Youth Participation and the Big Society
One of the big changes in political dialogue since the coalition government came to power has been the emphasis on ideas of the 'big society'. The big society is not a fixed policy programme, but is a loose collection of ideas - including ideas about localism and citizens taking on roles that previously may have been carried our or co-ordinated by the state.
I've reflected before on whether there is a clear notion of young people in the big society, but a really useful recent paper from the North West Regional Youth Work Unit takes the discussion further - setting out a range of different approaches that have been taken to young people's participation over recent years and asking how each will fare within a discourse of smaller state and big society.
With their permission I've put the document online using a tool that lets you read and comment on particular paragraphs - so do take a look and share your thoughts on what big society means for approaches to youth participation including:
- Youth led grant giving
- Youth inspectors
- Shadow boards and youth panels
- Youth councils and fora
- Campaigning work
- Regional youth fora & youth parliaments
- Peer education
- Short-term projects
- Rights and advocacy work
- Health service participation
- Youth-led organisations
Dan Moxton's analysis for NWRYWU notes that formal structures might have tougher times finding the resources to engage more excluded young people - but that peer-leadership and volunteering programmes (not strictly youth participation in most definitions, as the report notes) are likely to fit right in with big society rhetoric and action. Youth-led grantmaking faces an uncertain future with the loss of central YOF and YCF ringfenced funding, although for some in the YouthBank movement who saw YOF and YCF as a distraction from effective youth-led fundraising and grantmaking - this may present opportunities as well as challenges.
To add your comments just click the speech bubble icons next to each paragraph. I'll try and round up some of the discussion and post a future blog item here with a summary of some of the thoughts shared...