A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
In this week’s blog, Charlee Bewsher from Youth Work Unit – Yorkshire & Humber explores the move of Youth Policy to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport following Theresa May’s appointment as PM and the resulting cabinet reshuffle.
So Youth Policy has moved, with Rob Wilson, from the Cabinet to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Lots has been written on this in the last week, for example ‘From Education via Cabinet to Leisure – so much for youth work as informal education’ by Tony Taylor: “The 21st century version of Parks and Cemeteries” for one point of view, which I have sympathy for. We have already witnessed the reclassification of informal education as character building, and the confusion over social action, participation and positive activities. I am sure this most recent move will bring more confusion before clarity. I look forward to the Youth Policy paper that I know so many have worked so hard to bring about later this year.
The opportunities this move brings have yet to be explored, but I would like to put a few forward. One of the remits of this department is Media. Is now the opportunity to challenge the negative stereotypes perpetually promoted by our mass media of young people? Surely, now that youth and community are part of this little group, they would want to promote the positive of an internal department? Communication is another huge area, developing the national broadband strategy and promoting Internet safety to name but two responsibilities, both of which are close to the hearts of young people. Young people want a voice about the issues that concern them; affordable housing; debt; mental and emotional wellbeing; votes at 16; curriculum of life; education; transport; hate crime, to name but a few. Perhaps the youth sector can use our new found home to develop new communication opportunities to make sure young people not only have their voice, but that it is heard by a wider audience. The adult listening project is still a challenge, with delegates at the recent Northern Powerhouse event for young people and decision makers commenting that they would like more contact with policy makers and their MPs. NCS will potentially provide a bridge between departments, with its use of physical activities and sport as a team building tool. If we could extend NCS across 365 days of delivery, as well as recognising the amazing work that other organisations do similar to NCS, and could get a financial contribution towards these projects, as well as the volunteering young people do outside of NCS already, there are endless possibilities. So while I would like youth work – in all its forms – based firmly within an informal educational approach, to be recognised for the huge positive impact it has for young people and the wider community is a good thing. Possibly we have opportunities to grasp as well.
Charlee Bewsher, Youth Work Unit – Yorkshire & Humber