A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
A while back I heard Irvin Turbitt speaking at a leadership conference, and a key thing that struck me was his statement about ‘standing on the balcony’. His view was that in our often frenetic work context, we are all on the ‘dance floor’ in with the crowd, dancing longer, harder and faster than everyone else and we have a limited perspective on what is happening around us. In order to get perspective, we need to get on the balcony, take time out to view the patterns on what’s happening and reflect on what that means to us and from that how we move forward.
The idea really appealed to me, initially as I love dancing and being in that crowded space (although now sadly too old to get into most clubs!) but also as our key role in Partnership for Young London is to get up on our balcony, get that overview, and support organisations in understanding what’s happening.
So what have we been doing up on our balcony?
Over the last month, we have completed our second piece of research around Future Models for Youth. This work has been ongoing now for nearly two years, with the first review completed over 18 months ago assessing what was happening for youth services at a time when austerity was beginning to impact dramatically on local authorities and the services they can offer. The second review (just completed) then considered the impact of the changes on the voluntary and community sector.
Overall, we gathered feedback from 17 London boroughs, covering their different approaches and future plans.
It is no surprise there is no single approach and that the level of local variation is immense and the report outlines a number of case studies which may be of use to other regions to compare and contrast what’s happening.
Less surprising, for many of us, was the increasing focus on targeted services and working with the most vulnerable young people. Most of the people we spoke to said this was the key driver for them currently with less money and potential further reductions in budgets.
The report also highlighted the diverse models of commissioning ranging from all in-house to all contracted out and a myriad of variations in between. The final report is available on our website and we have been using this information to support organisations understand the changes through workshops and training sessions.
The next stage on for us will be in-depth reviews in four London boroughs, this is being supported by London funders and the focus is on ‘freely accessible services’. We are just starting on the conversations now and will post more information later on; a key part of this will be looking at how funders can take a strategic approach to supporting voluntary sector groups at a time when many of them are under considerable pressure.
In the meantime, we will endeavour to regularly get up on the balcony and keep an overview of what’s going on metaphorically and I will personally try and come to terms with the fact that I can’t get into most clubs anymore…
Download the reports >
Partnership for Young London