Youth Forums and Youth Councils

I’ve been thinking about youth councils and youth forums recently and while I could write reams on the subject it’d probably be quite boring. So I’m going to condense the issues into the ‘Good and the Bad’ as I see them, hopefully you’ll then contribute your wisdom and the lists can be distilled into something useful.


Can engage young people in discussion in a way that is appropriate/accessible to them
Means that young people have the possibility of a voice into decisions and organisations
Puts young people into the agenda
Can be an empowering and confidence building experience
Might lead to changes
May attract more representative young people than if they were forced into ‘old school committee’

Are a tacit declaration that the main church/organisation/charity is not prepared to change the way it meets, discusses and organises in order to genuinely involve young people.
Can be tokenistic
Can alienate young people by encouraging contribution but then ignoring it
Does not allow meaningful debate between the Adults and Young People
Even as a dedicated Forum it doesn’t neccessarily attract a representative range of young people

Issues in Youth Ministry

iym.jpgI have now e-mailled Tim my answers to the three questions he is asking Youth Ministers around the world. The questions being:

What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is struggling with today?
What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is responding to effectively?
In what ways does youth ministry need to change?

It’s really interesting to read the range of responses on Tims site, It’s a very useful series that he’s put together.
I’ll publish what I’ve written once Tim has put them on his site but what I’ve written is along the lines of the Sherlock Holmes piece I wrote a couple of years back. I didn’t get any comments when I originally flagged up the questions BUT would still love some thoughts as I’m aware that my answer a subjective response.

West Cornwall Pasty Company

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with youth work, the only connection I can make is that a vexed question arose for one youth worker (me) while eating a Pasty! The question being, how many tasty Pasties a day can a professional Pasty maker make?
west pasty.jpgSome context: A fast food phenomena that is sweeping the UK is The West Cornwall Pasty Company, they have branches springing up overnight (it seems) everywhere. We have one in Newbury and one in Oxford, it’s fair to say they are purveyors of VERY fine Pasties indeed. Anyway, munching on my Pasty yesterday I noted that the bag bore the proud tag line, “Traditional Pasty’s, Handmade in Cornwall!” Hence the question?

(I think I’ve worked out an answer. They sell over 6 million Pasties a year with a workforce of 400. I reckon that three quarters or these must be employed at branch level, management and distribution leaving about 100 people to produce 60, 000 Pasties a year each!)

Why does my mind get pre-occupied with obscure questions? (or is this an obscure question?)

Blathering about mp3 but wanting help with Camcorders

mp3 is a fantastic invention (I mean the players as well) and as inventions go, ranks right up there with Pizza, bicycles, gravity and instant coffee as far as I’m concerned. Despite me having a terrible horrible no good very bad journey this morning, I did at least have the mp3 widget playing throughy the car stereo. I love the ‘shuffle’ setting, just enjoying the random uncertainty of “What’s next?” This morning I ended up with:
‘Baby I don’t Care’ Transvision vamp
‘Rock me Gently’ Andy Kim
‘All revved up’ Meatloaf
‘Don’t have to tell you why’ Bruce Cockburn
‘All star’ Smash Mouth
‘Ride of the Valkyries’ Wagner
‘American Pie’ Don Mclean
‘Angel of Harlem’ U2
‘Angel Eyes (Techno remix)’ Abba
‘Back of my Hand’ The Jags

And now by virtue of the genius that is the internet you can be sitting at your computer saying, “COOL!” or “NOOOOOO!” to this snapshot of my musical taste or lack thereof 🙂
Now onto the reason that started my blathering about inventions, “Camcorders?” I know NOTHING! I have been given the go ahead to get one for work and really want to use it for Vox Pops type stuff so that young people’s voices can be more easily included into training and the like. If you are a black belt in the art of the video then could you help me thusly ….
Best model at about £400 – £450 ish that has GOOD sound quality and comes with great but usable editting software? What other issues do I need to be aware of? What things do I need to avoid? Wisdom pleeeez?
*btw, I’m trying to work out what the person on the screen in the picture is actually doing? It looks like the’ve dressed up in a purple sheet and are pretending to drive a car? weird

For the thousandth time

Well this is the one thousandth YOUTHBLOG post and I guess that calls for a bit of celebration, so pop a spoonful of real coffee in with the Decaf, open the Jammy Dodgers and then digest some of the typically pseudo-useful nonesense that is splurged here in support of youth ministry.
Here’s the stuff that’s blipped maggot like across the radar screen in the last few days:
Training and development
The Centre for Youth Ministry is holding two sessions at St John’s College on Wednesday 6 December. Both run from 10.30 am – 3.30 pm. ‘Funding – is it a lottery?‘ will be a practical session led by Nigel Pimlott. ‘Passion, Professionalism and Priorities: ‘Youth Ministry in the 21st Century…?’ will be a consultation with Iain Hoskins. E-mail for details.
The Spectrum conference for Youth work trainers is on the 15th-17th Jan. Oh and a special message to everyone who is telling me they WILL be going to Matrix …….. YOU WON’T BE UNLESS YOU GET ON AND ACTUALLY BOOK IT 🙂
Also, were you aware that the National Occupational Standards for Youthwork were being re-written AND the draft copy sees the competencies increased (they now go up to ‘M’ eek).
Fund raising:
Here’s one of those search engine jobbies that raises money everytime it’s used. It’s called Everyclick, link it up to your charity and get all your supporters using it and it could be quite lucrative.
Youth work Issues:
The University of Sheffield are conducting some research into SELF HARM, if you have any 14-19’s with experience of SH and would like to help then there is an online questionairre here. Unusually for me I’d like to flag up an article from the Daily Mail, I thought this was a good piece on concerns about underage sex.
Camps and Residentials:
The legendary Matt Stevens runs a New Year Houseparty for teens, it’s called COUNTDOWN and they still have some places left, have a look!
Anyway this being my thousandth post, I’d like to thank my Mum and dad, my agent (yeah right), everyone who has ever met me and my hair stylist. Thanks also to YOU, yes you … for calling in whether you are a commenter or a lurker. I checked with this site this morning and Youthblog is worth $38,000 (LOL) and I’m open to offers (as long as I can stay on as writer!). Let’s keep discussing, thinking, agreeing, disagreeing and debating eh …
agree disagree less.jpg
Shalom and trans blogospere hugs 🙂

Bike gone Tween con

I am currently trying to write my half of a Grove book on Tweens, Ironically though the research I bumped into this weekend was an experience of Tweens I’d have preferred not to have had.
ladri.jpgOn Saturday two 10 or 11 year olds called at the door and asked (by name) for my youngest to come out and play, he thought this was great and headed out the door, he was also more than happy when they said to bring his bike out. I chatted with them and reminded them my boy was only 6 and was not allowed out of the Close. A few minutes later my son came back in tears and said they’d taken his bike. We went for a wander (I thought they were just messing about) but they had gone and so had the bike. It turns out that my son did not know the boys but I’d wrongly assumed that he did because they asked for him by name (he plays with so many kids from the Estate that me not immediately recognizing them was not a suprise). They’d called for another boy too (again by name) so they must have got the names from somebody? It also looks like they were not from our estate at all.
My son is pretty upset about the whole thing but being remarkly balanced about it, we’ve been praying for the boys involved and he wants to forgive them, but would like his bike back. It’s given me plenty to reflect on and I wonder what their life experience has been that cynically stealing a bike from a six year old doesn’t trouble them. On the plus side though I am profoundly thankful as things could have been a lot worse.
My eldest boy was a lot angrier though and without us knowing had phoned 999, which got us told off, hey ho!

It’s the oven, honest

Had a blast on my visit to St Luke’s youth group last night even if “Christ and the art of cycle maintenance” didn’t go entirely to plan (but hey things not going to plan does ‘ocassionally’ happen in youth work eh!). The youth group meet in the church which is really funky inside, I’ve never seen a Church where there is such evidence of young people’s ownership, very cool. Church on the outside, madcap youth and community hall on the inside (I’m going to have to get along to a Sunday service to see what it looks like then).
Did some bike stuff last night BUT the biggest hits in this department were riding my Brompton around, oh and seeing who could hold their thumb over the Track pump connector the longest and thus register the highest pressure (110psi).
I also got to play Pool. I got to sample some shortbread that was being made which was black on top and soft in the middle (but it was ” the oven that caused that”). I saw some First aid training going on, craft stuff and had quite a laugh with the young people. Class!

The Kevine Epistles

In one sense I’ve been blogging since 1992. Now I know that this pre-dates blogs (in fact in pre dates me even having a computer) but since then I’ve been exchanging letters with my good friend Kevin the Canadian (now known as Kevin the Patriach) and they are so similar to my blog stylee that they seem to be a series of “posts” that were ahead of the neccessary technology. I’ve just had a letter from him that took him eight months to write (due to Patriarchal responsibilities) and tonight I added it to the HUGE file I have that’s labelled the ‘Kevine Epistles!’ Flicking through the file on a whim I came across the novel that we were co-authoring and thought I’d put it on the blog in case a Publisher wants to give us huge amounts of money to finish it. (I think it’s much more original and bankable than the OJ SImpson, “How I would have done it” book, thats featured in the news recently). Anyway, can I stress that it’s copyright (just like proper Authors 😉 BUT here’s the Ironically cliched opening:

 “He was a dark and stormy knight.
He was the best at times, he was the worst at times.
Never without his faithful horse, “Thyme” his path was strewn with adventure and danger.
Once upon Thyme he came across a deserted castle. It had been deserted for a long time; sand was blowing in great drifts through the hallway, and a camel wandered disconsolately through the throne room.
The knight wondered who had lived there as he tried to dismount Thyme. But it was the end of the day, he was tired and the knight fell”

Lunacy or genius? (second thoughts, don’t answer that!)
Anyway, this has nothing to do with youthwork but the previous post is a jolly useful prompt about Fire Risk Assements so you could read that. (Oh ….. and Kevin, only you could spend eight months crafting a letter to me in which your new home featured so prominently but fail to actually give me the address so I could reply!)

Fire Safety

fman sam.jpg When I was a Church based youth worker I had a youth building that was ‘Grade 2 Star’ listed and even a cursory glance revealed it to be a Fire safety challenge. I put as much safety into place as I could and then rang the Fire service to arrange for them to come and check out our precautions. However, at this point they told me that they no longer did site visits!
To which I replied, “That’s a bit awkward because I’m going to struggle to get the building to you!”
I’ve just remembered why I started that waffly preamble. Amaze have flagged up that the ‘Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order” is now in force. This order encompasses all buildings and includes marquees, place of worship and even outdoor events. The responsibility now rests entirely with the “responsible person” ….. this is not as tautological as it sounds. If you have a responsibility for a building or event then it is down to you to have carried out and acted on a ‘Fire risk Assesment”
More info here