The art of conversation

Many writers will state that conversation is the key factor of youth/community work (Batsleer, 2008; Jeffs and Smith, 2005; Young, 1999).

Paulo Freire claims that conversation/communication and experimentation are at the heart of an individuals learning (Freire, 2010).

So then what is the key to conversation? How do we maximise the amount we learn from each other? My suggestion today is by asking as little questions as possible!

Yes it’s true, during recent Child Protection training we were told to wait and converse at an individuals pace and to not ask questions. Instead using simple acknowledging words or sounds lets the other person know you are listening. Questions guide conversations, for example when you ask how someone’s day went they will begin to tell you, if you then ask them what they plan tomorrow they will then begin to let you know this…however, maybe if you left a pause at the end of their first answer they would have thought of more about that topic and continued speaking -leading the conversation more naturally.

Although to some people this suggestion may seem natural and to others it may seem alien, all of us should reflect on our conversion skills and improve them. Through conversation we make realisations, through reflections we develop and through communication we share information. As an informal educator and a reflective practitioner it is my job to ensure that I encourage expression in others, I hope this will help me in doing so.

Thank you


Speaking out about the recession and cuts affecting young people

Cuts to youth and community services are an emotional topic for me both as a young person and as a youth worker. Due to these two factors I know that I am bias within this topic and so below I will try to construct a piece of writing on the youth service cuts using others opinions and provide links so that anyone who views this can look up the topic for themselves.

In October BBC news and other newspapers reported how 1000 young people had gone to London and protested against cuts to their youth services (find BBC link below). This article aims to explore young people’s opinions on youth club cuts and the reasons behind their feelings.

On July 31st 2011 the Guardian made a video report of how young people felt closure of youth clubs would make local teenagers bored and possibly give people or ‘gangs’ a reason to be violent. One week later Riots broke out in London, so what did young people express on the Guardian’s video report?

‘People are intimidated by us like, there’s nothing to do, if all my friends was here you would see the type of behaviour I’m talking about,’ Young male (1).

‘When they did close their youth centres and they didn’t even elect young people, so it was like one day the youth centre was there and then the next day it was gone,’ Erika Lopez.

‘It’s another thing when youth clubs and all that get shut down it cuts Kids roots off and links, they don’t have anywhere to go,’ Chavez Campbell.

‘There’s nothing here for us,’ Young male (1).

‘Everybody used to go to youth clubs, it’s not even like they made youth club and no-one used to go,’ Young male (1).

There seems to be two issues within this video report one is the closure of youth clubs and the other is gang-crime, which the video expresses will be further influenced by the closure of youth clubs. Young people express that with the current economic climate it’s harder for people to get jobs and money –so they may take things from others.

One of the young people Chavez Campbell from the video has a second video made after the riots that you can access here

Young people not having the opportunity to go to a place which is fully theirs and which they can use to make friendships with peers and experiment is one of the issues of taking youth clubs away from young people.

Yes I did say ‘taking youth clubs away from young people’ because young people feel targeted, this becomes apparent during the BBC article on young people protesting over the cuts to services.

“I think they’re cutting young people’s services because we’re easy targets – because we can’t vote and we can’t hold them to account,” Deyontae James.

“The government always complain that all young people – us – are out committing crime or on the streets, but if they’re going to close our youth services, where do they expect young people to go?,” Group of young people.

“They talk about gangs on the streets and giving people something to do – this is a place where we can go and keep out of trouble. They’re going back on what they’ve said.” Nickisha Sutton.

“It’s not fair that everything is happening so quickly and all at once, and young people just feel that they don’t really know why this is happening,” Thomas Ryan-Moulder.”(There were) cuts to EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) and (now) cuts to youth services – but there’s no reason behind why youths should be targeted so harshly.”

With a change of times economically and a change in government  which seems to be the forefront of the cuts it is obvious young people feel they are getting a raw deal and being ‘targeted’. Aside from youth club closures here are some other issues young people are facing in our current climate:

Youth unemployment is 21.3% -double the rate for the UK as a whole which is was 8.1%. This is the highest youth unemployment rate since records began in 1992 (, 12.10.11).

During Capita’s ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) Wales Conference (22.09.11) Careers Wales stated that in 2010:

11.5% of people aged 16-18 and 23.2% of people aged 19-24 were NEET in Wales,

7.1% of people aged 16-18 and 19.8% of people aged 19-24 were NEET in Northern Ireland,

13.8% of people aged 16-18 and 18.4% of people aged 19-24 were NEET in Scotland,

10.7% of people aged 16-18 and 19.3% of people aged 19-24 were NEET in England

And the 2010 European youth unemployment rate was 20.8%.

So with fewer services for young people and growing youth unemployment how will young people react? Will we see more people voicing their opinions and asking for a change, more protests or riots? (Please note I am not suggesting the riots 06/08/11 were or were not a result of cuts to youth services or lack of employment).

Thank you


Choose Youth rally: ‘Cuts are causing failing generation’ (25.10.11)

Haringey youth club closures: ‘There’ll be riots’ – video, (31.07.11)

‘UK unemployment total hits highest in 17 years’ (12.10.11)