Puppets for Equality

Dave Backwith sent the link to this three minute animation promoting equality and the book, The Spirit Level, written by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Picket. To be honest I thought we had run a piece on the book itself, but I can’t locate it. So for an interview with the authors go to:


and for a chuckle click on:


The authors point out that the life-diminishing results of valuing growth above equality in rich societies can be seen all around us. Inequality causes shorter, unhealthier and unhappier lives; it increases the rate of teenage pregnancy, violence, obesity, imprisonment and addiction; it destroys relationships between individuals born in the same society but into different classes; and its function as a driver of consumption depletes the planet’s resources.

From Linsley Hanley’s review at


Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 8:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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Colin Ward: An Inspirational Anarchist

I was just once in the company of Colin Ward, one of the leading anarchist writers in post-war Britain.  Although I was on the outer edges of the group to which he was chatting, I remember thinking, ‘ what a lovely and fascinating bloke’. Sadly he died  a week or so ago.  He is perhaps best remembered for his writing on housing, his support for the squatters movement in the 1940’s, his advocacy of ‘anarchy in action’, direct, mutual and cooperative self-help.

However his great book from a Youth Work point of view is ‘The Child in the City’. Sadly I lent my copy, never to be returned long ago, but I’ve still got a note reflecting the blurb on its cover.

In an evocative and panoramic account of urban childhood, Colin Ward brings to life the myriad and subtle ways in which the child has used the street in the past and still does today. Against this background he asks whether it is true, as very many people believe, that something has been lost in the way children experience their urban surroundings; why some children show endless ingenuity in exploiting what the city offers while others are isolated and predatory; and what can be done, at a time when a significant proportion of the city’s children have come to be at war with their environment, to make the links between the city and child more fruitful and enjoyable for both.

He wrote in this vein over thirty years ago. And as long as we struggle to ask the questions of and proffer the alternatives to the ‘policing of the child in the city’, his legacy will live on.

All that Anguish about Weekends!

At the beginning of last year we had quite a debate on the site about the merits or otherwise of weekend work with young people. Raising the stakes New Labour ordered the prioritising of the Friday and Saturday night intervention. There was much gnashing of teeth on all sides. And as we start the New Year, lo and behold, what do we hear?!

A survey of almost 2,000 young people has triggered calls for a government rethink on recommendations for more youth service provision on Fridays and Saturdays.

Research conducted by Wiltshire Council and shown to CYP Now, suggests young people would prefer youth clubs to be open between Monday and Thursday evenings. When asked to order each day of the week with a preference from one to seven, 81.4 per cent of the young people had Wednesday as their first, second or third choice, compared to only 37.7 per cent for Saturday.

But councils have been instructed to direct more resources for youth provision on Fridays and Saturdays, based on government research conducted among adults and young people in their communities.

More at  Young People Lukewarm including a response from CHYPS – an unfortunate acronym, methinks.

And here’s a response from back in July, courtesy of God’s Lonely Youth Worker.

“My own perspective is that statutory youth services, as they are currently structured, will not fit in easily with regular weekend work and I suspect many Community/Voluntary organisations will struggle to provide consistent staffing.  There are many, many complicated influences which make this issue yet another nail in the coffin of “effective” youth work.  Again, we’re faced with prescribed outcomes.  National strategy tells me who I work with and why I’m working with them before I even meet them.  And now it tells me when I’m working with them.   My methodology which embraces a needs-led ethos but stays within the context of realistic expectations.  The government on the other hand are talking about a non-negotiable, prescribed weekend provision.  Or more precisely, a strategy for reducing the statistics of weekend anti-social behaviour.  It isn’t that I entirely disagree with the principle of regular weekend services, it’s more that I get that familiar anxiety attack about doing the right thing for the wrong reason and vice versa.  This will be another example of pouring big money in to corporate youth services.   This will be about youth services engaging easy targets to meet their outputs.  This will be about creating bullsh!t initiatives to address a bullsh!t strategy.  We know who the government are trying to target.  The ones who engage in weekend binge drinking.  The ones who are involved in or on the periphery of criminal activities.  How are we going to lure these “difficult” young people into positive activities at the weekend?  Accredited courses in knife crime?  Issue-based youth work?  Time will tell.   As I said (in my previous post), my methodology has to operate within the boundaries of reality.  Weekend work with a group would depend on funding availability, group needs (and sometimes group wants), transport availability, availability of resources/facilities, availability of support staff and – yes – my own availability – because sometimes I need to prioritise work mid-week.

I have the greatest respect for people who are willing to give up their weekends to work with young people.  Do I think the youth service should provide consistent weekend provision.  Hell yes!  Do I think it’s possible with the current structures?  Hell no!  I just like to see things done effectively rather than just making the best out of a bad deal. “

The lad has got a point!!

Published in: on February 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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