So today marked the day when the targetted programme to help young people get Jobs programme, known as NCS was given effectively royal ascent in the Queens Speech. A programme that channels young peoples future into predetermined outcomes relating to employability became the nationally recognised government statutory provision for young people in England.
Yes, thats young people who might have been excluded from school. Young people who might not even want a job.
The Details are here.
The Government have decided that a way of working with young people that has an educational philosophy, that ideally would build work with young people as primary clients in the process, that when it happens would recognise the gifts of young people – regardless of socio economic, educational or family background, or postcode is worth spending time with, listening to and educating and learning with.
That is all gone. For the same price that statutory youth provision cost. A national jobs programme is rolled out instead. It is not a cost cutting decision. but an ideological one.
Education that causes political awareness because of the power structures it threatens is replaced by politicised programmes that process young people to jobs and pre-desired outcomes with NCS. If its that good, it should have a 100% success rate. It may have viability in whatever todays world is, but job programmes have existed for a while. Theyre not youthwork.
So, the gauntlet is laid down. Yes i know there are a few voluntary groups trying to scramble around fighting for ideologically restricted funding to work with a few ‘disadvantaged young people’ but….
Church if we’re serious about community transformation then we need to recognise the oppression of the young people in our local communities. Liberation for them will only come if we walk with them in their communities, building on what they have and recognising the powers that hold them back.
Church it is over to us to provide practical and prophetic youth work. Practical that walks, lives and listens. Prophetic that it challenges with young people the powers and structures. Practical that it gets its hands messy. Prophetic that it transforms.
People like Frontier Youth Trust and Streetspace with their 52 Projects are doing this all over the UK, and hopefully with more in the North East soon. (see http://www.fyt.org.uk, and please give to their cause as they do this)
There are others, but as a national church, CofE, here is a plea. As the national church, make yourself present in communities with young people. Do something brave and stupid, employ youthworkers in every parish. Resource spaces for them to gather young people, to educate, to provide spaces of interaction, to subvert the government thats closed all the spaces away. That gets its hands dirty to enable communities and young people to flourish.
This is not meant to the opportunist plea to fill the gap, this is the plea to carry on the christian values that youth work stemmed from, (democracy, voluntary participation), to practice being dreamers of a better world where hope, peace, love and equality are realised. Carry on the work based from Christian values that the government has effectively disregarded, and to use the same metaphor has stuck two fingers up towards.
The Government today might have stuck up two fingers to the universal youth service, the sad truth is that any movement that tried to challenge the government ideology since the 1980s was going to be reigned in and have its political wings clipped one way or another. The challenge is for the church, to develop youthwork that regains not only a practical, long term educational liberative view, but is also able to prophetically exercise unclipped wings in the process of political and social liberation, that may also enable spiritual flourishing too.
Maybe the church should stick a prophetic and metaphoric two fingers up to the government and take on universal youthwork provision in its entirety. Maybe thats what the faith groups are already doing and have done so through a myriad of uniformed groups, agencies like YMCA all along. after all thats where it all started…
(Dyfc (a streetspace project ) is the only deliverer of faith based detached and voluntary mentoring with young people in County Durham if you can give to it please do so in the link above thank you.)