Category: work

Hi, My Name is scott. Today I want to talk about…

Last night, I was getting ready for bed when I had something approximating an epiphany. It was a thought that popped into my head and made sense of something I had been thinking about

“what does the Scottish Government policy document say about this?”

I admit that not often have the words epiphany, Scottish Government and Policy document met in a sentence but there you go. I cannot control my epiphanies.

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 09.00.41
This thought was important as I am taking part in a couple of small gatherings over the next few weeks. On Wednesday and Thursday I am at the inaugural IASYM Celtic Colloquium gathering in Belfast. This is a gathering of churchy youth work type people to discuss practice etc. The aim is to gather those who are about masters level or thinking doing a masters and have a mix of full papers, outline papers, and subject explorations for those thinking of starting something. I am first on the programme. That is right “headlining” the first morning. Looking the world of socio-economics, Christin Faith Based youth work (anything to push up the word count(!)) and Play. It has been interesting how much this new study has come out of my masters study when I have started preparing for this thing. Anyway two days in Belfast, it should be fun.

Secondly on saturday the 12th of September I am doing something on at the Youth Work Summit Nano Scotland. Which is a snappy title kinda. I will be talking about volunteering and my own experience trying to put into conversation how my thoughts and feeling about volunteering changed from being a volunteer – to being a part time worker – to being a full time worker – to being a part time worker – to being a volunteer again. I have hit upon some great stats on church volunteering.
“In England and Wales, 31% of the population contribute 87% of the total hours volunteered, and a more concentrated 7.6% of the population provide 49% of hours volunteered (Mohan, 2011). This “civic core” is a generally middle-aged, well-educated, religious, owner- occupying section of the British middle class, who dominate civic participation.”
Jings 50% of all volunteering in England and Wales is done by 8% of the population. Thats bonkers.
I also am planning to introduce the world premier of “the curve of awesomeness and goodness” which is a lovely thing to see and work with. Anyway tickets still available from he website above if you do christian based youth work type stuff and fancy being at what looks like it could be a fun day.

N.B. No word on which headlining slot I will be getting. I am hoping for the prestigious post lunch slot (Snoozetime) or the equally prestigious pre lunch time (hurryuplunchissoontime) but don’t think i have the weight to carry off either of those slots so who knows.


What is Youth work? (in the style of “since you asked”)

by Dave Walker of cartoon
What is youth work?

What is youth work? That is easy, right? It is about working with young people.
Well you would think it is as easy as doing what it says on the tin, you work with young people. The problem with this viewpoint is a lot of people work with young people and if all youth work is can be defined ultimatley by age group of the people we work with it gets silly fast. The bus driver driving a school bus is a youth worker, for example, and frankly that get tiresome. So those who work as youth workers had a think and tried to work out how to explain it better.

But defining by age is so simple and simple is good.
Simple can be good, but often it is not the elegant solution. Look at a teacher (if one is in the room, if not imagine one), a teacher is not defined by the age group they work with, teachers are defined by a purpose, a recognisable nature and a set of practices which they carry out to a certain skill level. The age group is the context within which they practice.

So it is defined by what you do and the skill in doing it?
Yeah thats the idea. The Scottish Government set up an agency called YouthLink Scotland to over see youth work and its development and its 2005 leaflet entitled the Purpose and Nature of youth work is definitive for youth work in scotland. It says the Purpose of youth work is
“• Build self-esteem and self-confidence.
• Develop the ability to manage personal and social relationships.
• Create learning and develop new skills.
• Encourage positive group atmospheres.
• Build the capacity of young people to consider risk, make reasoned decisions and take control.
• Develop a ‘world view’ which widens horizons and invites social commitment.” (Statement on the nature and purpose of youth work, Youth Link Scotland, 2005, p2)

ok that sounds admirable what about the nature.
Hold your horses, Youth Link first throws in a nod to the age question and say youth workers should be doing this with 11-25 year olds exclusively, with a particular emphasis on 11-18year olds. Then they get to the nature of youth work which has three features, young people choose to participate, the youth work must build from where young people are, and it must recognise the young person and the youth work are partners in a learning process. (Statement on the nature and purpose of youth work, Youth Link Scotland, 2005, p2)

Learning process?
Yip. youth work is educative process. not to be mistaken with formal education and learning about geography or maths or stuff. Its about learning life “[within an analysis of youth work]… learning from being part of group life remained a key element … each of these traditions encouraged us to focus on learning through conversation, experience and relationship.” (Youth Work Practice. eds Jeffs and Smith, 2010, p2)

That seems a bit vague?
Youth work is a bit ambiguous, That is why I like it. Jeffs and Smith point to the benefits of youth work being, Privision of Sanctuary, Enjoyable activity for the young people, Personal and Social Development, Relationship and community and appreciation. (Jeffs and Smith, 2010 p5-7) concluding – “The benefits associated with youth work in civil society raise serious questions around the direction of many current policy preoccupations.” (Jeffs and Smith, 2010, p7). The problem is that the people who pay for youth work on the other hand dislike this ambiguity. Not unreasonably, they want results, tangible benefits from the money they are pouring in, (although I am not sure how realistic current models of assessment are when the questions being asked is about the the reality of working with people). The Scottish Government & Youthlinks first big youth work publication was Step It Up in 2003, a framework for working out what youth work is and assessing it. Step it Up introduced the term effective youth work on a policy level and pointed scottish youth work on a path to the established professional status for youth workers.

Effective Youth work?
“Effective Youth work is both developmental and creative. It can and does lead to the development and growth of social and emotional competence. The central purposes of youth work outlined above, when linked to significant indicators of social and emotional competence, can be used by young people and youth workers to demonstrate personal and group development.” (Step It Up , Strathclyde University and the Princes Trust, 2003, p12-13) Effective youth work has been at the heard of Youth Link Scotland existence, pushing youth work to become more demonstrably valuable in the eyes of funders and political overlords.

Demonstrable emotional competences? is that something you can demonstrate?
The aim isn’t to say you will always in prescribed manner or deal with things an emotionally competently. It is to say you can act in those ways and you know that way is good. That’s what our society is based upon, people acting toward a notion of wha is good. This is a central development of youth work practice and has led to the latest youth work policy document of the Scottish Executive (Our Ambitions for Improving the Life Chances of Young People in Scotland, National Youth Work Strategy 2014-2019, the Scottish Government, 2014) pushing youth work and formal education together. Continuing the effective professional move of youth work from a broader welfare under social work to being part of education.

So youth workers are like teachers.
Both are educators, one is more formal the other informal. one is dealing with skills such as maths and english, the other with skills around community and personal emotional competences. In order to deal with this the Community Learning and Development standards group have developed a professional standard for those involved with youth work, (A code of ethics for Community Learning and Development, Sercombe &Taylor, 2010). The aim is that in conversations between formal education and youth work, both can be viewed as on a level playing field with each other. Youth work becomes a profession with a basis in a ethical position. Professional workers are recognised by the CLD standards body and by the government, this could give Youth Workers and Teachers equality and a professional respect for each other.

Ok, so if that is youth work, how does the work you do in churches fit in?
That is an astute question, lets deal with that next.

Feedback from the audience on my #isaym2014 paper


Wells being for designation. Is prayer being for? if so did Jesus spend more time in being for than Wells gives him credit for?

You asked a question in the slides – Did God have enough Plasticity? good question, but the question that is bothering me is does Call of Duty have enough plasticity to be used for youthwork?

Is this a pink fluffy model of youthwork which is idealistic but is unable to be used in when working in Pirority areas youthwork.

You quote moltmann, rahner and Miller from the late 60’s 70’s, but was there engagement actually specific to that time frame that its usage here is inapproriate?

Good ground to go on and do further study, with young people, theology of play, etc.


Good pragmatic dealing with an everyday thing, and questioning what we do and Its application in spaces wider than computer games.

Important – creating space to do youthwork. – Linkage to anderw root’s concept of a concrete location of God’s precence in the world.

Potential space.

Working for = using the computer games as attractions.

Issues around selling youthwork linked with issues of consumerism and is this something youthwork needs to explore further?

reflections on #iasym2014 paper

Last night I gave my paper at the IASYM european conference 2014 in the Czech republic. My reflections are still reasonably fresh. But important. So this post is (primarily for me to reflect on) and secondly anyone else interested.

The group was small. I was up against two other papers both of which had very strong appeal, so I had realised in advance I would have a small group.

I was conscious that standing at the front talking at people would seem bizarre for the group. So I asked people to move into a small semi-circle and we sat together and talked, the small number lent an informality to the session which I felt was good and helpful. Although I wonder if I talked too fast. As I think standing to speak brings a different physicality and a consciousness that you are addressing people. (Speed of speech was a key point as english was the second language of most people in the room.)

The conference had not sent out the papers to everyone, nor was there paper copies available. I asked for some paper copies to be made, and I think it was the right call. It allowed for following along even if you speech was not clear.

Again my written english need some serious work. When writing for an international audience, (small number but intelligent and well travelled,) my unique use of english is distracting. Clarity is the key.

My paper was 6500words, in order to get into the time for presenting I had to loose 2000 words over the 24hrs before the talk. I need to write more frugally but clearly.

The paper gives some models, Sicarts adapted version of gadamers hermeneutical cycle, and Wells four categories of social engagement. They needed a visual element to make them clear, the clarity of the model was lost in my wording.

Time wise I think I was on time which I think is always welcome!

In the end I think I made a decent go of a first presentation paper. I showed up on time, I my presentation worked, I was able to work computer software in Czech langauge, I read my thing, answered some questions, hopefully looked relaxed, packed everything up and took my rubbish with me.

Good Job

Clearspace cinema programme for this week coming.

This work I am working with Greyfriars church Lanark on their holiday club, Zefi’s Zoo. We have 125 children over the week, I am mostly dealing with the primary 6&7’s.

In the afternoons we convert the church into a family cinema. Each afternoon we will be showing a free movie. The movie is for everyone in the community, and not just those who are at the club in the morning. Bring your whole family! Doors open at 2:15pm for a 2:30pm start each day.

The movies planned for this week are:

Monday 7th – Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 2
Tuesday 8th – Furry Vengeance
Wednesday 9th – The Lion King
Thursday 10th – Smurfs 2
Friday 11th – Frozen

If you are free over the week and fancy watching a film on a big screen with 100 other people drop in.



My entry in who’s who, recognising my executive professionalism

As you all know I am famed for my executive prowess and professionalism but even I was slightly surprised to be informed I am to be entered into who’s who.


As you are more than likely aware, you were recently selected
for inclusion in the new 2014 edition of the Who’s Who Among
Executives and Professionals.

Despite our efforts, we have not yet received confirmation of
your biographical profile, and are reaching out to you again
in an effort to do so.

Click here to verify and confirm your profile

The tradition of the Who’s Who reaches back more than
100 years to a time when the prestigious and accomplished
were featured in a yearly publication that defined high society.

Today, the Who’s Who provides a useful resource where business
professionals, academics, and Executives are both recognized for
their achievements and provided with an unparalleled networking
resource. Using our database, you can make global contacts,
discuss current events and happenings with your peers, and
establish yourself as either a mentor to aspiring professionals or
further your business network.

Our goal is to seek out the premier executives and professionals
throughout the world. There is absolutely no cost or obligation
for your biographical profile. Simply click this link to fill out
the appropriate biographical fields.


I suspect this may actually be a sales type email but to be honest I am being professional enough not to click in the links!

#honestly #somepeople

Articificaliality, Connectedness and Young People

Been wondering about how we encourage development and model ways to support. Particularly in community with young people. Youthwork at a basic reckoning is about being community with young people and providing support and room for development.

Tonight i picked this article off of twitter. In it Fuller coins a lovely phrase of humans using computers to “extend and amplify ourselves.” how we engage with machines rather then in direct contact. (when’s the last time i went into my bank branch?)

Today I was chatting with a small group of children after church. One of the children told the story of walking in on someone doing the toilet in the school toilets. I joked that meant they had now to be friends. The rule is once you have seen someone on the toilet, you have to be their friend forever.
The girl asked what if she didn’t like them. I replies thats fine, just become their friend on facebook, then you never have to talk to them again. At the core of my comment is the artificiality within relationship and the ability to amplify ourselves which Prof Fuller is talking about.

For young people adolescence is a time for profound disconnecteness. it is a time where this ability to extend and amplify yourself is key to survival.

Walking down the streets with their ears blocked up with earphones, listening to their music, gives a sign that they are ‘disconnected’ from the unbearable social, political, and religious complexities that we adults have created. In a certain sense, they drop their gaze so as to exclude themselves because we have excluded them with our corruption and inconsistency, with uncertainty, unemployment, and marginalization. We parents, teachers, and priests, the ruling class, we must examine our conscience. The ‘diversity’ of youth, which in fact is not only negative, contains surprising seeds of fruitfulness and authenticity. We need only think of the choice to volunteer made by many young persons or their passion for music, sports, and friendship, which is their ways of telling us that man does not live by bread alone. We need only think of their spirituality, which is so original in its sincerity, or their freedom, which is hidden under a blanket of seeming indifference.

I like this analyisis from the cardinal. It is bleak and yet hopeful. it does seem to do alot of them and us with young people though. He almost implys being young isn’t of equal merit. perhaps i am being a bit harsh there.

I was speaking to a 14 year old boy about computer games. When the conversation got onto the subject he went from quite withdrawn, to being animated. He told me how he felt different in the game. in control. able to make a difference. safe to fail. able to care widely fo those in his team or those in the game he was to protect. I wondered where in real life he would get these opportunities. I wondered if in a world of artificiality being good at artificiality in the from of games was something to be commended highly.

I wonder where I extend and amplify artificially. I wonder where I lose direct contact with other humans. I wonder if I struggle with this, how can I support and help a young person with their development, yet avoiding the negatives i live out.

My favourite film of this youth experience is “Napolean Dynamite”. Through it you see Napolean live with the weridness of being young. At the end of the film (spoiler alert!) he comes through and rescues the day for his friend Pedro. The scene has a real edge of awkwardness to it. The music stops, he sheepishly stops, A silence fills the senses, and Napolean runs. Having put himself out there the immediate response is silence.

Hopefully I can do better than that. The young people i work with deserve better than that. Anyway off to update my facebook and write some e-mails.

Age is just a number. (Chris Moyles, Radio1 and Youthwork)

Whats the perfect age of a youth worker? Why is youth work build on a conveyer belt of young adults? What does a youth worker need to be effective? I am a youth worker. And I am 35 years old. This is old for a youthworker. I feel a bit like the Danny Glover charactor Roger Murtaugh in the Leathal Weapon series of films. (His catchphrase “I’m too old for this shit”)

So what to do? There are three main routes open to old youth workers.
1 Management of other youthworkers. – one such model I have studied is build on older experienced youthworkers, managing the face to face time and activites of other younger sessional workers (generalisation I know, but generally true.)
2 Academia – go into studding more and researching, finding a space to ask good questions and find answers.
3 Transfer to a related field – ministry, counseling, community policing, formal education, charity work.

Was think about this with the news that Mr Chris Moyles, aged 40, has decided to move on from the BBC radio1 breakfast show slot. What provoked these questions and thoughts was the interview between BBC radio1 Controller Ben Cooper and BBC radio4 media show host Steve Hewlitt. (transcribed below for you, broadcast Tuesday 10th July 2012, the same day it was announced Mr Moyles would be moving on.)

SH – So why is it right to move on then, in your view?

BC – In my view, I think what I need to do in my role as controller of radio one, is get a new generation of presenters on to the schedule to attract a new generation of listeners. and so toady is part of that wider strategy of altering the schedule.

SH – now, the BBC trust have pointed this out, they have a target for radio one of listenership between 16 and 29, now that’s what they think its key demographic should be. At the moment the average age of listener is 32. more worrying is a sense is that the number of young viewers is going down and the number of old listeners is going up. Do you think dropping Chris Moyles will help you with this?

BC – OK there’s about three things there to try and unpack. Y’know I think. The trust have asked me to get the average age down. as you correctly say from 32, into that bracket of 15-29 year olds. Today’s announcement is part of that strategy, and I think it is right that if the trust are asking me to do that as controller, I make every effort I can to do that.

SH – I suppose the point i was trying to get at was, do you think the age of the DJ per say is a key issue?

BC – Not the age, I think its about your ability to relate to an audience, (being talked over)in general terms, about a schedule, for example

SH – (interrupting) – and he doesn’t?

BC – (continuing) – John Peel was a certain age but still very relevant and very cutting edge in his new music. When you are talking about, and if you want to be more specific about Chris, what I had in mind was he had done this very successfully over 8 and a half years but he couldn’t do it forever. What I wanted him to do was for him to go out at the top of his game.

SH – So in terms of, whats the key then to to attracting young listeners do you think? Is it personality or playlist, is it music or presenters?

BC – Well you’ve got I think, two key ingredients in music radio. so it’s the music you play, so we have looked at our playlists and made some alterations there. Its the people who play those records and whether or not they can engage and get into the zeitgeist of being young in the UK. And then its also about the events that we put on, and i think the combination of those three are the levers of the control that you can play with.

(Click here for programme information)

Mr Cooper makes several key points in relation to what it takes to work with young people.
– Age isn’t important, but your engagement and ability to get into the zeitgeist of being young in the UK.
– Age isn’t important but if you want to work with younger people, you need to employ younger workers.
– You cannot go on forever in the same roll, a new generation of young people needs new people to engage with.
– The main things you can control when working with young people, what you do normally (for radio1 play music), staffing (for radio1 presenters), the things you build towards (for radio1 the events they put on).

I am not sure I agree with everything he says.
I do agree with the first thing in any youthworker is you ability to engage and get into the zeitgeist of being young. I don’t agree that need younger workers to work with young people. Nor that in order to appeal to new young people you need new people in a new roll. The reality is that the perception of youth work as a job for the youth is long standing and wide spread. I also believe that being 35, and having been involved in youthwork as a volunteer and paid worker for the last 19 years i still have something to offer to young people. I have skills and abilities which can be used well. I think there is alot in this and will return to it.

But i wonder why this strikes me now. Is it that I am a 35 year old youth worker. Perhaps my impending move beyond the first half of my life is weighing heavily upon my thoughts, influencing the way I am seeing things. Perhaps seeing my primary self identifying role as direct contact worker with young people disappear from my employment options. Perhaps.

Who better to work with young people than young people?
Perhaps others. Maybe you?

Categories: thinking work youthwork

#DeepImpact2012 lost feedback form.

I lost my feedback form for Deep Impact 2012, the christian youthwork Conference with I recently attended. So thought I would feedback here. Limited to four points.

1 location
Good venue

The market place was in a good space and the big tables worked well for meals.
The Food was ok.
No coffee after meals seemed strange for a hotel.
Some of the workshop rooms were too small for workshops they hosted.

2 programme
The physical programme looked good, perhaps it could be printed on glossy paper?

Ceildh/pub quiz – missed the pub quiz. Not sure it worked.

Optional worship times
Seemed (understandably) constrained by venue restrictions,

Morning prayers sat am
Informal to the point of seeming unprepared. Took a slightly bizarre turn with invitation to confession of secret sins or headaches part.
In general fine

Rural youthwork workshop
Some useful questions

Best bit of the weekend.

Main sessions sat am,pm sun am
Key note Speaker spoke entertainingly and told nice stories. Not sure his message actually fitted into what the weekend needed to say to the audience.
The band musically were fine, although they only reflected one way of worship.

3 Scottishness
Good to see that workshops were mostly run by Scottish based youth workers but I think my main reflection was the conference didn’t feel particularly Scottish. Deep Impact is marketed as Scotland’s national youthwork conference, but I felt it lacked a distinct Scottish voice. If it was there which it may have been, I couldn’t find it.
The worship sessions seemed to be based on a vineyard churches model of worship, (Californian 70’s Jesus people).
The speaker was English and all his examples were English, entertaining and fun but English.
Is there a distinctively Scottish model of worship which could be used? What would that look like?

4 Development
I wonder how different the programme was in form and structure from the first deep impact? Not too much from my hazy recollection. I wonder if there is scope for a radical rethink and reorganising of the programme.
I may have missed it, but there seemed a lack of edge to the conference which is the raison d’être of youthwork?

the weekend conference seemed to go well, and people seemed to enjoy it. I enjoyed parts of it as well and hope this feedback can help the consideration and planning of the group who organise the next one.