This weekend, I went up to Solihull to steward at the national Choose Youth rally. This was a number of organisations and trade unions coming together to make a noise about the threats to youth services around the country – both local authority and voluntary sector.
This was the biggest rally I have attended in my time as a trade unionist – over 1000 people. And it was a very diverse group. 120 young people had travelled up from Devon. There were pensioners from the Midlands. Youth workers, youth work lecturers, trade unionists, MPs, councillors and more.
The event looked very impressive. Big video screens meant you could see everything that was going on wherever you were in the massive hall. There were activities to take part in, performances and some great testimonies from young people as to why the youth service should be kept.
A couple of my favourite quotes from the day:
£6 billion awarded in bankers bonuses would fund youth service in England and Wales for 22 years
‘I walked out in the student walkout protests. My teacher asked where I was going. I said I was hoping to go to university.’
“we have a saying in my school, doing a Clegg, it’s when you say one thing and do another”
You can view footage of the rally here, join the campaign on Facebook, and see what others have said by looking at the #chooseyouth hashtag on Twitter.
Tonight I did something odd. First, some context.
I used to live in Peterborough, where the MP is Stewart Jackson of the Conservative party. As such, I followed him on Twitter – you can see what he Tweets about here. He got in some bother once by Tweeting that sex education increased the STI rate.
Anyway, I don’t live there anymore, but never unfollowed him. Tonight, Mr J tweeted:
‘Not Going Out – rare example of brilliant BBC comedy’
A brief exchange ensued, the jist being ‘What about such and such’ covering classic and more recent comedy. The upshot was that I agreed with a Tory MP.
I fear I may be disowned shortly.
Also – who knew Stewart Jackson likes Gavin & Stacey?
I don’t consider myself to be politically active, however compared to the average person it seems that I am. I am an active member of a trade union, and a member of a political party. I have also voted at every election I have been eligible to vote in, European, local and national.
I have attended a number of meetings, conferences in rallies, mostly around youth work and defending it. Today there was an event in London – Netroots – discussing the pros and cons of online activism. And today dear readers I ask you to get involved in that and sign an online petition: http://www.petition.co.uk/withdraw-proposal-to-cease-the-whole-of-the-youth-service-in-warwickshire
Yes, the council in Warwickshire want to scrap the entire youth service to find the savings required of them by the government. I believe that this would be a false economy. Youth works often work with groups of young people – professionals who do interventions higher up the scale of need tend to work with individuals, which is more costly. In fact, youth work was found to be very cost effective by the Audit Commission.
You can read more about the Benefits of Youth Work here.
As a youth worker I have seen how the work can benefit young people from all walks of life, and it promotes values – such as equality – that I think are really important for society.
So, if you agree, then please add your name to the petition. If not – lets have a heated debated!