Archives For Youth Work

Posts relating generally to informal education and working with young people

Long Term Youth Work

25 June 2012 — 7 Comments

In addition to celebrating our 12th Wedding anniversary yesterday, I also had the privilege of Baptising a young man I have worked with for the same amount of time.

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30 May 2012 — 3 Comments

Recently I became aware of a young person in one of our youth groups who was starting to think about their personal preferences. They were exploring their feelings and coming to the conclusion that they might be embracing what could be considered an ‘alternative lifestyle’. This was causing them some concern as they had questions about how their feelings could be reconciled with their Christian faith.

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Well I finally made it to the Youthwork Summit. After 2 years of near misses, it was good to be at the event and participate along with 1,000 other Christian youth workers. The following is some of my notes and observations from the day, but is no means comprehensive. The official summit website will be posting videos of the talks (along with previous years), so keep an eye on that to get a better taster of what it was like.

What is great about the summit is the format. Because everyone only speaks for between 5-15 minutes, and they all cover a diverse range of topics, it means there really is something for everyone.

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18 May 2012 — 1 Comment

Tomorrow morning I’m heading up to the Youthwork Summit, and really looking forward to it! I’ve been following the various tweets today from the early day with Marko and it seems he’s been talking about the importance of belonging for young people.

To sum it up, Neil Fox posted the following from the day:
He [Marko] suggested that teenagers have three developmental priorities Identity, Autonomy and Affinity…

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Ok, so here’s a last minute plug for the Youthwork Summit that’s happening on Saturday.
I’ve already posted about this event, but it’s in 3 days and if you’re not already going you should be!

Dates: Saturday 19th May 2012
Venue: Jesus House, Brent Cross, London
Cost: £30 for the day

At £30 for a full day of creativity and inspiration on a variety of topics related to work with young people, can you afford to miss it?

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Prayer Space

9 May 2012 — 1 Comment

Last week I spent the majority of my time in The Littlehampton Academy, helping to support the Prayer Space that was happening there. I previously blogged about the first prayer space we ran in the school last year, and this was a very similar experience. We again used the resources from Orison, to create an interactive experience encouraging people to engage with prayer using creative, hands on activities. It was set up in the school hall and the young people were guided through four different zones exploring specific prayer-related themes in each one as part of their RE lesson

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A quick plug for the YMCA George Williams College Open Days on 15th June and 13th July 2012.

I would highly recommend the college to anyone interested in becoming qualified as a youth worker or studying related subjects, and there’s some new options this year including an MA in Youth Work. They are only specialist youth work College in the UK with over 40 years experience of delivering training. Programmes include:

  • BA (Hons) available in Youth Work, Community Learning and Development, and Social Pedagogy
  • PGDip/MA in Youth Work and Community Learning and Development (subject to validation)
  • Level 2 and Level 3 courses in Youth Work Practice
  • Certificate in Supervision Studies
  • Global Youth Work short course

You can download the full prospectus in PDF format here. For more info, contact the college on:

YMCA George Williams College
199 Freemasons Road,
London E16 3PY

Tel: 020 7540 4900

One Step Forward

2 April 2012 — 2 Comments

Although not strictly a youth work event, this weekend of personal development is well worth a look!

My church, Arun Community Church, is hosting One Step Forward, A weekend of personal development on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th June 2012. It’s being facilitated by Jim McNeish and the team from Cantle, a Leadership Development Consultancy working predominantly with the boards of multinational organisations. Cantle is based in the Highlands of Scotland on the beautiful banks of Loch Tay.

I’ve been to a number of events led by Jim and his team, and the they never cease to astound me with their humble and incredible knowledge of people and inter-personal relationships. I’ve learnt so much about how I function, and how I can better relate to others through the work that Cantle have done. Using a variety of psychological techniques, but based in natural, everyday interactions from a Christian worldview, Cantle have a way of engaging people and bringing out their best.

Even better, the church is hosting this event for only £20 per person! This is world class personal development coaching for a fraction of the usual price, so if you’re in the South East and can spare the time, I highly recommend coming along. Here’s the info on the content:

Character growth can feel elusive. Bouncing out of the latest conference, we are full of determination for fresh discipline and better relationships. Then Monday comes with its mundane requirements, difficult boss, grey skies and enforced compromises, and before we know it we’ve not only failed in some of our promises but we seem to have taken a step back with some added cynicism or resignation.

The issue here is not what happens – that’s life, but rather how we think about it. We do not develop ourselves in the same way we develop a business plan or a project. It’s not linear. Character growth is seasonal with winters and summers where bits of us die away and then burst into life again with new strength.

ONE STEP FORWARD is about learning how to take ground steadily in our development as we push toward a vision for our lives. Using psychology and creative exercises, you will learn some other ways to think about how you grow as a person.

So what are you waiting for? Book in now as places are limited.

Eventbrite - One Step Forward

Yesterday I spent a fun and thought-provoking day at YMCA George Williams College for the Youth & Policy ‘Thinking Seriously About Youth Work and Policy’ Conference!

The focus of the Conference was to look at youth work in the light of government policy and the implications for the sector. There was a good range of speakers presenting on a variety of subjects and I actually really enjoyed myself (while trying to tweet all the sound bites)! I’ll try and summarise each of the speakers briefly below.

Ian Maerns, Labour MP for Gateshead and member of the government Select Committee on Children & Young People’s Services spent some time explaining the role of the committee and his experiences last year when evidence was being submitted for youth services. He reminded us that the role of the committee is not to set policy but to report to government and make recommendations for them to respond to. He quipped that the current government make a big deal about schooling (free schools, baccalaureate, etc) but know nothing of education. He also questioned the notion that “We’re all in this together” by highlighting the numerous policy changes that have disproportionately effected young people and the vulnerable. He claimed that the language of current government policy is telling: young people themselves are seen as problems. Therefore he concluded that our challenge is to enable young people to reach their maximum potential by breaking down barriers and seeking inclusion.

Garath Symonds, Director of young people’s services for Surrey County Council outlined how Surrey had adapted to funding cuts and policy changes. With a background in youth work, Gareth presented a compelling picture of youth work in the county showing the model they had moved to and the commitment made to front line youth workers. He said they have 36 youth centres with a full-time worker in each as well as another full-time equivalent post of part-timers. The line management of these staff (but not payroll, pension, etc) has been commissioned out to other organisations such as voluntary agencies and a housing association. To cut costs, they made 1 in 3 managers and 1 in 2 admin staff redundant becoming more efficient with software Apps for workers on laptops, tablets, etc. He made an important statement that based on current policy, traditional youth work had no place in the statutory sector, but that Surrey were making it work anyway.
While Garath was applauded for his efforts, there was a sense of concern from people which resonated in the questions to him. He was asked about longevity and sustainability of this model with further policy changes and cuts in future – which i don’t believe he really answered. I came away with a sense that he was committed, but perhaps naive or misguided about the impact he was having locally and nationally. Then again, I’m not in charge of a county youth service so what do I know?!

Fiona Blacke, Chief Executive of the National Youth Agency was a last minute addition to the programme. As I understand it, she couldn’t make the whole day but asked to attend a section and present a short talk regarding the NYA’s role. She took the opportunity to suggest that things for the youth sector were very bleak and because there had been no huge outcry, maybe we like it that way. She criticised the same old people chiming into youth work debates and called for new voices (which I think is happening anyway). Then she explained how the NYA had seen a tough few years which they had inherited due to mismanagement by her predecessor, but the organisation was moving forwards again. This was a particularly astounding thing to say in public as Tom Wylie the previous CEO at the NYA was not only in the room, but had been sitting next to her and helped organise the conference as part of Youth & Policy. It is also not true. While I don’t really know Tom, he was always well regarded at NYA and left the organisation with a healthy bank balance. Since he left, cuts and loss of contracts have dealt the NYA some heavy blows, but to publicly and unsubtly blame him for this was shocking!
Overall the talk was negative and personally motivated. At the end, Bernard Davies stood up and defended Tom, deploring the way Fiona had attacked him. This led to much discussion and debate as the conference broke for lunch. Fiona left during the break and so we were not able to question her.

After lunch Paul Oginsky, advisor to the government on youth, Spoke about the importance of personal and social development for young people. He explained there were far too many terms and approaches for this type of work and there is a need for a common language to help policy makers and managers who are commissioning these services. He went on to talk about the model he has developed for personal and social development, and how the National Citizen Service (NCS) is part of this. His goal is to get young people empowered as active citizens.

I’m pretty sceptical of the National Citizen Service as an idea, and Paul didn’t convince me on it. But he was far more engaging and passionate on his ideas than I was expecting, and I found myself admiring his positivity towards engaging young people. He was questioned quite a lot and it was clear that many in the room are against the NCS, but generally he took the criticism well and tried to respond to points raised.

The next session was broken into workshops. I went to one on the role of faith hosted by Nigel Pimlott. While there was good discussion, the session was too short to really get into anything.

Finally, there was a panel discussion with Bernard Davies (IDYW), Lesley Buckland (YMCA George Williams College), and myself. We each presented a few thoughts on the day before opening up to the audience. Bernard spoke on the values of the In Defence campaign and the need to critically scrutinise government policy. He outlined the dangerous trends occurring with our Coalition government and urged action from practitioners – a theme that had come up a number of times during the day. I found myself agreeing with Bernard on many points (at the risk of being called a grumpy old man) and talked about policy implication for practice. At least I think I did! Lesley made a stand for professional values and called out the occasions during the day when ‘professionals’ had taken verbal swipes at others. She also echoed Bernard on asking for the field of youth work to stand up for itself and others.

In all it was a good day and a quiet triumph for the In Defence of Youth Work Campaign. Although IDYW was mentioned a few times, it was the not a big focus of the day. However, their description of youth work and the general values they stand seemed to come through in much of the discussions.

I came away with a greater sense of urgency to stand up for young people and positive work with young people in the light of policy direction.

Did you go? What did you make of it?

This week I’ve been talking with Youthforce, a national training provider, about accessing their accredited youth work courses for free!

I get asked a lot about training and qualifications in youth work, particularly from those in the voluntary sector who are looking to develop or enhance their skills. I’ve also got a number of long-term volunteers who are now looking to maybe get into working with young people as a profession. Although it may be a bad time for youth work in the UK, there are still opportunities out there and I’m really excited about working with Youthforce to get people trained.

Youthforce are based down the road from me in Hove, but are dedicated to developing people in the UK and globally. They provide accredited and non-accredited courses for professionals in the public sector, and also train and mentor leaders and employees in the private sector too. Crucially for me, many of their trainers come from a youth work background and the whole organisation understands the youth work sector well. From their website:

If you are interested in undertaking an apprenticeship or a qualification in the field of Youth Work, Mentoring or Sports & Active Leisure then Youthforce can provide a valuable training experience. Many courses are fully funded.Youthforce is able to take on individual students as well as full cohorts of learners nationally. With professional and dedicated trainers based in all areas of England, this opportunity is truly great value! With this opportunity Youthforce is also pleased to launch the Level 1 qualifications, an exciting addition to our eclectic qualification portfolio.

They are currently recruiting people for the Level 1 Certificate: Introduction to Youth Work Level 2 Certificate: Youth Work Practice, and Level 3 Diploma: Youth Work Practice among others. The criteria for each course is different, so click through to see which is most appropriate for your needs. For those employed to do youth work (even an hour a week), and who don’t have any previous Level 2 qualifications (e.g. VRQ/NVQ, etc), the Level 2 or 3 training may be totally FREE! (It looks like I might be able to get three volunteers qualified at Level 3 at no cost.)

If you’re interested, each level involves building a portfolio of work/evidence through an online access point and meeting together either regular evenings or weekends (e.g. the Level 3 Diploma is around 16 days or 32 evenings over a 9 month period).

Level 2 is designed to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills required to competently fulfil the role of Assistant Youth Support Worker. It’s suitable for participants looking to develop their skills and practice in working with young people enabling participants to link theory with practice whilst providing a dynamic and enriching learning experience. It has been designed to develop the skills and knowledge needed to work with young people in a Youth Work setting. Participants should have already completed an introductory level qualification in a relevant field and/or gained relevant experience of working with young people. Participants must be working directly with young people between the ages of 11 – 25 regularly with at least 50% of the practise being with 13 – 19 year olds. Learners who achieve the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Youth Work Practice may wish to progress onto ABC Level 3 Awards/Certificates/Diploma. Click for Course Outline

Level 3 is designed to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills that are needed to competently fulfil the role of Youth Support Worker. This diploma is recognised as a pre-professional qualification that qualifies workers to supervise small teams of sessional staff. It is essential that participants are regularly working directly with young people between the ages of 11 – 25 with at least 50% of the practise with 13 – 19 year olds. Learners should ideally have completed a level 2 qualification in youth work and/or have significant experience in a youth work setting. Learners need to have access to the real work environment.  Click for Course Outline

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and sign yourself or your staff and volunteers up for the training. The deadline for some of the funding is March the 31st so you’d better be quick!