The NCS debacle continues, Young people are set to lose out twice.  

I saw this in the locally printed county Durham news a few weeks ago. It’s an advert in a paper for adults to appeal to them to send their children on a life changing experience for a week. For ‘not more than £50’. Looks a bargain doesn’t it? Until that is the true cost of NCS is weighed up.

1. Young people in some of the most deprived areas are being ‘given’ a week of a programme that still costs £50. Has NCS got any idea of the level of food bank use in the north east, or school meals. £50 is alot of money for some families even.if is subsidised.

2. Recent reports have been that NCS has struggled to attract young people from the most disadvantaged or at risk. I’m sure advertising in Durham County tourism news will doubt part of its £72 million over 5 year advertising budget. What has also been suggested is that agencies who do work with young people at risk (who have to find non government funding to stay free at the point of access, such as detached work ) could be used to signpost young people to a service that has been government endorsed and bankrolled that will still cost £50 for the young person..where is the relational aspect in signposting in this, let alone the fairness for the agencies.

3. If effectively the government subsidy of NCS is money diverted away from open, weekly youth club provision, Why couldnt the government just fund the free provision in the first place.

4. I know of at least 5 young people who have done NCS, one who was badgered by 4 telephone calls from a London office to participate. None would have gone to a youth club, none needed it or used it for anything other than a gap week in their summer holidays. None described as disadvantaged. None needing advice on future choices. Therefore all well.behaved young people who could be made out to be NCS Success stories.  No their parents deserve the credit.  For stumping up £50 and for giving the young people all the support required to make decent life choices, NCS was a weeks activity holiday.

5. Instead of youth clubs open in the twilight,  in the evening, when young people want social spaces. NCS occupies daytimes for one week.  It is not there, not available. It is what it is.a tory government citizenship programme to educate/bribe in a week the importance to young people of pursuing economically active /contributing lifestyles. Not that this is wrong per se, but to have this as the replacement for the kind of youthwork in open clubs that would help to get young people to this point as one of many options in an environment of voluntary choice and participation.

6. The government’s idea for educating young people is a £50 activity week. Let that sink in.

It just feels like it beggars belief.

However, It now looks as though those inspecting NCS have discovered this too.

Here the Government accounts committee suggests that a radical rethink is required:

Oh, and when it is a commissioned and privately run project, with several millions of pounds being transferred, it is open to abuse and bad management, this is what has happened here:

Privatising working with young people away from the youth services – was this a good idea? – Now the truth is being found out, both financially and practically, and not only will young people lose out because of the demise of NCS and the limitations it can offer, but also lose out because the open youth club that had been subject to underinvestment has also closed down. either way young people lose out, and the burden of their care, and the potential of transformation lies elsewhere. But where..


Youth work? Church; its over to you. (again)

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.

Two Fingers to Youth Service as NCS put on Statutory Footing

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, 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.)





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