A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
This week, Charlee Bewsher from Youth Work Unit – Yorkshire & Humber is offering a double whammy of blogs. Be sure to check back on Monday for the second blog post. In today’s blog, Charlee examines ethical dilemmas faced by youth workers when working with young people.
Earlier this week I attended a conversation on ‘Balancing the Needs’; an opportunity for youth voice and youth workers, to discuss the ethical dilemmas we face when supporting young people to have a voice. The conversation was facilitated by workers and volunteers from Turning the Tide, a national charity that provides training in non-violent action and campaigning and has a long history of working with different groups.
Representatives from local authorities, universities, and charities joined me and it proved to be both a difficult and a rewarding afternoon. When arranging the day, we had gone for a short afternoon session, as we are aware of time pressures for everyone. On reflection, a weekend residential might not have given enough time to fully explore the issues and start developing possible ways forward.
Several issues were identified:
I could go on and whilst these were the most pressing, many more issues were raised.
What struck me was the morale of workers; a sense that there was nothing that could be done. Youth workers, in their nature and in their soul, are political beings that strive to re-balance the world and they felt trapped and unable to move forward; caught up in the need to tow a line they didn’t believe in. This sense of despair was picked up by our facilitators who asked us to look for solutions, while acknowledging that there was more work to be done in examining our feelings, so that we could move past these.
So what did we come up with? Partnership and working with others who perhaps aren’t constrained by ‘hidden’ agendas or rules. Who because they are outside of financial or political control, can support young people on issues we can’t. The voluntary and faith sectors have a huge history of campaigning, perhaps it’s time more of us took up these opportunities. The universities offered spaces to meet and expertise in research and outcomes and monitoring. The Network of Youth Work Units, with their knowledge of different groups, can help form partnerships, can support both local and regional campaigning work, put on training for the youth sector and young people, and be a listening ear.
Youth Work Unit – Yorkshire & Humber