

‘Swimming with or against a turning tide? Where should youth work be heading?’

Towards the end of last year a series of regional ‘Is the tide turning?’ events were held around the country. As a result, we are attempting to draw out of these diverse discussions a coherent set of proposals and demands that might be put to what we see as the progressive wing of British politics, those parties willing to ditch the damaging legacy of neoliberalism – namely Labour, the Greens, the Scottish Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru and increasingly the Liberal Democrats. The conference will be our collective opportunity to debate and revise both the purpose and content of such a policy paper. As last year we are organising on the basis that the starting time will help those travelling longer distances and that you will have consumed your lunch in advance.

PROGRAMME
12.00 Arrivals, socialising – drinks available. Participants responsible for own lunch.
12.30 Welcome, housekeeping
12.45 – 1.05 Presentation of the major themes in our draft set of proposals. These will have been circulated in advance.
1.05 – 2.00 Small group discussion about and responses to the proposals
2.00 – 2.15 Break
2.15 – 3.00 Implications for the workforce with UNISON, UNITE and the Institute for Youth Work
3.00 – 4.00 Implications for the purpose and culture of youth work practice with Centre for Youth Impact, Training Agencies Group and National Youth Agency
4.00 – 4.15 Break
4.15 – 5.00 Final session, initially in small groups: ‘What might we do next?’

Cost will be £10 minimum waged, £5 student/unwaged – payable on the day
To book a place contact Rachel at info.IDYW@gmail.com

We hope you will join us in the supportive and reflective atmosphere, which over the years has characterised IDYW debates.

 

 

Birmingham : ‘Catastrophic Cuts’ warns Chief Executive

A few weeks ago I started to write something about my sense of a  youth sector, which seems to inhabit parallel universes, one in which smug ‘selfies’ with Tory Ministers circulate, whilst in the other the Tories’ assault on youth work not of its liking continues unabated.  As I collect material on this phenomenon the task is getting out of hand. Perhaps, for what it’s worth, it will see the light of day in the New Year. In the meantime I’ll post some of the ‘cuttings’ informing my ruminations.

Birmingham council chief: years of cuts could have catastrophic consequences

brummies

Mark Rogers, who runs the biggest council in England, said the effects of six years of austerity meant Birmingham’s youth service had “all but gone”, homelessness prevention services had been cut by so much that rough sleeping had quadrupled, and far fewer elderly people were eligible for care at home.

The council has almost halved its headcount since 2008, from around 24,000 to 12,500, and says staff numbers could be as low as 8,000 by 2020. By that point the council will have made £800m worth of cuts since the era of austerity began in 2010, and expects to have lost 50% of its grant from central government.

Rogers also highlighted cuts to council youth services. “The youth service has all but gone. In 2010 it would have been seen as one of the exemplar programmes in the country, we would have had dozens of youth services. Now we have just two youth centres, with the possibility of further reduction.”

Read in full on the Guardian link highlighted above.

Covering over the cracks continued – from Youth Work to Family Well-Being

Following upon Bernard’s criticism of the CYPN ‘evolution of youth work’article, its shallow attempt to suggest that somehow the assault on youth work is not so bad really, I’m copying a revealing exchange from our Facebook page. This conversation was sparked by the following question:

family-network

Ta to dudleycypfnetwork.net

I have asked this question before, but I would like to hear again, as Lancashire moves it’s Young People’s Service and SureStart into a combined ‘Well-being, Prevention and Early Help [WBPEH] Service’. We will be case workers working with families who will be put through he Common Assessment Framework [CAF] as a condition of accessing the service. A caseload of 20 per full time post with 12 weeks to work with each family. All outcomes must meet Troubled Families Unit [TFU] criteria to pull down funding. Plus targeted group work with young people and parents in the evenings. this is what the Level 1 workers ( soon to be Grade 4 NJC) will be doing if on evening posts.
Are you working this way already?
What is the reality?
What is it like to manage workers doing this role?
What are the positives if any?
Have you been able to manage in a democratic way, given the inherently target based approach?
Can you retain the values and empathy of the youth work role?

Oh yes, and did I mention that open youth work would be minimal or non-existent? No? sorry, just assumed everyone took that as read…..

These are but some of the responses, which reflect the shifting priorities and dilemmas on the ground and the continuing integration, even disappearance of youth services/youth work. These scenarios are skated over in much of the debate about whether boundaries should or should not be blurred.

Check out Leicestershire County Council’s model. Sounds exactly the same but did this over 4/5 years ago. The merge was depressing, the youth work became very diluted. Ultimately it is social work but on a very low wage.  I now work in the voluntary sector

I’m Leicester City. We parted company with the CAF process about two years ago and moved towards an integrated early help/targeted youth support model at around the same time. Our full time workers and senior youth support workers are expected to carry a case load of Targeted Youth Support work as well as maintain delivery of open access youth provision or street based work. We’re about to enter into another ‘remodelling’ exercise which is likely to move us further along the road towards a social work lite approach to work with young people. We’re also part way through a process of closing down significant numbers of our youth centres and children centres. Indications are that the focus will be on more generic family support in the future. Crock of proverbial shit and precious little recognition of or support for any kind of critical pedagogy.

Qualification is an issue. As a Community & Youth Worker who has worked closely with Social Workers, I know enough to know that I am not a Social Worker. As mentioned above – deprofessionalisation. I have also worked with generic ‘children’s services’ – and Social Work training is not a suitable background for Informal Education or a group/community approach to intervention. Even superficial similarities can be misleading, with terminology having different assumptions & professional models behind them. I would hope to see ‘conversion’ courses – at PGC to Masters level – for people who already have appropriate Professional qualifications; but I suspect that this will not happen.

I’m in that camp, might as well get a Social Work degree and get paid 5k more. I don’t agree that youth work cannot do same job. I believe our training is better able to tackle social problems inside and outside the home. There are just different forms and approaches!! The danger is the criticism the Youth Work heard about Social Work not being present, available, being human – is that the pressure will turn our services into the same quick fix programme.

There’s no ‘community’ in our practice in Leicester City now. The community development element of our role has been sacrificed in order to free up more capacity to carry ever increasing case loads of Targeted Youth interventions! Since we moved to an early help model, we have no senior management who come from an educational background, informal or otherwise.

Sadly that mirrors the reality of many parts of the country. The first head of the combined ‘Children’s Services’ in one County seemed to enjoy going round meetings telling people the there was no such thing as a ‘Youth Service’.

Caseload of 20! That’ll last about a month. I don’t know anyone in children’s services with less than 35 and most working 40-50. The ideology is corrupt at its base and the methodology employed crap. The reason young people in these programmes and in care for that matter continue to have poorer outcomes is that those working with them are manacled to Key Performance Indicators that have a higher priority than furthering the education and options of the individual they are working with. Following procedure is the mantra, doing what is right for that young people in that place at that time has no credence whatsoever, even if it is agreed, if it’s not in the playbook it’s not allowed to happen, if it is allowed to happen it has to go through 19 layers of bureaucracy by which time the moment is lost and circumstances changed so it becomes irrelevant.

We’ve both worked for the same service for a long time – we are professionally qualified & anything under grade 7 NJC isn’t – we all have transferable skills to do the job – the question is do you want to? Caseloads, line management as a senior practitioner at grade 8 should be you target if you feel you can go forward with the WPEHS – for me it’s not just about paying the bills it vocational as I volunteered for 7 years – I love my job as a youth worker & agree with the above I never wanted to be a social worker & clearly the path to integrated social care is pending –

We still have the semblance of voluntary engagement in our service but this is becoming increasingly tenuous and I would be surprised if this survives the next round of remodelling and reviews and once this has gone, it just ain’t youth work in my view!

The only way to stop Youth Work from disintegrating is to forget informal education and go into desistance theory models. With academization the Education route is over. Youth Work is going to be a useful arm to any service, as we are the profession who knows young people best. The best chance of keeping open access Youth Work is through cosying up to the Youth Justice Board model.

Youth Justice Board don’t do it for me, rather cut loose if that’s all that’s on offer! We are still putting up a fight through my union in Leicester 😉

Quick note to say we need a post on desistance theory, which crudely is about the how young people, in this case, might be encouraged to cease being criminal or more broadly anti-social.

 

 

 

Protecting the Youth Service in Wales : Labour Manifesto Meetings

welsh Labour

Message from Pete Sims

 Please see below. You will see that the Labour Party are currently consulting to include (or not) the Youth Service as a protected service in the Welsh Policy Manifesto. Therefore, if you live in Wales or know anyone that does, I urge you to please contact your CLP’s, MP’s etc to have your views heard and increase the pressure in Wales to protect this vital service. The meeting below is just an example of  CLP policy meetings being held across Wales. It is the second question that obviously refers to our work. I am obviously making my voice and opinions heard.

Dear Friend,

POLICY FORUM

Saturday 3 October 2015, Sir Owen Thomas Community Room, Holyhead

10.00 am (for coffee and croissants!!!), 10.30 am (discussions start)

Come along and let us know what you think about some key proposals which are likely to feature in Welsh Labour’s manifesto. Here are some of the issues that were raised during the recent Welsh Labour consultation, and to which we hope to contribute:

How important is it that we introduce a strong ethical dimension for businesses looking to win contracts with the public sector in Wales? Should apprenticeship guarantees be included? Local social responsibility? What do you think?
Should the Youth Service be included within the “protected” Education budget in Wales to give young people the right balance between formal and social education?
“Workfare” programmes are unlikely to be devolved to Wales in the near future. What policies could the next Welsh Labour Government introduce which would mitigate the adverse impacts of “workfare” under the Westminster Government’s welfare reforms?
What can we do to avoid paying excessive fees to Teacher Supply Agencies and to improve the workings of the Supply Teacher system?

We also aim to look at some of the key issues raised recently. See here http://www.walesyouwant.wales/

Looking forward to hearing your ideas on the 3rd!

Best wishes,

David Phillips

CLP Policy Officer

Whatever happened to the Youth Service? Bernard Davies critically reflects.

Bernard chats with Malcolm Ball at the 2015 Conference

Bernard chats with Malcolm Ball at the 2015 Conference

This week we are posting two intertwined and perhaps controversial pieces, born of the IDYW Seminar, ‘Creating a Vision’ held on June 22 in Manchester. In the first Bernard Davies, youth work’s leading historian, reflects critically on the development and demise of the Youth Service.

Preamble
What follows is a write-up of an input made at the Birmingham University/IDYW practitioner seminar, ‘Creating a vision of “public money” and youth work’, held last month in Manchester. Its aim was to offer a critical look at the development of the local authority Youth Service since its creation, as context for the debate which Ian McGimpsey prompted at the event on ‘public money’, what exactly this might mean and whether and how it might act as an alternative route to funding for open access youth work.

Within its argument Bernard notes:

As early as 1980 I thus found myself pointing to limiting organisational features affecting youth work which included:

  • A trend ‘to incorporate youth work even more tightly into the burgeoning local government structures’ which, ‘far from releasing (its) imagination, flair and dynamism, ensured that it was even more subject to the often stifling controls of local bureaucracy and corporate management’.
  • Staff (who) were being cast in the role of local authority officials’.
  • ‘… a greater stress on accountability – not just for money but also for philosophies, purposes and methods’ – with the result that youth work was in danger of being ‘set in a rigid pattern of quite formalised programmes’
  • ‘… expensive buildings requiring maintenance, protection and heating as well as staffing’ which not only ate up substantial amounts of the (often reducing) funding available but limited youth work’s capacity to move with young people as they changed their ‘territory’ or to develop alternative approaches and methodologies as their needs and expectations changed.
  • Even then, policy shifts which, if they were to get financial support, left voluntary organisations ‘dependent on a number of restrictive conditions’.1

He concludes:

None of this is of course to dismiss local authority Youth Services as total failures. Close examination of youth work’s situation immediately pre-Albemarle has shown that without the Committee’s often, for its time, imaginative and relatively radical prescriptions, state-sponsored youth work could easily have withered away altogether. In part at least Ministry civil servants were prompted to set up the Committee by their conclusion that leisure-time provision for young people which was wholly or largely dependent on the voluntary sector as then constituted was unlikely to appeal to the ‘new’ 1960s teenage generation1 – a view which, in its own typically tactful way, Albemarle itself confirmed.2 Moreover, given the ‘social democratic consensus’ that existed at the time, it was taken as a given across the political spectrum that, if youth work was not just to survive but to develop further, the state needed to intervene in decisive ways.3

What such arguments do not consider however is the appropriateness for this somewhat maverick field of practice of the form of statutory intervention which came out of Albemarle and the structures it generated. In the context of the growing vacuum opened up by the Coalition’s destructive policies, questions for youth work specifically which in the past have been missed or even avoided need now therefore to be faced head on. Such as:

  • How and where have local authority Youth Service structures impeded rather than supported and liberated what is distinctive about the way youth workers practise?
  • How can those structures be rethought and redesigned so that in particular more bottom-up influences (from both young people and front-line workers) can help shape what happens, and how?
  • How can and should funding be made available and distributed for that distinctive practice?
  • What processes can be devised to account for the use of these resources which are congruent with that practice?

This is very far from an exhaustive list – so please add your own questions to it.

Postscript

In the present crisis, criticising what we don’t like about what has happened and what’s happening now is much the easiest part of the struggle to defend youth work. The much harder task is to focus on possible positive strategies (however long-term) for creating alternatives. This is certainly why I hope the debate on the notion of ‘public’ funding for youth work introduced by Ian McGimpsey at the Manchester event will continue.

I have to admit however that, pie-in-the-sky though it may seem at this dire neo-liberal, anti-statist moment which has all but killed off the Youth Service, I’m not yet ready to give up completely on the notion of state funding for youth work. I see it as important at least to explore whether different forms of and routes to this which ‘fit’ with the practice can be re-imagined. This is a search in which I hope IDYW will be involved in the coming months – and to which I will try to contribute.

READ IN FULL with references at Whatever Happened to the Youth Service?

Ian McGimpsey’s thoughts on public money will appear on Friday.