Youth work summit

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Here’s ‘summit’ (ok, that’s a cheesy pun even by my normal standards, but I’m tired) to etch in your diary in a BIG, not-room-for-anything-else, kind of a way as you should be there. The Youth Work Summit is a day for dialogue across the spectrum of Christian youth work. Lots to be worked out yet but loving the core values it is accountable to of being subversive, inclusive, broad BUT deep!
I’ll be there! (but don’t let you put that off)
This is what it says on the tin:
“It’s the idea of creating genuine dialogue between youth workers of all Christian traditions, who talk and pray together to shape creative responses to the challenges of twenty-first century youth ministry. It’s the idea of curating a moment of genuine unity, where theology and ideology is momentarily put aside in the light of the bigger picture”

Close encounters of the third kind

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Whilst I was at a school fete I happened to get chatting to a couple of detached youth workers* and the subject of paperwork came up and they gave me a look see at their recording sheets. For each conversation they need to record some details and attribute a level of encounter from one to three. One being at the level of a brief conversational exchange through to three which would involve an outcome where a young person was taking action to challenge or change something.
Although I’m not wild about paperwork I am up for stuff that keeps us accountable to intentional youth work.
Filed under: Not sure where this one was going but I like the word intentional and i like the four bedrocks of youth workeryism:
Voluntary participation
Informal education
Empowerment
Equality of opportunity
*I’m wondering if this makes me a detached ,detached youth worker, worker?

The images of Youth work volunteering

The vast majority of young people’s work is delivered by volunteers, so the image of volunteers and of volunteering is an important conversation to be having. There has been some discussion about men now being less willing to be involved in work with young people as there might be a negative perception of them/their motivation. There is also I sense a reluctance to work with older adolescents becuase of cultural stereotyping and fear.
scout caricature ad.jpgWhat is interesting though is two recent stories regarding the image of youth-work(ers) in the paper, one conveying a negative image and one portraying a much glossier front!
Firstly the Phone company (Phones 4u) that used a negative caricature of a Scout leader as a rather boring, friendless character in order to promote it’s business. Eventually, in response to complaints, removing the advert from circulation.
natalie ad 4 blog.jpgWhile a more positive image of volunteering might be found by the story that flagged up that Natalie Suliman, the ‘face’ of M&S is passionate about voluntary youth work, and continues to actively lead a young women’s group, fab!
So, if you’re looking for a figure head for a Church youth-work volunteer recruitment drive ……

E:merge

I had a fantastic morning in Bradford yesterday, meeting the crew of E:Merge, a Christian youth work project in the heart of a deprived area of the city. They talked us through the work that they do which involved detached, school based, centre based (their own in a disused church), sports and specific summer projects.
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E:merge has been running for over 12 years and it was obvious that the workers loved both the area and the young people they serve there. They face enormous hurdles with funding, challenging behaviour and how much they deliver tagetted work with targetted groups (which attract funding) or continue to engage on the basis of the voluntary participation of the young people. None of which detracted from the commitment to inspring young people and helping them to encouter opportunity.
bradford academy.jpgWe then went on to Bradford Academy where E:merge are very much involved. The headmaster spoke passionately about the work of the academy and particularly recognised the work E:merge do paying tribute to the fact they were local, had been around long enough to be trusted, worked with the young people in the community, on the streets and in the school and that there work was based around when young people needed them, the Head’ noting that Young People tend not to have crisis in office hours. The academy too was a real encouragment, the values and practices seem to be really well aligned. I loved the importance too of affirmation … and their policy of NEVER excluding a pupil.
It was an fantastic morning and so good to see such a great piece of gritty, gutsy Christian youth and community work. Work that recognised that the work had to be long term, needs based, incarnational and flexibly delivered.
Last year Jude Simpson wrote a book about the project called “Just Walk with Me” which I am now reading and finding heartbreakingly inspiring.

Veteran Youth worker bins archive shock

Space in our communal office here at Church House is a little bit short and we were on our regular hunt for things that weren’t bolted down or breathing, that could thus be jetisoned. My secretary spotted my collection of Youthwork magazine and suggested that this could free up some useful room! She was unarguably right but I am struggling with pangs of nostalgia and loss as seventeen years of Youth work magazine head towards pulping and recycling!
Sadly although the mag’ is made from sustainable sources it doesn’t use recycled pulp so I can’t entertain the idea of say my lovely Oct/Nov 1992 copy being reincarnated as, say the October 2009 edition. Hey Ho
In case you wondered, back in the day it was a black and white publication, but the mag’ gained a colour cover in 1995, benefitted from some colour content in 1999 and finally went full colour in 2002! Originally too there were only 6 copies a year!! (And you tell youth workers that today *adopts Yorkshire accent* …… and they don’t believe you!)
But here is the ‘then and now’ official commemorative photo for posterity:
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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

Youth unemployment

The below is from FYT and I commend the appeal to the blogosphere:
“Youth Unemployment – can you help??? Along with Bishop Roger Sainsbury and few ‘interested others’ Frontier Youth Trust is seeking to make a small contribution to concerns about youth unemployment in the UK. In the near future we are meeting with Government representatives to outline concerns/ideas and we are exploring the possibility of a youth work publication on the theme as well.
CAN YOU HELP??? I am wondering if you could take 10 minutes out of your time to share a story or two about this issue? I am specifically interested in youth work related stories that illustrate: the impact that unemployment can have on young people themselves, how youth work responds to unemployment and what ideas you have about possible future responses that could be made to respond to youth unemployment.
If you can send me any stories I would be most grateful and we will consider reproducing them in any publication that is developed – please state your name, role and any related organisational information in any story you are able to send. Please feel free to pass this on to anyone else who might be able to help.
Many thanks – Dave Wiles (CEO)

Veteran Youth worker

fngrs.jpgIn the Nineteen nineties, my Youth work heroes were often described, at conference introductions, as being, Veteran Youth Workers. This badge of ‘veteran’ is kind of vague and I think it is largely conferred for having worked with young people for many many years, and for having greying (or no) hair. Having worked with young people for twenty five years now I’ve been looking out for signs that, in terms of longevity, I may be earning the prefix, veteran!
Having said that apart from the greying hair … and that it takes me longer to recover from a residential event, what are the signs one looks for?
I may have spotted one I think though at the Youth Group Christmas Party! My response to the comestibles was a definite pointer towards veteranism. The food there consisted of chocolate fingers, crisps and cakes, accompanied by Lemonade or Coke. Back in the day this would have constituted the three main food groups for me and an excellent choice of beverage. I did however this time find myself thinking, oh I’d love a cup of coffee and a decent sandwich!
Happily though, I still LOVED the malarky and fun of the party and the young people were, as ever, wonderful company and completely and wonderfully CraazZZy.

We love our Youth worker

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Amaze and Youthwork the partnership have put together an initiative called, ‘We love our youth worker!’ It is a charter that Churches can sign up to, those that do so, agree to seven promises that will affirm, bless and help their youth worker.
Although it is not, I understand, officially launched until next year, it is very much around now as postcards promoting it were available at the Youthwork conference, and it’s on the very useful schoolswork site. So I thought I’d flag up the seven promises AND the rather brilliant illustrations by Dave walker!
cartoonchurchtunnelweb.jpg1. we will pray and support
2. we will give space for retreat and reflection
3. we will provide ongoing training and development
4. we will give a full day of rest each week
5. we will share responsibility
6. we will strive to be an excellent employer
7. we will celebrate and appreciate

Good stuff eh? I hope it will be a useful aid to churches thinking through employment issues. I’m pretty sure too that if it catches on, adverts bearing the charter mark will be the first ones looked at.
Reflecting on this though I was thinking that we as youth workers are not always the easiest of employees. I got to wondering therefore about what the seven commitments of employed youth workers might be as a corollary charter that we aim to stand by?
I was in conversation with a wonderful bunch of youth workers on Monday and we kicked this idea around for a while. This was our brief initial stab at a, “We love our Church” Charter

1. we commit to managing our time effectively
2. we will celebrate that our church has invested so much in youth work
3. we will communicate what is happening and what we are doing
4. we will try not to be control freaks
5. we will be teachable
6. we will listen
7. we will invest in a family, spiritual and social life outside of the youth ministry

I was also playing with an idea of how we honour the history of our the employing church as part of our role in it’s now and future, we didn’t however manage to tidy and define this idea well.
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Anyway ………… what would you add or take away from this speculative youth worker side of a charter?