International Youth and Community Workers Conference Report

International Youth and Community Workers’ Conference Report


On behalf of the partners who organized the June 1998 International Conference we are delighted to introduce this report which covers some of the main contributions made over three days. We are pleased to express our thanks to the Youth Exchange Center whose support and funding made this conference possible. Additional workshops focusing on successful policies for the social inclusion of young people have been written up into a book which will be available through the National Office of CYWU.

We did not see the Conference as a one-off event. It started something. We agreed to hold a Conference in Paris next year and to establish a network of contacts across the globe to organize for this.

Such work, we believe, is very important. The global economy has not put the needs of young people first. Creative strategies and services for young people to ensure that their talents are nurtured and developed need to be strengthened in every single country and the particular skills of youth and community workers have an important role to play in this. What informal education techniques with young people actually work, which ones do not? How do you fund and staff a national youth service? How do you train and qualify youth workers best? How do you pay them? How do you create a valued profession and service? From our first Conference these appear to be questions that all countries are asking. We hope that we can continue to find answers to them at a follow-up Conference in 1999 in Paris.

Many thanks to all colleagues who made this such a successful first Conference. Keep in touch.

Doug Nicholls
General Secretary
Bruce Malkin
Conference Organizer.

Community and Youth Workers’ Union

The Partners:

Institut National de la Jeunesse et de l’Education Populaire (France)

Socialpaedagogernes Landsforbund (Denmark)

The Community and Youth Workers’ Union (United Kingdom)


Thanks for particular contributions to the Conference arrangements are sincerely offered to:

Barbara Bicknell - INJEP (France)
Gerard Contremoulin - FEN (France)
Henrik Nielson - SF (Denmark)
Lydia Merrill - Manchester Metropolitan University
Paul Taylor - CYWU
Dave Peters - CYWU Administrator
Julie Hilling - CYWU President
Bob Allen - CYWU Vice President
Rohit Mistry - CYWU Executive
Members of the Birmingham Branch CYWU
Sue Kingsley-Smith - YEC
The Conference Office, Catering and Housekeeping Staff of Westhill College


Youth Issues Internationally

Colleagues, it is a real pleasure to be asked to say a few words at this International Youth and Community Work Conference. I am delighted that participants to the conference have come from countries throughout the world. Bruce tells me that there are delegates here from many continents of the world. It is an honour to welcome you all to our city of Birmingham. We pride ourselves on being a foremost European city with a glorious multicultural population living and working here. We are extremely pleased that you are our guests and that you can bring to this conference the knowledge and expertise that reflects your own experience in working with young people in your own countries. You are very welcome.

I have been asked to concentrate on young people in the international dimension and I hope you will forgive me if I concentrate mainly on Europe and young people because that reflects my own role as a European MP.

Statistics on Youth

• 14% of the EU’s population is made up of young people aged between 15 and 24 - this is 50.2 million young people

• Europe’s population is aging. There will be more people aged between 55 and 64 from the year 2000 to 2015 than aged between 15 and 24

• Between 1991 and 1995, unemployment for young people under 25 in the EU has increased from 16.3% to 21.5%

• It is therefore crucial for Europe to have a strong, cohesive policy approach on issues affecting young people.

Youth Concerns in the EU

The 1997 Eurobarometer survey which interviewed 9,400 young people from the 15 Member States of the EU aged between 15 and 24, produced the following results:

• The majority of young people are positive about Europe. They weigh more on the positive aspects of Europe than the negative. For example, 30% believe that Europe will “provide more job opportunities”, whilst 15% believe that the EU will lead to higher unemployment.

• The first priority for the EU in the view of young people should be tackling unemployment. This is followed by environmental protection; research and development in new technologies; education and training; and freedom to study, live and work anywhere in the EU.

• The European Union means first and foremost “freedom of movement”, whilst the notion of citizenship is all about mobility. Young people support:

• being able to work anywhere in the EU

• being able to live anywhere in the EU

• being able to study in a EU country

The number one foreseeable future benefit for young people is for it to be “easier to travel, study, work and live anywhere in Europe”. However, language barriers, rather than money, is seen as the main obstacle to young people moving around Europe.

• Information Technology is seen by young people as the key to employment.

The most useful skills needed are considered to be good general training, language ability; good communication skills and familiarity with IT.

And, the Eurobarometer survey tells us that Young People are very open towards others. They may be of a different nationality, race, religion or culture, they may be homosexual, disabled, alcoholic, homeless, etc. - it doesn’t matter (say 48%). However, this does vary between countries. The most ‘anti-foreign’ young people are those in Belgium, Germany, Austria and Greece. 41% of young people in Belgium think there are too many foreigners there. The most tolerant are Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. 44.8% of Finnish young people are ‘pleased to have foreigners living in their country’. The UK, along with Spain, France, Italy and Portugal express the least definite opinions either way. This is a complex picture, which is further complicated by very small groups of youth who make the headlines in aggressive behaviour towards each other, such as the UK football hooligans in Marseilles.

What has the EU done/is doing to address these issues?

Well, the EU is increasingly attempting to be in tune with young people, as it directly tackles the issues regarded by young people as most affecting them.

1. Combating unemployment and promoting employment.

• This is currently the EU’s number one priority. 5 million of the 18 million people unemployed in the EU are young people. National Action Plans to combat unemployment were the main topic of discussion at this week’s Cardiff European Summit, chaired by Tony Blair as the current EU President. The plans follow the Employment Guidelines endorsed in last November’s Employment Summit in Luxembourg, where Member States agreed that the low skilled, long term and youth unemployed should be targeted. The four goals of employability, flexibility, entrepeneurship and equal opportunities will be pursued in the goal of reducing European unemployment rates. Employability concerns youth policy most directly, as it suggests some initiatives to combat social and economic exclusion of young people. Measures include training courses for every young person out of work before reaching six months of unemployment (60% of unemployed young people have been so for more than six months), work experience placements, and lifelong learning. (40% of Small and Medium Employers in Europe say that a lack of adequate skills amongst the young hinder their employment).

2. EU Education, Training and Youth Policy

• Adequate education and training provision is the lynch pin to reducing unemployment in Europe. This is reflected in the Commission’s policy direction, “Towards a Europe of Knowledge”. This new approach to education, training and youth policy is equipped top bring young Europeans into the next millennium. It focuses on training and educating people to make them employable and adaptable in the job market in the context of lifelong learning and the EU’s employment guidelines.

• The aim is to have a more strategic, focused approach where education, training and employment is located right at the heart of the EU. The Commission wants to create a European Educational Area which involves the development of knowledge, the enhancement of citizenship and the promotion of employability.

• It is all about making the European programmes more accessible to citizens, whilst placing education and training at the heart of the EU’s agenda and identity.

Specific EU Community Initiatives for Young People


• In the area of education a variety of funding initiatives exist to increase young peoples’ experiences of Europe.

• The SOCRATES programme divides into three strands

ERASMUS allows those in Higher Education the chance to study in another country

COMENIUS allows schoolchildren to twin with schools from across the EU

LINGUA helps young people to improve their language skills by providing them with teaching placements in other countries.


LEONARDO DA VINCI - an EU programme which provides vocational training placements for young people across Europe

YOUTH START - a strand of the EU’s employment initiative, specifically aimed to provide training to unemployed young people under 20 who have left school with no formal qualifications


Other programmes include:

YOUTH FOR EUROPE III - enables young people involved in community based clubs to build partnerships with similar groups in other EU countries

EUROPEAN VOLUNTARY SERVICE - pilot projects are found which give young people a chance to do voluntary work in another European country. Projects include working with the disabled, the elderly, the homeless, children and the environment.

• These programmes have been extremely successful allowing many young people to experience the benefits of travelling around Europe and experiencing new cultures

• The Commission’s new policy for the years 2000-2004 has a very innovative structure and vision, building on the idea of A Europe of Knowledge. The budget has been increased by 50% for the new SOCRATES, LINGUA and YOUTH programmes

• The new generation of programmes should represent 2.5 million Europeans, enabling 1.2 million students, 200,000 teachers, 400,000 young people on training schemes and 600,000 young people under the Youth programme to benefit from a mobility programme directly aimed at young people.

In opinion surveys young people tell us that they are concerned about:


• The EU takes this environmental concerns extremely seriously, and a great deal of environmentally-friendly policy action is initiated by the AEU

• This includes issues from paper recycling and green consumer claims, to stopping dumping at sea (radioactive waste sewage deposits, cleaner seas, legislation to stop Brent Spar events), to restricting animal testing, to improve conditions for animals in zoos, to forcing car manufacturers to make more environmentally friendly vehicles - we have also introduced a directive to ban tobacco advertising from 2006

• The weight of the EU’s competency in this area can be seen by the huge amount of environmental lobbying we receive in the Parliament - tree loads of it!

Another concern is being proficient in INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

• The EU believes that equipping young people with IT skills is crucially important in this world of fast-changing technology. ’Net days’ were launched by the European Commission last October throughout Europe to make young people more aware of the new use of technologies.

• Schools, businesses and public institutions joined forces to put 10,000 European schools on-line, and young people from the Canary Islands to the Isle of Wight ‘virtually mobilized’ on-line. EU Commissioner Edith Cresson wants all schools in the EU to be involved in a vast Internet network by the Year 2000.

Young people are calling for more TOLERANCE in many countries


• The 1997 European Year Against Racism was a response by the EU to the continuing presence of racial prejudice, discrimination and racist attacks in all aspects of society - a constant problem for the EU

• Its main aim has been to raise awareness and highlight positive measures for overcoming racism. With a budget of £5 million (to which the Labour Government added an extra £300,000), national committees were set up in each Member state to coordinate action and events at local, regional and national level - to maximize action.

• There have been events all over Europe, many of which have focused on youth campaigns to promote the anti-racism message among young people. Football has especially used to get the message across to young people:


• 12 October - an International football tournament was played in Madrid to counter the problem of racism on Europe’s playing fields. Teams who took part were captained by Eric Cantona, Diego Maradona and George Weah.

• A video for use in schools has been produced called “Show Racism the Red Card”

• EU football associations began their first joint action to combat racism in football at the European Parliament. An exhibition was opened, aimed at 200,000 schools and colleges, involving high profile European football stars and European politicians. President of the European Parliament, Jose Maria Gill-Robles, said that to attack one person’s dignity by being racist, is to attack the dignity of all others. This exhibition was followed by a seminar involving football associations and teachers’ organizations. “The Contribution of the Teaching Profession in Europe to countering Racism, Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism in Football”.

• The year has been officially closed now, and during the EP’s Annual Debate Against Racism, Commissioner Flynn said that 177 projects had received funding during the year. The momentum of the Year now needs to be used as a springboard for further action which includes the European Commission’s plans to draw up a draft European law which would make it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of race, gender, disability age or sexual orientation.


• The UK Presidency of the last six months has focused strongly on having a real impact on young people. Its main priorities have included improving the employability of young people by aiming to raise standards in schools, encouraging the development of IT skills, further training and lifelong learning.

• The Government has recognized that young people entering the jobs market today will not get a job for life at 16,18,21 but are more than likely to have several jobs in the careers, whilst having to complete in an increasingly challenging global market. The aim is, therefore, to change the learning culture in all aspects of society so that lifelong learning is an accepted part of working life. That way, young people can grow and develop their skills throughout their working lives.

• Those who have been left on the margins are also a target for Government help, for the New Deal launched by the Government aims to strengthen the employability of the young and long term unemployed and so help 250,000 people back to work.

• In addition, a whole range of events have been hosted during the UK Presidency, involving schools and parents. Packs have been sent to schools highlighting the importance of the EU, competitions have been held to promote EU partnerships, and children have been given opportunity to be ‘Ambassadors for the Day’ in EU countries other than their own.

• We want to bring Europe closer to young people. The EU needs to be more open and transparent, and seen to be giving tangible benefits to its citizens. By tackling issues which EU youth are very concerned about - JOBS, EDUCATION, TRAINING, THE ENVIRONMENT etc., we can prove that Europe is positive about helping youth.

May I wish the CYWU and its partners in the Conference every success for a productive conference for the next few days.


The construction of social identity

It is both a privilege and a pleasure to have been invited by the Community and Youth Workers’ Union to address such a multinational audience. There should be delegates here from all over

the world - from Australia. Bangladesh. Barbados. Denmark, France, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Guinea, India, Ireland, Mongolia, South Africa , Pakistan, and Uganda, as well as from the different regions of Britain. On behalf of the Union, and Westhill College, I extend to you a welcome that I hope is every bit as warm as the weather you have been experiencing today! You can tell I am British - I have got to mention the weather!

For my contribution to your programme, I have been offered the title ’The construction of social identity’. I have also been asked to bear in mind that you are engaged in various kinds of work

with young people and with communities. I know from my own experience that this type of work brings you face to face with major issues of change and development. You have to deal with people at different levels - the personal, the cultural, the social and the political. You will therefore not be surprised if, at the outset, I suggest that the form and function of identity also has

all these dimensions. But before 1 examine identity in some detail. I want to start by making some general observations - observations that present something of a paradox in our search for identity, but which nevertheless provide a useful background against which the shape of identity can usefully be traced.

We live in a world today that is increasingly marked by economic and cultural globalization. As an Indian, my presence in Britain, as well as the presence of so many of you at this conference today from different regions and nations is living proof of this incessant process. Thanks to the demands of international capital, the forces of industrialization. the easier mobility of goods and people, and the global reach of multinational electronic media, members of even the most traditional and isolated societies are being daily exposed, if not actually being physically transported, to new ways of life and thought. The influence of such political, economic, social and cultural processes on our language, aspirations, patterns of consumption, lifestyles, self-understanding and our innermost fears. doubts and anxieties is often so subtle and systematic that we do not even notice it. It has been argued that these processes have, toward the end of this century, resulted in the collapse of the nation-state as a site of political activity, dismantled long standing communities and stripped individuals of their distinguishing identities.

But we also observe that in spite of these homogenizing forces of globalization, and perhaps because of them, mobilizations along national, regional, racial and ethnic lines are occurring universally and pervasively. It may be true to some extent that the independence of the nation state is greatly limited by the demands of international capital, and the dissemination of electronic culture permeates every vestige of global space and spares no human being, but the world today is marked by the emergence, and consolidation, of more and more ethnically-based nation-states both in the East and West, as well as the North and South. I only have to draw your attention to the catastrophic events in southeastern Europe, the territories of the erstwhile Soviet Union, as well as the war and civil strife in different parts of Africa to prove the point. And it isn’t just happening in the countries of Europe. At the apex of the world system, America and Japan too give witness to the jealous maintenance of their triumphant nationhood, as much as the countries within Asia and Africa.

And it isn’t just a resurgence of national sentiments. Within the national. racial and regional units of identification. we are witnessing the emergence of other kinds of social groupings - organized often along the axes of age, disability, gender and class, as well as religion, language, civil status and even musical styles and dress codes. These groups too are claiming recognition in the name of their particular social affiliation. And it is the persistence, universality and simultaneous character of these claims, that has led many social commentators to focus on the construction. reproduction and reshaping of social identity as the central preoccupation of our era.

So, on the one hand, there is the argument that global processes are transforming individual identity, minimizing its significance, causing it to be regarded by some as no more than a fiction an unstable entity psychically, culturally and politically - as arbitrary as the means by which it is identified. On the other hand, these same global processes have also resulted in the insistence, that identities do matter, that they are not simply journeys of the mind, that there are real histories behind them, and that, when the occasion demands, people are prepared to defend them with guns and barbed wire.

Thus we observe that. in the modernized world, the notion of identity becomes both a complex and a contested issue. First there is the debate about just how real or ephemeral identities are, and second, they are perceived as being essentially fragmented, as having multiple forms, and as having a situational element. Identity is made up of many parts and all the different parts of identity appear to be upheld either simultaneously, successively or separately and with different degrees of force, conviction and enthusiasm. Each individual constructs and presents any one of a range of possible social identities, depending upon the situation. These identities are stored within the person, and not always visible to the observer. Like a player concealing a deck of cards from the other contestants,, an individual pulls out a religion, a language, a historical affiliation, an ethnicity, a lifestyle - as and when the context deems that a particular choice is desirable or appropriate.

I am reminded here of the story of a precocious young schoolgirl who was born in the town of Bradford, in the north of England, to parents had migrated from the district of Mirpur in

Pakistan. When she was asked, by some curious social researcher no doubt. to define her identity, she answered, ’When I am in the school playground with my white English friends, I am black. When an African-Caribbean girl joins our group, I become an Asian. When another Asian girl comes in, I think of myself as a Pakistani and a Muslim. When a Pakistani friend joins us, I become a Mirpuri.And when another Mirpuri girl turns up, I become a Bradford school girl again.’

The moral of that story is that nobody identifies with the same group, or in opposition to the same set of others, all the time. Everybody has more than one answer to the question ’Who am I?’ We all speak from a particular place, out of a particular history, out of a particular experience, without having to be straight-jacketed by the binary oppositions of black or white, native or immigrant, citizen or denizen, young or old, male or female, gay or straight. Of course we are all located in specific ways, but the boundaries of our identity are being constantly crossed and re -crossed by the categories of race, class, gender, civil status. sexuality and age.

These observations should assist us in subjecting our own identities to a closer scrutiny. As individuals we posses countless attributes and qualities and stand in a host of relationships with others. Some of these personal attributes and social relationships are contingent and transient while others are more central and tenacious and shape us profoundly. On the one hand there are facts about us we can change and yet still remain, in the main, the same kind of people. By contrast. there are other factors. like our values, our religion, moral commitments, even psychological dispositions that are constitutive of us in a way that we cannot abandon them without becoming very different kind of persons.

Identity refers to this set of personal attributes and relationships that are constitutive of us and define and distinguish us as a certain kind of person. We are necessarily the products of countless influences. Some go back to our childhood and are largely unknown to us. Others work so surreptitiously and unconsciously that we only become aware of them after a rigorous self-analysis. This self-knowledge in turn further reacts on our identity and makes it even more elusive. A part of our identity thus always remains a mystery to us, and we can be surprised by the things we say and do. There are also areas of ambiguity, contradiction and fluidity in our thought and behaviour so that we can never fashion ourselves into total coherent wholes.

And since our self-knowledge is never wholly accurate and complete, there is always a gap between who we are and who we think we are. There is a constant interplay between these two dimensions of our identity. Our self understanding is checked against who we really are, conversely who we really are can be altered, sometimes decisively, by the way we define ourselves. The result is that our identity is neither fixed and unalterable nor wholly fluid and subjected to unlimited reconstruction. And since it evolves gradually over time, it has several identifiable turning points and is best told in the form of a story or a narrative of how we came to be and what we are.

Another point about identity is that although identity is closely related to difference, the two are not the same. Obviously, to know who I am is also to know who I am not and how I differ from others. Since the need to define my identity arises partly because I need to distinguish myself from others, every statement of identity is also a statement of difference. However it is wrong to suggest that therefore identity is wholly defined by difference. I differ from others because I am already constituted in a certain way. not the other way round. If others became like me, my differences from them would diminish, but it would be absurd to conclude that my identity has also changed. They have changed but 1 haven’t. What this means is that in order to maintain my identity, I don’t need to stress my differences from them, let alone frantically endeavour to retain these differences. The false and total equation of identity with difference is both misleading and dangerous and can the extreme lead to nationalism and xenophobia.

A final point about the nature of identity. Identity is not always a matter of pride. As we discover who we are, we might not like some or even most of what we find. We might find that we harbour deep sexist, racist, and other prejudices, or that we are mean, jealous, greedy, and unable to respond to others’ achievements in a spirit of generosity. We might feel ashamed of ourselves and even of our culture which encouraged these prejudices and moral traits in us, and we might explore ways of reconstituting and reforming ourselves and our societies.

It is difficult to think of an identity of which one is wholly proud or totally ashamed - one breeds narcissism, the other self-hatred. and both alike are a recipe for psychological and moral disintegration. For the most part we are both content with and critical of our identity in different degrees. Our identity involves elements of both acceptance and disapproval and includes a measure of evaluation. And just as I can evaluate my identity, so can others. While my identity deserves their respect. the respect cannot be uncritical, for they might legitimately question aspects of it that they find unacceptable.

All this applies of course to the identity of a nation. National identity is the identity of a political community and refers to the kind of community it is, its central values and commitments, its characteristic ways of talking about and conducting its collective affairs, its organizing principles, the way in which it constitutes the public realm. its self-understanding, and the deepest passions, fears. and aspirations of its members. Like individual identity, national identity is neither unalterable nor a matter of unfettered choice. It is alterable within limits and in a manner that harmonizes with its overall character and organizing principles. It is not wholly transparent either, and some aspects of it surprise even its keenest observers.

National identity, again, is not always a matter of pride. In the aftermath of the Nazi regime, may Germans intensely disliked what they discovered about their nation, and decided to restructure and regulate their identity by tying themselves closely to the idea of a federal Europe. In Britain, too, not all its citizens feel comfortable with its imperial history. While some still remain obstinately proud of it, others feel deeply ashamed of the way their country burst into and took over other societies.

Our social identity, then, is the sum-total of our individual and our national identities. At the practical level, it is both an inheritance that constitutes us and limits our choices, as well as being capable of constant reconstruction. It can neither be preserved like an antique piece of furniture nor discarded like an old pair of clothes.

We live today in a world in which our traditional ideas of social identity needs radical revision. This is because, as I have already said, virtually all societies today are profoundly plural in character and include communities and individuals who take different views about the meaning of life, live by different values, and assign different meanings and significance to different activities. And because of the forces of globalization this diversity is wider, and more defiant than ever before.

I have also indicated that globalization is a paradoxical phenomenon. On the one hand, it leads to the homogenization of ideas, institutions, ideals, moral and social practices, and the organization of life. Individuals are vested with a set of human rights and encouraged to unite on the basis of a centralized structure of authority grounded in a shared political culture. On the other hand, it also encourages heterogeneity. It encourages migrations of individuals and even whole communities, and diversifies every society.

The emphasis here is on individuals as the bearers of cultural rights, engaged in designing new ways of defining themselves. This stimulates the rediscovery or invention of indigenous traditions to underpin and legitimize the sense of difference, a sense of distinctiveness that renders them more likely to succeed against others in global competition.

A society shaped by such forces needs to strike a balance between the equally legitimate demands of both unity and diversity. But since both unity and diversity are important, we need to understand how one limits the other. If we privilege unity over diversity, we would provoke resistance and violate the important cultural rights of minorities.

If we privileged diversity over unity. society would degenerate into a collection of unhappily coexisting cultural ghettos obsessed with their differences and unable to work together to pursue common goals and create a wider and richer identity.

This leads us to conclude that any civil society that recognizes its plural character, must be based on a vision that maximizes opportunities for all its members while preserving their individual autonomy. Such a vision needs to find a practical synthesis of a pair of principles that pull in opposite directions- incorporation into the majority culture, and preservation of the minority culture; a universality across the whole of society and a sense of particularity within its constituent groups.

Social policy has to be designed so that both options equal participation in the larger society and full participation in the minority group - are genuinely open and fully protected. By equal participation, I mean the principle that every citizen, irrespective of his or her membership in a minority group. ought to be able, if they choose. to participate equally in larger society. This calls for equality of treatment and a unity in the politico-legal area of social life. By self-determination I mean the principle that members of every minority ought to be able to participate fully, if they choose, in the distinctive enterprises that contribute to their identity. This involves the celebration of diversity, not only with the state’s blessing but, when required, with the state’s assistance.

Where a tension exists between equal participation and self-determination it is just not good enough merely to state that they should somehow be balanced. An attempt must be made by everyone, in the majority and minority community, to be more specific. One inclination is to suggest that the line between the sphere of equal participation and self determination should be the line between the public and the private - we will be the same in public but different in private. In public all can be, say, British, while in private some are Christians, some Muslims some Hindus, some Jews - orthodox or liberal, practicing or lapsed. In public, all are European. in rivals some are white, some black, some Asian.

This might however be too neat a solution. One does not have to think hard to find some serious difficulties with this tidy thought. Muslims or blacks may not wish to be Muslims or blacks merely in private; they may wish to act on behalf of their minority in the public sphere. Members of minority groups cannot be expected to shed their identity as members of that minority as the price of admission into the public sphere. To require that they never act publicly would render minorities politically impotent which must mean that their private sphere can be threatened with impunity.

But avoiding the relegation of minority identity to the private sphere by no means implies swinging towards the other extreme of expecting public recognition for minority interests or rights in any way that would grant a special privilege or special right to the minority in question. Sikhs in Britain should not be forced to be Sikhs only in private, but they should also not expect Sikhism to be taught in state schools in any way in which other religions are also not taught.

Similarly, Jewish and Roman Catholic schools should not have advantages that Muslim schools do not have.

At the practical level, these conceptual issues translate into difficult choices about areas of social life that are an inextricable mixture of public and private concerns. To sense the difficulty, take for example the area of education. Which aspects of education are state concerns and which community? Just as the state schools of a liberal state might be secularizing, those in a theocracy might be less tolerant of a competing faith. The state must educate all its citizens in the skills necessary for effective participation if equality of status is of value, but the minority group may wish to protect its members against the erosion of their distinctive characteristics by the homogenizing forces of state run institutions. Obviously the solution is in striving for an appropriate balance. Educational curricula should promote no more assimilation than is necessary for effective participation, while no minority group should expect any public funds for any of its educational endeavours that it is not willing to see go equally to the similar endeavours of other groups - majority or minority - since each group is equally entitled to self-determination and self-development.

These are questions not just of intellectual fascination but of practical urgency. In the face of diversity not only are we obliged to construct a vision of the kind of society in which we want to live. but also construct strategies for its realizing our vision.

In the first place, such a society should ensure that its constituent communities are able to preserve and transmit their heritage including their languages, histories, religions, lifestyles and move through society with comfort and ease. No one should be subjected to discrimination or harassment or violence. All should be accorded equal dignity, respect and recognition.

Secondly, all constituent communities must have access to political power both because it is the basis of a group’s sense of worth and effectiveness and because it affects its economic and other prospects. Disadvantaged groups get excluded from the mainstream society and lead a life of their own on the margins of society. And the sense of exclusion and injustice generates a deep sense of resentment alienation and hostility to the wider society.

Thirdly, state institutions must assiduously cultivate an appropriate professional ethos and be firmly insulated against all forms of ethnic, religious and cultural pressure. If the state loses its legitimacy, and in particular its civil service. its police, its army and its courts, then the minorities are left with no alternative but to take the law into their own hands.

Fourthly, identity should not be seen as homogeneous and unchanging, for it then fears and cannot tolerate difference. It should be open and self-critical, not solid and sealed, but tentative and sensitive to the differences and contradictions within itself.

Fifthly, in order to cultivate a common sense of belonging among its diverse communities and to help them identify with each other and the wider community, society should so define its identity that it does not exclude and delegitimise any one of them. Disputes about national identity are ultimately about who belongs to the community and who does not.

Let me give you a few examples. When Malaysians debate whether their country is Malay Malaysia as the bulk of the majority insists, or Malayasian Malaysia, as the minorities do, they are debating the importance to be given to the Malayan community. Malay Malaysia makes Malays the sole legitimate owners of the country, and treats Chinese, Indian. and others as second class citizens, no doubt entitled to full legal protection but not to participate as equals in the determination of the country’s identity. Disputed between the advocates of Arab Sudan versus African Sudan. Christian Lebanon versus Muslim Lebanon, Algerian Algeria versus Arabic-Muslim Algeria, white and Christian Britain versus multiethnic Britain, and Hindu India versus Indian India have a similar thrust. In each case one party offers an exclusive view and the other an inclusive definition of national identity. The exclusive definition which is generally favoured by the dominant group, alienates minorities and even some sections of the dominant group and discourages a common sense of belonging.

What we want to cultivate is a society in which identity is built on a strong sense of common belonging without requiring a comprehensive national culture. Such a society cherishes both unity and diversity. Such a multicultural society possesses great moral, cultural and political depth. It is united but not unified. displays unity without uniformity, shares a common sense of belonging and accommodates a wide range of diversity.

However plural societies all the world over are characterized by tension, anxiety, instability, disorder and even violence. As youth and community workers your are ideally placed to rectify this situation. I suggest the formulation of a comprehensive programme involving the following:

First, a number of interesting constitutional. educational and cultural experiments to deal with cultural conflicts are being conducted different parts of the world from which we can all learn. Some of theses are little known to the wider world. They cover inner-city ethnic relations, schemes for adequate minority representation in political and other institutions, forms of devolution of power, ways of defining national identity, and programmes of citizenship education. It would be most valuable to highlight and disseminated the results of these experiments.

Second, there should be a concerted attempt to introduce multicultural studies at every level - primary, secondary and tertiary. There should be departments in universities which in cooperation with local institutions, should produce well-argued research papers providing accurate information about the construction of identity with objective assessments of the arguments on each side. By removing ignorance, misunderstanding and falsehood, the quality of public debate should be considerably raised.

Third, it is possible to anticipate and resolve conflict. People such as yourselves are often best placed to work with others to calm passions and guide public opinion. We need to identify within our communities individuals who can command general respect and who can become skilled in conflict resolution.

Fourth, we all need to sign up to an international movement that can demonstrate that culturally homogeneous societies are neither practicable nor desirable. and that there is no weakness or threat in a culturally plural order. This is best done, not by abstract theoretical arguments but by concrete examples drawn from different countries. showing how diversity enriches them not only aesthetically and morally but also materially.

I hope these suggestions point to a practical way forward for all of us wherever we are located in the world. I want to conclude, however, on a more philosophical note. Of late, we are beginning to define a new space for identity; an identity that insists on difference - on the fact that every identity is placed, positioned, in a culture, a language, a history. Every sentiment comes from somewhere, form somebody in particular. But we are no longer grounded in a set of fixed transcendental categories These categories therefore have no guarantees in Nature. Our identity should not be seen as having an essentialist, primordial quality. Rather, as has been said, ’identity is a process of invention which incorporates, adapts, and amplifies pre-existing communal solidarities, cultural attributes and historical memories’.

As such. it is something constructed, told, spoken, not simply found. Identity is not a thing-in-itself, it is not in our genes, it has never just been there. Trying to define identity precisely is like trying to divide a globe of mercury into many equal parts. But we must remember also that the acceptance of the fictional nature of identity, and of constantly shifting and multiplying identity options, also requires as a necessity its opposite - the moment of arbitrary closure, the laying down of a boundary. Identity is like discourse; potentially both are endless. But to say anything in particular, one has to stop talking. There has to be a full stop at the end of a sentence. So it is with our identities. We know they are not forever. not totally, universally true, not underpinned by any infinite guarantees. But for the moment, there is always a boundary, no matter how partial, temporary or arbitrary. Otherwise, we would all flow into one another and there would be no political action, no cut and thrust of ideology, no positioning, no crossing of lines, no change.

So there are other identities out there that do matter. that do bear some definite relationship to each other, that have to be dealt with somehow. Accepting the necessarily fictional nature of identity, does not stop us from engaging in the politics of difference. But it is an altogether gentler politics, a deeply non-violent encounter, in which identity becomes. not a jealous and brutalizing but a generous and revitalizing force.

When conceived and constructed in this way, our identity is transformed into something that is not doomed to survive forever, as Englishness has been, by marginalising, dispossessing, displacing and forgetting other identities.

It becomes an identity that has essentially lost its recruiting power, its hegemonic dimension, and is made immediately attractive because of it. I don’t want to give the impression that this new concept of identity as a powerless and perfect system. Like all other forms of social constructions, there will always be dimensions of power within it. But our identity need not be quite so framed by the extremities of power and aggression, violence and mobilization as the earlier forms have been. And this new concept of identity moves us on into a different politics, into a different world of social relations in which diversity and unity are opposite sides of the same coin. A world built upon a shared commitment to democratic principles and upon the vision of a diverse humanity. A world which, in its very diversity, unfolds the richness of what human beings might be.

Tjelk-Punkt (Checkpoint) Copenhagen

Street work amongst the disadvantaged youth of Copenhagen


The purpose of this project is to establish, in some cases re-establish, a useful link between the socially most disadvantaged juveniles under the age of twenty and the social welfare system. This is done with a view to providing pertinent assistance to a given juvenile in a way that they can appreciate it as such.

The target group consists of socially vulnerable teenagers who:

• have major family problems;

• have no positive contact with their parents or the social services;

• do not have a positive social net work.,

• have a long history of being placed in institutional care;

• a are involved in prostitution, drug. abuse and crime.

The staff group

The staff consists of seven full-time employees: a project leader, a deputy for the leader, three social pedagogues, one social worker and one assistant. There are also one-two volunteer workers.

How does Tjek-Punkt operates

Our work consists mainly in reaching out to the disadvantaged young people through street work. We always work in pairs. As street workers in various environments, we always behave as guests who, furthermore, have invited themselves. This means that we are ready to withdraw at any time, should the young people not be interested in our presence or in establishing contact with us.

The sustained contact with the local environment obtained through street work has, among other things, a preventive effect: By establishing early contacts wits a young person, a process of social drift, such as starting up as a prostitute or a criminal, may be stopped. We also work on keeping in touch on a regular basis with the young people, and others whom we get to know in the locality, in the course of our work.

The juveniles can be counselled in the street and maybe given a meal. Should the young person in question and the relevant welfare authority be willing to co-operate, the situation can be handled as an urgent social case.

Our client group consists of those juveniles we encounter irrespective of whether they are registered at the Copenhagen branch of the National Registration Office. Approximately half the young people we work with are registered in Copenhagen, the rest come from all over the country.

TJek-Punkt has an office in a small shop which is open three evenings a week, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and one afternoon a week, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.. It is open to the young people without prior appointment. They may then get a hot meal, have a talk, watch television, make telephone calls, wash their clothes, get their hair cut and so on. During the day, with an appointment, the young people may visit the office when they want to get in touch with the welfare office or with a given institution.

Working principles and attitudes

Free will, anonymity and involvement are the guiding principles in Tjek-Punkt’s work. This applies to both street work and case work. Free will means that we never coerce the young person into co-operating with us or the welfare authorities. This means that a lot of time is spent encouraging the young person and strengthening their resolve to do something about their situation.

Anonymity means that the young person can receive counselling and care without having to disclose personal data. Experience has shown that most young people wish to retain a certain degree of anonymity only during the initial stages. It is, however, important that the young person sets the pace at which personal information and data is made known to us.

Involvement means that the individual teenager is involved in all the work, such as making phone calls, drafting of letters and so on, pertaining to their case. The young person is to be assisted in becoming a direct participant in their own case and not merely kept up to date on the progress of the case in the system.

The implications of Tjek-Punkt’s working principles are of signal importance in the work with this particular group of socially disadvantaged youth. They are, or feel that they are let down by their family and the social welfare system. This is why it is crucial that the young person in question is willing, or encouraged to be so, to consider treatment, placing in an institution or some other form of help. It is vitally important that the encountered by the young person, are credible, consistent and have their minds set on maintaining the contact, even when there is resistance from either the young person or the welfare authority. So, two significant aspects of the work are providing care for distressed juveniles on the one hand, and on the other, offering them support by accompanying them to the various instances of health and social authorities.

Because of this, the work has two lines of thrust, towards both the young person and the responsible social authorities.

Motivating young people and gradually building up their self-esteem through involvement, requires that we encounter them in their own environment, both physically and mentally. Mentally meaning that we take into account what they are capable of at the time, with a view to what it takes to make them willing and capable to take matters in hand themselves.

Workshop - Ian Threlfall - NACRO



In November 1997 the White Paper ’No More Excuses - A New Approach to Tackling Youth Crime in England and Wales’ was published This was followed by the release of the ’Crime and Disorder Bill’ in December 1997. The Bill is likely to receive Royal Assent in the summer of 1998 and many of the proposals contained in this legislation will be implemented during 1999. The proposals will be piloted before fun implementation. These pilots are to start in the Autumn of 1998.

The Home Office published ’Draft Guidance on Establishing Youth Offending Teams’ in February 1998 and further guidance for the implementation of measures will be produced in the near future.

This paper is a brief guide to assist in the early stages of the implementation process of the Crime and Disorder Bill. It is hoped it will encourage local level discussion by providing a basic framework for multi-agency planning. It is vital that youth justice planning is integrated into the wider responsibilities placed on local authorities and the police to establish partnerships and strategies to reduce crime and disorder. Youth justice planning should be harmonized with other functions such as children’s service plans and educational development plans.

Given the multi-agency nature of the Crime and Disorder Bill, early planning is required in order to consider the Home Office consultation and guidance documents and disseminate this information to practitioners in a variety of disciplines.

Methodical - clearly structured planning and implementation methods will allow for youth justice plans to be linked to complementary strategies such as drug action teams and youth service provision. Planning will need to consider the management structure for Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) and combined and/or pooled budgeting arrangements. Youth justice budgets could be forecast by utilizing impact analysis, local crime and services audits, and evaluating pilot sites and projects.

Stages of Implementation

Assuming that the Bill is enacted in June/July 1998, its implementation will take place in three stages:

1. Immediate measures - 1998/1999

2. Interim measures - 1999/2000

3. Full implementation - 2000/2001

The following tables aim to provide an outline of these stages.

NACRO Briefing -Youth Crime Section

Youth For Diversity Project - Birmingham Leisure and Community Services

Surinder Arken and Sangeeta Soni


The Youth for Diversity project is designed to celebrate the positive value of ethnic and racial diversity in Birmingham through the contribution that young people from different communities make to the cultural life of the city. The project asserts the value of young people’s own cultural wealth and attempts to harness their energy and creativity for the benefit of society as a whole.


To bring together young people between the ages of 16 and 25 from different cultural, racial, religious, economic and gender backgrounds including young people with disabilities.

To work on specific manageable projects in which some difference can be made to the lives of young people and the wider community.

To enable the young people, and any adult groups that they work with, to work across generation and race and ethnic and cultural boundaries.


The project developed from as a result of the Asian and Arab Workers Conference on Ethnicity, Ethnocism and Identity. This looked at ways in which diversity can be celebrated and how different communities could work together, particularly at a time when there are moves to separate provision and development for communities. In a city that is going to have nearly half its school-leaving population as originating from minority ethnic backgrounds by the year 2000, the prospects of severe inter- and intra-group conflict in an atmosphere of economic decline become very real. Statistics show the number of reported racial incidents are rising alarmingly, and a substantial proportion of these involve young perpetrators and victims. The growth of these conflicts on race and ethnic lines also affects the service delivery of youth work, moving to fragmented provision based on increasingly particular needs and the resulting increased competition for scarce resources. There are also an increasing number of examples of violent conflicts between minority ethnic groups. Conversely, there are a number of young people who value the diversity of the city and would want to contribute to and maintain the richness of experience that this offers.

The Project

The Project consists of four interest groups. Each group is encouraged to recruit from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and to use this diversity within their work. Although the groups work separately in their own programmes they are united on occasions through a period joint meeting with the adult support group and via the training programme which all the interest groups are involved in which is accredited by the Open College Network. In this programme the young people can work to NVQ qualifications at level 1,2 or 3 covering core modules in:

Communication and teamwork

Project Planning and Implementation

Living and working in a multicultural society ( including Cultural Studies and Issues of Prejudice and Discrimination)

Additionally interest groups can undertake specific training e.g. Drama Skills, First Aid Certificate, Global Learning

1. The Tamil Nadu Project

This group of 15 young people represents white, African-Caribbean, Indian and Pakistani young people. They are connected to three charitable organizations in Tamil Nadu; BLESS ( a health project), CEDAR (an employment development project) and The Florance Home Foundation (working with children from the slum areas of Cuddalore).

The project works as an Exchange Visit where young people from Tamil Nadu are sponsored by the project to visit Birmingham and young people from Birmingham spend three weeks in Tamil Nadu working on various projects. For example in 1998, helping to construct toilets in twelve villages, tree planting, making kitchen gardens, running a health clinic in conjunction with local doctors, running informal education sessions with local children and creating play resources.

The group works together throughout the year in fund-raising, planning and preparation and in maintaining contact with their partners.

2. The NAYA Theatre Company

NAYA involves Asian young people from different religious, national, cultural, social and gender backgrounds who are interested in moving into drama and theatre work. It provides for gaining relevant skills in performance, improvisation, script writing, set design, sound, lighting etc. The group at the moment is 12 young people including young unemployed as well as University students. Currently they are working with Aquarius ( a Birmingham based project working with alcohol abuse) to produce a drama production to raise awareness about alcohol abuse. The group recently performed at an International Mental Heath Conference. The next plan is for a multicultural pantomime celebrating the cultural diversity of Birmingham which can be performed at Diwali, Christmas, Vaisakhi and Eid.

3. Multimedia Project

A collaborative project between Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs and the Youth for Diversity Project. This is working on ways in which cultural diversity and the voices of young people can be reflected more positively within the community. Activities underway include:

A soap opera based around culture, gender and ethnic diversity in contrast to the stereotypical portrayals seen in many soap operas.

A documentary based on similar objectives.

Trying to set up a local youth radio programme or local youth station or 107.7 status.

Developing Internet material which represents the work of the group and YFD.


This group which is just underway is mixed group of mainly African-Caribbean young people from Newtown Community Centre partnering a group of elderly white people in a programme which develops the interests of both groups. It is envisaged that the young people will take the lead in planning and implementing a programme of activities which will be beneficial to both groups, but success will lay in both young people and elders taking ownership of the project. Bringing together such a diverse group may be very educative and has the potential for a number of stereotypes to be challenged within a supportive environment.

The project is funded for two years by Birmingham Leisure and Community Services Department. A Steering Committee of interested adults from a range of backgrounds includes also young representatives from the various interest groups. In this way all Officers of the Steering Committee - Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer share in the management functions of the whole project.

Mme. Catherine Picard MEP (France)

Juvenile Crime: Prevention and punishment compliment each other

The Commission for Law and Order, set up by Lionel JOSPIN, has adopted a government plan of action for fighting juvenile crime. This commission is active throughout the country, but its efforts and resources are mainly concentrated in the 26 départements which have the highest crime figures. This organisation will rely on closer coordination between the ministerial departments, but will also expand its cooperation with local agencies and organizations. The aim is to make a judicial response to each criminal offence committed by a minor.

Violence in schools, setting fire to vehicles in the inner cities and an increase in antisocial behaviour conspire to produce “a fear of the young”, also exacerbated by sensationalist coverage of these events by the media. Society no longer understands these young people, said to be full of “anger”, “hate”, attacking anyone and anything, demanding attention the one day, guilty of threatening behaviour the next.

However, this negative view of youth is not new, nor is the worry caused by juvenile or adolescent crime.

In the 19th century, youth was already regarded as an unstable and potentially dangerous social group. The description in 1867 of the misdeeds of the “Vitasse gang”, made up of youths aged 13 - 16, would not be out of place in our newspaper reports today.

Whatever the reasons, this type of crime is a sign that attempts to create some form of social responsibility have failed or gone wrong. However, we must be quite clear that this crisis only affects a small proportion of minors.

First of all, we should not confuse crime committed by the young and crime committed by minors. The “young” category represents a much wider group than that of minors. In terms of social status, people remain “young” until 25 or sometimes even 30. However, being a minor is a legal category which ceases at 18 regardless, both at civil and criminal level. The status of minor corresponds to childhood followed by adolescence. From the age of 18, a person is no longer a minor but a young adult. However, it is this period, from 18 to 25 or 30 when crime is particularly rife.

In spite of the difficulties and vulnerability that are an intrinsic part of childhood and adolescence in particular, most minors do not suffer any particular problems. The surveys that have been conducted by INSERM (National Institute for Health and Medical Research) show that the majority of adolescents communicate normally with their parents, go through the education system without mishap and enjoy good mental health. We must not forget the numerous young people who are involved in community life, have a social conscience, fight racism, for example.

However, a minority of children and adolescents (15% - 20%) does have serious problems. According to INSERME, one adolescent in five claims to have been the victim of violence, be it physical or sexual. And one pupil in sixteen between the ages of 11 and 18 claims to have made a suicide attempt.

Young people who have been the victim of violence during their minor years generally find it more difficult to integrate into


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