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Posted on Friday, March 14, 2003

Minister for Young People addresses London CYWU Conference

A very positive exchange was held with the Minister at the London Youth and Community Work Conference. London Regional Rep Bernie Bristow pointed out that the Minister meant what he said when he would refuse Transforming Youth Work Monies if Local Authorities were at the same time cutting their mainstream budgets. Ivan Lewis also clarified that even the very best local authorities in overall service delivery could not escape close scrutiny of their Youth Service performance. No local authority will get beacon status and avoid closer inspection of its youth services.

In a wide ranging speech the Minister clarified the balance of support and pressure he was bringing to bear on local authorities to re invest in Youth Services. “I recognise the years of under resourcing and under valuing, but Youth Services must now become mainstream.” He went on to appreciate the positive values of youth work methods and the role of the voluntary relationship with young people in engaging them meaningfully to make a difference.  He recognised too that it was quite wrong to limit youth work to the social justice and social inclusion agendas. He therefore praised the work to advance youth work as a recognised and valued profession and the role of JNC in this.

Delegates called on the Minister to keep a critical eye on Connexions while recognising its dominant funding and political agenda.

Community Work leaders gains youth work support

Alison West Chief Executive of the Community Development Foundation had delegates to the recent London Community and Youth Work Conference spell bound with her down to earth, this is how it is and should be, contribution. “For years we fought over who was next on the Roneo, now we are fighting over multi million pound grant allocations,” said Alison. Her speech concentrated on the advantage of the full integration of youth work and community work provision and from recent detailed research from the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit she demonstrated the impact that integration of community activities for young people and cross generational work really had. She condemned the “zoning of young people” into separate spaces and showed in example after example how the segregation of age groups in local communities caused division. “We are an endlessly subdividing society” she said, it is time to talk of uniting characteristics. “mixed aged community venues” are the best she asserted by reference to practice and studies of the social impact of various forms of provision. “Some see small beings and hate them,” she said, “they see slightly older young people and see a criminal and want to shoot them”. Such stereotypes of the young can only be counteracted in localised multi age group projects.

Alison also challenged the stereotype that young people lacked self esteem and confidence, "Our research does not bear this out. Young people have loads of self esteem generally, they just lack confidence in negotiating the sytem". 

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