Defending Youth work

You should read this piece (and the linked Word document) that aims to raise debate/campaign on the values and drivers of historic youth work as opposed to the Government, outcome and target driven, agenda.

You have the opportunity to sign up and/or debate the thinking therein.

As an aside, it’s also well worth a read for its’ great phraseology, I really liked this:

“The essential significance of the youth worker themselves, whose outlook, integrity and autonomy is at the heart of fashioning a serious yet humorous, improvisatory yet rehearsed educational practice with young people”
ht to Dot

9 Replies to “Defending Youth work”

  1. I’ve been following youth blog for a while.
    Thanks for keeping us in the loop and challenged through youthblog.
    Outcomes in Christian youth work are key. B4 you jump all over me I’m refering to the outcomes of being and character, not doing or behaviour.
    I would suggest outcomes along these lines:-
    Loves God and people, knows in their heart and mind that God is big enough to walk with them through anything that comes their way, Knows that God has given them their gifts and talents for His purposes, Knows that they belong to God’s family (warts and all), knows that they are loved .. I could go on and I’m sure you could too …
    thoughts ?

  2. Oh Please!
    “Capitalism is revealed yet again as a system of crisis: ‘all that is solid melts into air’.” and “we will not be alone. Organised, dissident resistance is growing. Adult Education, devastated in the name of vocationalism, is reviving at the grass roots.”
    If only this was a joke! All youth work has agendas and worldviews that form it…even this ultra-left wing rant that seems to want creative anarcy. There is a real debate to be had about what youth work is for, but by framing it as if it has come from the Socialist worker simply closes doors and stops people listening.
    Yes there are some valid points being made, to be honest when it is wrapped in such a political rant I can’t be bothered to engage as i know they won’t listen.

  3. agendas…agendas…I am sick of hearing about agendas….when I worked for a charity it was simple to me and my colleagues …we tried to help young people…cope with our world….the national inspectors seem to agree with us apparently it was in line with ‘every child matters’ and we came out as one of the best services in the Borough…….. then I join the church and again I get asked about vision…purpose…da da da… what is wrong with just simply helping young people where ever ‘they are at’…..I don’t think this is socialist, and I don’t think this is an agenda…personally it is because of my Christianity that I do this work but without the agenda of evangelism although I pray they are touched by God’s Love.This is my rant!I say to ‘agenda’ …go jump off the nearest bridge. (I have to admit I am in bad mood!)

  4. Hi Ian, I’ve been doing some similar research for my dissertation and have put up some questionnaires regarding outcomes in youth work.
    “Basically my premise is that the dominant outcome-based model of evaluation in youth work is flawed because youth work is not about achieving outcomes, it is fundamentally about process or journey. This is not to say evaluation and accreditation in youth work are worthless, rather they are essential to help work focussed and accountable. Therefore I’m trying to build a more suitable framework for evaluating youth work.”
    Here are some links to some of the work I’ve been doing:

  5. I like the process and journey idea…I agree evaluation is valuable….and in Youth Counselling which is the service I use to work for….evaluating the long term effect of person centred counselling was complex….and confining the outcomes to a set of limited values….. did the process of counselling an injustice because the positive effects of good counselling could take years to be fully effective.

  6. You might well think I’m a sad soul, although I can have a laugh now and again, but the Open Letter, In Defence of Youth Work, is not a joke. To be honest, it’s a worry if ‘Escaped youth worker’ thinks just because we mention Capitalism, we’re signed up members of the Socialist Workers’ Party. Not that this would be bad in itself, it’s just that they’d never have me for a member. And I think it’s clear from our effort to define Youth Work that we are well up for listening. Ironically too we’ve had messages of support from a number of Christian workers, who were clearly not so offended by our ultra-left ranting. As it is the Letter is gathering support and a number of regional gatherings are in the pipeline – see a new Blog at
    Of course a conversation between an atheist such as myself and committed Christians such as yourselves will be fraught, but I’m up for chatting and seeing whether an alliance in support of young people is possible.

  7. Tony, thanks for your comment, much appreciated.
    For the record, I posted the post, and the link to “in defence ….. ” as I identify with the issues you raise. I think there is commonality with your campaign in terms of where a lot of us in Christian youth work are coming from.
    I’m up for alliances that give better voice and opportunity to the young people we (across the whole spectrum of youth work) collectively serve.
    I hope we will get to have a conversation 🙂

  8. Ian
    Hopefully in the coming months youth workers across the spectrum will come together independently to explore together where Youth Work is up to and indeed where it might wish to go. Simply saying this raises the question of what voice young people have within even our own ‘professional’ debates.
    Chatting critically together – a way forward?
    Best Wishes

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