The state of youth work in austerity England – reclaiming the ability to ‘care’

Hughes, G., Cooper, C., Gormally, S. and Rippingale, J. (2014) The state of youth work in austerity England – reclaiming the ability to ‘care’. Youth and Policy, 113, pp. 1-14.

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This article draws on the narratives of community and youth workers who attended a meeting held with the authors to examine the neoliberal restructuring of social policy and the subsequent impact on practice. The article contends that community and youth workers navigate a system which portrays young people as problematic. This jars with their value base and practice, which views young people as having potential. The erosion of care within global and local neoliberal regimes privileges performance measures over working with people. The article examines the mirrored experiences of community and youth workers and those they engage with – both encountering feelings of disempowerment, caught in the bind of a ‘double jeopardy’, a construct which highlights service users needing to feel cared about and workers wanting to care. The austerity cuts applied by the neoliberal regime impede this relational process through decreased resources, which in turn means that time is taken up with monitoring and evaluating funded outcomes, eating into time of the actual work of ‘what needs to be done’. Community and youth workers have little space to discuss and engage with the feelings they experience as a result of the incongruent nature of their increasingly bureaucratised role which conflicts with working towards enhancing young people’s quality of life. They expressed a need to find spaces of safety to articulate feelings and explore ‘what is to be done’, working communally with academic partners to reflect, but also to regain confidence sapped by the brutalising neoliberal regime.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gormally, Professor Sinead
Authors: Hughes, G., Cooper, C., Gormally, S., and Rippingale, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Social Justice Place and Lifelong Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > People, Place & Social Change
Journal Name:Youth and Policy
Publisher:National Youth Agency

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