Uneven Cuts

Hope has sustained me, but as I look at the situation in our country and how uneven, unfair and unjust a situation we find ourselves in, my hope is waning. The reports coming out from organistions such as the highly respected Joseph Rowntree Trust, or the National Council for Voluntary Youth services show how the poorest and most marginalised are bearing the brunt of the cuts. The wholesale dismantling of the youth service at a time of highest youth unemployment is one of the stupidest and shortsighted practices of the last 100 years. Usually the optimist in me would see the idea of the Big Society as an opportunity but already I see that again that it will be the most marginalised that will be most affected. It is already becoming clear that the investment needed to resource work with hardest to reach young people will simply not manifest itself, either in terms of people, skills, or money, as the voices of a powerful few sweep up the crumbs of what money is left, or baton down the hatches and become even more insular, to weather out the storm, and unfortunately this is a pattern I see both in the church and the local authority.
Occupy offered me hope, and as the leader of StreetSpace which has to be one of the fastest growing youth work agenicies my hope is still an ember, but I have to remind myself and challenge to church to recognise the inequality of the cuts, the simple injustice, that the poorest communities and young people are not to blame to for the situation we find ourselves in… so here is my reminder……

Two StreetSpace/FYT development posts

Frontier Youth Trust is seeking TWO dynamic, experienced and entrepreneurial individuals to join the growing StreetSpace network. They will be part of the FYT/StreetSpace team with a development brief to support, and grow existing and new StreetSpace linked projects, as well as be directly involved in one local StreetSpace expression.
Candidates should have experience of Detached or Community youth work and an understanding of emerging culture and church.

Post One – London
This post is full time, (initially funding is secured for 18 months) but the post is expected to be secured beyond this, and applicants must be available to commit to the post for at least three years. The post will be responsible for developing StreetSpace within the M25 (with a possible office base and project base in Islington) or working from home.

The salary is in region of £20000 – £22000 plus a London allowance depending on experience and qualifications.

Post Two – Scotland
This post is one day a week initially but is anticipated to be full time within a year. The worker will be based from home, and be expected to travel throughout Scotland. The role will include fundraising, supporting and growing StreetSpace linked projects in Scotland. The worker will be expected to help contextualise StreetSpace programmes and initiatives to the Scottish context as well as developing dedicated resources for Scotland.

The salary will be in the region of £30000 pro rata.

For more an informal conversation about the roles please telephone Richard Passmore 07830197160. For general information on StreetSpace please visit www.streetspace.org.uk

For an information pack and application details please contact: Leanne Youngson, Frontier Youth Trust, Office S15b, St. George’s Community Hub, Great Hampton Row, Newtown, Birmingham, B19 3JG Tel: 0121 687 3505.

The deadline for applications is 6th January 2012 and Scotland interviews will take place in Glasgow on 11th January whilst London Interviews will take place on the 24th January 2012.


Pulse Rate Research

I have completed the write up my sabbatical research if your are interested. In the end I decided not to write the stories for people but give pointers around some theological narratives that can be used to counter the cultural themes that were identified through the research and that will be emerging in the Western youthwork context in the next few years.

I am aware that there are few academic shortcuts but I was on SABBATICAL!


Final Outline and My Buttons Oddsey

Thank you for the comments and emails in helping me work out the research outline. The various changes have been included and a third stage added. If you are interested in what I am trying to achieve on my sabbatical you can download it Pulse rate research outline.

Lori has managed to secure a new job blogging for Mr Button whilst we are traveling across the USA and you can read about it HERE

Mayor to BBQ

StreetSpace Chard, in conjunction with Chard Town Council, is hosting an event at the local Skate Park in Chard. Following on from the successful Fun Day last July, this year sees competitions for bikers and skates of different ages and abilities as well as games on the MUGA and a BBQ provided by our very own Town Mayor, Cllr Cath Morrison.
The event will take place at the Skate Park in Henson Park, Chard on Saturday 2nd July from 11am to 3pm. This is a free event, open to all young people in the community, with prizes for the competitions being provided by NVMBR and Wheels in Motion. For more information visit Chard Skatepark Comp and BBQ on Facebook Events page. We hope that many will attend the event, the skate park having become a popular destination for skaters and bikers around the region since the completion of the redevelopment of the skate park last summer. If any other businesses would like to support the event please contact Richard Passmore on 07830197160

Caricatures and youth worker Spirituality

Since the Ann Widecombe encounter I have been reflecting on a conversation about how people become a caricature of themselves. That is, as people see one thing in themselves that others like, comment on or creates some some positive reward, that part becomes exaggerated.

As youth workers we swim in the semiotic fluid of culture, engaging young people on their terms and using their language etc. We appropriate the culture we are engaging, critic it, challenge it, and in a worst case scenario it is easy to lose yourself in the process. As youth workers we constantly work with and engage the he more we engage the culture, through newspapers, friends, film and the creators of culture. We live in an outward way making it harder to hear from inward selves. Recently, when I have been speaking around mission and the importance of culture as a source for the divine. The conversations keep returning to the themes of personal spiritual disciplines. This is the source to hear from the inward and brings balance, helping us avoid slipping into syncretism and hopefully avoid becoming a caricature of ourselves.

Henry Thoreau say “when our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper or been told by a neighbor; and for the most part the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper or been out to tea and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails we go more constantly and desperately to the post office. You may depend on it that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters proud of his extensive correspondence has not heard from himself in a long while.”

Surveillence Society

Was sent this great article via the Federation of Detached Youth Workers about the rise of surveillance in society, and rang home having just spotted another CCTV camera (on a pelican crossing!) whilst out on detached. Last paragraph below

Stuart Waiton
Article The Politics of Surveillance:
Big Brother on Prozac
Living in the shadow of the silent majorities the empty elite are constantly anxious, staring out onto a world they sense is beyond their control: A world that has been filled with ever more laws, regulations and forms of surveillance that have become a replacement for morals and politics. This increasingly technical, managerial and authoritarian elite are not Orwellian but are anxious authoritarians. This is a weaker and wetter political elite, not stamping down on us with their boots, but shaking in them.

Only a few generations ago Britain had nearly 3.5 million adult members of political parties, today there are around 4 million CCTV cameras in the streets of Britain: CCTV cameras manned by Big Brother on Prozac.

FaSt TV Dinner with a difference or Now that’s what I call a fresh expression of church

The BBC were filming Streetspace/Church on the edge yesterday. The programme is due to go out on Easter week probably Easter Sunday. The shift had changed from Gen Y and it is now presented by Ann Widecombe (wish they had told me that before!) and is a follow up to the series she did last year but looking at the future of Christianity. This was was interesting and slightly problematic as they used more christian language than I would ever use, as I talk about spirituality a lot rather than christian words which can be loaded. So they asked some the young people what they thought when I when I told them I was a christian, (which I don’t think I ever have in that way) but I explain the project is about personal social and spiritual development before we get to stage 5 with groups. So it will be interesting to see the results.

As well as filming the skate park and interviews they filmed M and M’s and we used the new version of the FaSt game with three groups running at the same time, which worked brilliantly. We worked through the prodigal son and young people shared some really deep issues about difficulties with father figures particularly. It was really interesting to watch the yp share some really heart felt stuff openly but when it came to miming a bit from the story to look around and check they weren’t being filmed first.

At the end of the game you have a choose an action to put into practice based on the theme, and one yp had “someone in the room” so having identified the theme as acceptance he got up and walked down the room to give another lad (the one who gets on everyones nerves) a hug, it was a classic God moment, as he received the hug with a tear in his eye. The fact I never see the lads do anything so demonstrative was surprise enough but the act was courageous and real and blew me away, So I don’t really care about what the camera puts out in the edit, as it was worth it.