Defending Youth Work

9 March 2009 — 6 Comments

They’ve Chained Nature, but They Will Never Make It Sing
Following on from my post about a division in youth work, I’ve come across a group of workers who strongly articulate the need for a return to traditional youth work values. So much so that they have written up a paper titled “In Defense of Youth Work”. Read the blog post here and download the document.

With Blair and Brown at the helm youth workers and managers have been coerced and cajoled into embracing the very antithesis of the Youth Work process: predictable and prescribed outcomes. Possessing no vision of a world beyond the present, New Labour has been obsessed with the micro-management of problematic, often demonised youth. Yearning for a generation stamped with the State’s seal of approval the government has transformed Youth Work into an agency of behavioural modification. It wishes to confine to the scrapbook of history the idea that Youth Work is volatile and voluntary, creative and collective – an association and conversation without guarantees.

They go on from here to outline a manefesto for what youth work should be and urge workers to email and sign up to this “Open Overture”:

If you sympathise with and support the position set out in this Open Letter, we ask you to join with us and sign up to its intent. In doing so, you are not agreeing to some party line. There is so much to think through together. However, in doing so, you are lending your voice to what might be a radical revival of a form of Youth Work that wishes to play its part in the creation of a just, equal and democratic society.

This is bound to cause some controversy, so go make sure you read the whole thing and let me know what you think!

HT to Ian at Youthblog

Jon

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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

6 responses to Defending Youth Work

  1. I have been following this debate with interest in other circles because so much of it chimes with my own concerns. I came across this on the http://www.infed.org.uk site and thought it might help you with your thinking … http://www.infed.org.uk/talkingpoint/retreat_fr

  2. Jon

    Just to say thanks for drawing attention to our Open Letter and thanks to Chris for reminding me of Tony Jeffs' piece on 'Youth Work as a Vocation', which raises all sorts of issues, including the contradictory character of youth work as a profession.

    Support for our stance seems to be growing – so much so that we've created a separate Blog, where we hope to keep people in the picture as to developments. At this moment supporters are pursuing the organisation of regional gatherings. Looks as if the North-East, West Midlands and London are well on the way.

    http://indefenceofyouthwork.wordpress.com

    Best Wishes

    Tony

  3. Thanks Chris and Tony for your comments.

    I'll be keeping an eye on the new blog and will be interested in a regional event. While I agree with the sentiment of defending youth work, I'm not convinced by the aggressive political nature of this campaign. If nothing else though, it is raising awareness of a need to shift back to youth work.

  4. Jon

    Just to say thanks for drawing attention to our Open Letter and thanks to Chris for reminding me of Tony Jeffs' piece on 'Youth Work as a Vocation', which raises all sorts of issues, including the contradictory character of youth work as a profession.

    Support for our stance seems to be growing – so much so that we've created a separate Blog, where we hope to keep people in the picture as to developments. At this moment supporters are pursuing the organisation of regional gatherings. Looks as if the North-East, West Midlands and London are well on the way.

    http://indefenceofyouthwork.wordpress.com

    Best Wishes

    Tony

  5. Thanks Chris and Tony for your comments.

    I'll be keeping an eye on the new blog and will be interested in a regional event. While I agree with the sentiment of defending youth work, I'm not convinced by the aggressive political nature of this campaign. If nothing else though, it is raising awareness of a need to shift back to youth work.

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  1. In Defence of Youth Work Workshop | JonJolly.com - 6 December 2010

    […] around ‘In Defence of Youth Work’. I posted about the ‘in defence’ campaign here and you can follow their new blog here to keep updated on what is […]

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