Youth Research & Knowledge

In Defence of Youth Work invites expressions of interest in contributing to new book

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The establishment of this section of the website was in many ways inspired by theIn Defence of Youth Workmovement, who are now looking at the possibility of publishing a second book. They would like to draw and expand onThis is Youth Work: Stories from Practice, which explores the value and values of youth work through stories from practice.Theyinvite expressions of interest in contributing to it;find out more here.

The book would:

  • continue to support youth workers in whatever settings they are working;
  • continue to support youth work as a distinctive practice of democratic education;
  • again seek to generate stories as evidence of its value and impacts
  • draw these stories from both open access/voluntary engagement and targeted and non-youth work settings such as schools, youth offending and housing associations
  • use the stories to open up the debate on such questions as:

Is the practice youth work?

How is it youth work?

How is it not youth work?

  • offer guidance on using story-telling in planned and rigorous ways;

Stories would be sought to illuminate key focuses of the practice - for example:

  • Youth work space and how young people use it.
  • Risk, play and unpredictability in youth work.
  • Anti-racist work; work with LGBT and disabled young people and with young women.
  • Personal - professional boundaries in youth work.
  • Resistance, subversion; activism, social action.
  • ‘Participation’

The book would also address key elements of the story-telling process such as:

  • The facilitation of story-telling workshops.
  • Supporting workers to write up their stories from practice.
  • Story-telling as staff development
  • Story-telling as part of individual critical self-reflection
  • Story-telling as part of Service monitoring and evaluation.
  • The use of story-telling within qualifying courses.
  • Story-telling as resistance - to defend youth work.


During 2014 IDYW will explore ways of publishing a hard copy and/or web version of the book.


  • At its first national conference in 2009 IDYW agreed to bring together stories which would illustrate youth work’s distinctiveness as a practice with young people.
  • With generous funding from Unison and Unite unions, a thousand copies of This is Youth Work were published in 2011. The book’s twelve stories from youth workers and young people were analysed to highlight some key defining features of youth work practice.
  • During 2012 the book was distributed widely - many through eleven workshops focused on the book. These attracted some 330 workers, students, tutors and managers and both re-affirmed the ‘cornerstones’ of open access youth work as defined by IDYW and considered how participants could contribute to defending it in the face of huge cuts and the shift to targeted provision.
  • In the light of these changes, workshops were re-focused on new story-telling in order to allow participants to explore what youth work practice meant for them in their current settings and its relationship to the emancipatory and democratic youth work advocated by IDYW. Ten of these workshops will have been held by the end of 2013.

If you are interested in contributing to the project, contact Bernard Davies:

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