I was at a meeting of the South East Youth Partnership (SEYP) International Committee up at the British Council Offices in London on Monday. The Committee comprises representatives from local authorities and the voluntary sector from across the South East Region. Our remit is to promote and support International Youth Work, with a particular focus on the youth in action programme funded through the European Commission.
As the committee started to plan ahead and look at International youth work strategically across the region it became obvious that we were trying to do this against a background of disquiet and uncertainty. With reductions in services happening across the South East most people were unsure whether they were going to actually be in post in October (the date we were planning a promotional and getting started event). Some services are in the middle of restructuring, others were going through their second or third round and yet others had not yet started.
We had a long discussion to decide what sort of an event we should put on, whether we should hold one at all and who to aim it at. In discussion it was clear that there was definitely no one shape fits all in terms of services. In West Sussex we are in the midst of restructuring to form an Integrated Youth Support and Development Service, incorporating the Youth Offending Service, the Youth Service and Connexions although who will actually deliver the services is still to be decided. In other areas there is no youth service with youth workers being in integrated teams managed through Children Services Managers.
It was felt that International Youth Work is starting to be seen as the ‘icing on the cake’ and a ‘nice to have’ so there was incertainty over how ‘managers’ may perceive the benefits of releasing staff to attend a training day on accessing funds in this way. However after much debate we decided that we should go ahead with a promotional / training event. With many grants ending in March 2011 (in particular the Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital Fund) the Youth In Action funding could be used as a means to support some of the work that was previously covered through the YOF funding. In particular the Youth Initiative part of the programme could be helpful as you don’t even need to go abroad to apply for and gain the funding. The event will be targeted predominantly at practioners.
So – the event is going to go ahead and I will post more details as it gets organised. In the meantime it is worth reflecting on the support that many colleagues need in this period of uncertainty……where Change is the only certainty!