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Building alliances, choosing allies: Taking sides in youth work, research and activism Tania de St Croix (King's College London; Voice of Youth; In Defence.

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Presentation on theme: "Building alliances, choosing allies: Taking sides in youth work, research and activism Tania de St Croix (King's College London; Voice of Youth; In Defence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Building alliances, choosing allies: Taking sides in youth work, research and activism Tania de St Croix (King's College London; Voice of Youth; In Defence of Youth Work)

2 The politics of alliances The youth field is often a relatively small field.... Has youth work been able to create alliances to preserve its existence?... The alliances are often other bigger sectors or external funders, which lead to another kind of questions: What is the threat of these dependencies? For example, strong engagement with the social sector can put more emphasis on work with marginalized young people and their families, and make the youth sector appear as an instrument of social work or as social work itself. The consequence of alliances can also contribute to dissolution of youth work. (Lasse Siurala, 2014)

3 Whose side are we on? Youth work as co-operative / youth work as critical Is conflict uncomfortable? Being neutral = supporting the status quo (Paulo Freire) Alliances are political

4 In Defence of Youth Work indefenceofyouthwork.com Illustration: JethroBrice.com

5 Refusing alliances? Street-based youth work Image: JethroBrice.com

6 Me and my mates we’re always getting some look from the security guard, or you know, security cameras. We’re not trying to be bad, we’re not starting any trouble, we’re not doing anything wrong. But it’s the mentality. (Young person quoted in Wilson, Rose & Colvin, 2010)

7 Detached youth work – detached from the establishment? When you're on the streets you're like, you're not in that position of power. (Tracey) Detached work is about building relations, just talking to young people, finding out where they're at, what's pissing them off, what they enjoy, but letting them know that actually you're not the police, you're not an authority. (Olly) I think it's the only space in youth work where I think they can lead and it's not too target focused. (Lucy) (All names have been changed)

8 Working with the police? Tracey’s story

9 It was like, 'we're doing this, we fund you, you need to do it like this.' And of course immediately your back gets up. Cos you're like, well, no actually, I'm not so sure as I want to walk around with the police. Because I'm not so sure this is gonna help our relationships with young people and how they see us. (Tracey)

10 We stuck to our guns and they said 'well if you don't do it like this then we won't fund you, you will lose your contracts with us and we won't pay you.' […] And it was brilliant because my chairman was like, 'well actually what you're saying to us is you own the purse strings. Well actually, this type of work doesn't fit in with what we think our remit is, our mission statement. And we won't do it.' So that was amazing. (Tracey)

11 Building critical alliances

12 Choosing youth work’s allies… indefenceofyouthwork.comvoice-of-youth.org Note to online readers: I am aware that this presentation is not self-explanatory! me if you would like a copy of the accompanying talk.


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