Conference conclusions by Dr. Howard Williamson of the University of Glamorgan

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POYWE Conference Vienna, 14.-16. January 2013

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Conference conclusions by Dr. Howard Williamson of the University of Glamorgan

  1. 1. Youth research, practice, policymaking & professional openyouth work in EuropeDr Howard WilliamsonProfessor of European Youth PolicyProfessional Open Youth Work in Europe [POYWE]First International Conference, Vienna, Austria 2013
  2. 2. Bonanza!• Shoot out at the OK Corral• Riding off into the sunset• Bunch of cowboys?• Too many chiefs and not enough „indians‟?• How cruel can the background music be!!! [so upbeat in the context of our challenges!][
  3. 3. Resumé• Repetition• Reinforcement• Reinvention• Reassertion• Recognition• Reminders »Moving forward
  4. 4. Dishwashers to Doctors• In need of translation/interpretation? Llangollen 1992 – and „Geordie‟……….• „Critical people at critical moments‟• “It‟s time for organising, not agonising” [Pauline]• The need for thinkers, as well as doers• Freedoms/choices – ‘just another word for nothing left to lose’? Autonomy/support [Lloyd]• Having fun in the „base camp of youth work‟
  5. 5. Supporting or Replacing educational practice?• It is a moral abdication not to impel young people into new experiences• „Starting from strengths‟, rather than regulation, control and crisis intervention• Nurses have lost the ability to care [Mick]: youth workers from Mars and from Venus – what‟s it all about, Alfie?• Regimes of truth• Acts of faith or acts of science?
  6. 6. Pathways to support for youth work• How and when to inject political advocacy?• Evidence does not promote sensible policy but may prevent stupidity in policy• Stories as alternative „evidence‟• Supplement not substitute to formal ed.• Common core: code of ethics minimum quality training framework
  7. 7. Critical people at critical moments!
  8. 8. Personal roots and routes• „Youth work‟ practice 40+ years – Open club-based work, street-based work – Teaching and examining on professional training courses• Youth research 30+ years – Offending, training and unemployment, enterprise, substance misuse, homelessness, mental health and learning disability, public care, labour market recruitment• Youth policy 20+ years – Youth work, alcohol and substance misuse, youth training, social inclusion, youth justice, curriculum reform, volunteering, safeguarding and advocacy – Wales, UK, EU, Council of Europe, other countries, UN
  9. 9. Gent 2010 – an aide-memoire Youth work as a dog• Astray / a stray – looking for a home?• Companion• Lover• Defender• Guide• Retriever Common sense / common scents!
  10. 10. Naming „youth work‟• Traditional versus modern?• Between individualisation & instrumentalisation• Transit zone or Forum?• Socio-educational instructors• „Non-formal‟ education• Social education / social pedagogy• Personal and social development• Social and emotional capability („resilience‟)• The term „youth work‟ is neither used nor understood in most countries
  11. 11. A spectrum of „youth work‟• Targeted on particular issues/groups adult-led youth work• Adult-led open youth work• Negotiated/shared agenda open youth work• Street-based youth work• Youth organisations: youth-led youth work• Youth movements?• And what distinguishes „youth work‟ from, for example, youth social work, careers guidance, mentoring, teaching, sports instruction, musical tuition….. And other „working with young people‟?
  12. 12. The youth work journeyContexts Issues Over TimeMethods Groups
  13. 13. The „youth work‟ triangle The aspirations of public policy Youth worker The The needs/wants principles of of young youth work people
  14. 14. Histories of youth work• In most countries, „youth work‟ is an unfamiliar term• Youth organisations, adult-led youth activities and supported association, participation and leadership, pervasive Scouting, youth movements…..• EU/Council of Europe Youth Partnership seminars, conference, Convention & books
  15. 15. In the context of „youth policy‟• Local• Regional / devolved administrations• National• European – European Union [Miriam‟s presentation] – Council of Europe• Global – United Nations
  16. 16. Some British / UK history• 19th C: Social rescue - child saving & settlements• Early 20th C: Character-building• Inter-war years: Physical improvement• Post-war: Cultural rescue• 1960s/70s: Political education and citizenship• 1980s: The Thompson „A‟s [see over] (England)• 80s/90s: Employment, crime prevention• 2000: Part of „extending entitlement‟ (Wales)• 2010: Positive for Youth and NCS – Personal decision-making, social relationships
  17. 17. The Thompson 5 „A‟s (1980s)• Association• Activities• Autonomy• Advice• Advocacy• Which is pretty much what young people say……. The essential case for open youth work
  18. 18. Open youth work under threat?• Expectations of youth work• Target concerns – Education – Employment – Health – Crime / deviance• Structured provision and frameworks• Curriculums and collaborations (HW 1990)• Outcome and accountability requirements
  19. 19. Current European „youth policy‟• European Union – Opportunities in education and employment – Access to sport and participation – Solidarity between the generations• Council of Europe [hardly mentioned] – Human rights, democracy and the rule of law – Living together in diverse societies – Social inclusion of young people
  20. 20. European youth research• The network of European youth researchers• ESA (youth and generation) and ISA (rc34)• European Knowledge Centre on Youth Policy (EKCYP)• [ENYK] and [INYR]• Partnership research seminars• Pool of European Youth Researchers• The recent EU social inclusion cluster• Current EU evaluation of youth work study• Council of Europe youth policy reviews
  21. 21. What did I do as a youth worker?• Self-started practice as a teenager• Voluntary work – recreation• Professional work – Open youth clubs („the base camp of youth work‟) – Individual advice and support – Group activities and discussions – Residential experiences – Working with other agencies• A Duty to Explain (1982)
  22. 22. Rules of engagement• Benevolent autocracy (v. democracy!) – Beware the tyranny of the majority – Create space and opportunity for the newcomer – Promote equality of access and participation• Rules and regulation (v. self-governance) – The law and municipal regulations – my rules, their rules (the space for negotiation)• Relationships and Trust building – Casual and purposeful conversations and support – Responsiveness, proactivity and emergent issues
  23. 23. Sharing the agenda• My guiding principle [ activating agency – HS] „I will only do for young people those things that they cannot do by virtue of their age‟
  24. 24. The age question• What age group is „youth work‟ for?• From the „acute anxieties of adolescence‟ to the „chronic crisis of young adulthood‟*• Changing social conditions of young people *HW Struggling beyond Youth (1983)
  25. 25. The target question• Should „youth work‟ be open to all?• Should „youth work‟ be targeted at particular groups: – The „most disadvantaged‟ – School drop-outs – Those at risk of risky behaviour• Specialist and generalist youth work
  26. 26. Cherished values? / sacred cows?• The voluntary relationship• „Starting where young people are at‟• Professionalism / professionalisation• Promoting youth autonomy• Providing youth support• Unconditional positive regard• The limits of confidentiality („professional secrecy‟)
  27. 27. Process or Outcome?• Youth work tends to value the process• Increasingly youth work is expected to contribute to (measurable) outcomes• Invest to Save, and Payment by Results• Personal and Positional Change……..
  28. 28. Balancing Acts Probably the hardest job in the world• Balancing intervention with response• Balancing individual & societal expectations• Balancing leisure and education• Balancing the life led versus the life developed• Balancing comfort zones and stretch zones• Reconciling principles with pragmatism• Holding the line
  29. 29. Driving the car• The youth transitions analogy – Cars, roads, maps and guides• The youth work analogy – When do we push on the brake and when do we press the accelerator?
  30. 30. Two-faced? Double-headed? Youth work in need of hydration• Some basic propositions of youth work: – Acceptance (not necessarily approval) – Respect - the person not the „problem‟ (unconditional positive regard?) – Pace – Patience
  31. 31. DehydrationRelationshipsTrustProcessSpaceTime Targets Outcomes Measurement Performance
  32. 32. Rehydration?TargetsOutcomesMeasurementPerformance Relationships Trust Process Space Time
  33. 33. Framing, positioning, promoting• „Influencing European young people‟s lives in a positive way‟ [Sabine on Monday]• The idea of „extending entitlement‟• Making the connections – external interface• Realpolitik? And political championship• “We are the translators” [Karin on Monday]• Not selling our souls – cherished values and sacred cows. No unconditional surrender!“It is better to die on our feet than live on our knees”
  34. 34. “You don‟t grow grass by pulling it”Youth workers are gardeners, not mechanics……Education/Learning is not about the filling of avessel but the lighting of a flame (Plutarch)
  35. 35. How do we keep OUR flame alive?DefenceSolidarityAdvocacyResourcesWe approach our work with an openmind, but not an empty one………….And there is more work to be doneGood luck!

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