Feminist youth work in the North West

// 5 December 2008

This sounds like a great project:

From a base in Manchester, and with a focus across the North West, a collective of academics, youth work practitioners and young people have come together to ‘do something’ about young women and girls’ youth work.

“When OFSTED came into the youth club, the boys we playing on the pool table and the girls were hiding out in the toilets”

“In the session there were young women who had never worn make-up in their lives, and they had all been given by their youth worker a ‘Girl’s world’ head to practise putting make-up on… and I thought… have we stepped back to the 1950s?!”

The increasing emphasis on crime and disorder within youth work has meant that agendas, focus and, inevitably, funding, is being directed toward work which is diversionary, targeted at young men, and starts from an ideology of ‘prevention’.

Good youth workers on the other hand, start from a position of possibility, creation not consumption and participation. But the support for ‘progressive’ work is patchy.

In youth work settings, the inevitable dichotomy emerges therefore, of boys at the pool table or playing football, and girls doing make-up or creating raunchy dance routines.

An end to sexism…. are we nearly there yet?

So this is what we have done: we have created an online archive and resource for young women and girls’ work from a feminist perspective at www.feministwebs.com which includes ideas, session plans, tools and levers for change. We are now in our phase two (or ‘second wave’ if you will!) in which young women from across the North West are being trained in oral histories and are going to go out across the north west collecting archive materials and stories from older feminist youth workers that were active in the 1970s-1990s. So spread the word, get involved, and urge young women you know to go out there and learn how to fly a plane instead of always doing their hair and nails… it’s time to bin the beauty box!

How can you help?

Join the feminist webs facebook group to find out whats going on.

Donate to the cause through the ICA:UK donation page.

…if you are a young person or a youth worker then get in touch and let’s see whats possible!

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 5 December 2008 at 4:03 pm

Excellent news that feministwebs.com are challenging the now widespread perception that reducing crime means the central focus is on boys and also enforces sexist and grossly outdated notions of what femininity and masculinity supposedly comprises.

Such outdated and sexist ideas are all part of the backlash against women’s and girls’ rights which are constantly being eroded and dismissed as irrelevant in our pseudo post-feminist world. Girls are more than just boy’s sexualised toys. Likewise boys are not all identical wherein it is presumed all boys play football, or engage in playing pool.

Sarah // Posted 7 December 2008 at 9:53 am

I’m still a student, in Birmingham, but I work part-time for an alternative education provider – http://www.hybridarts.co.uk. I teach geeky stuff like photoshop, flash, and other creative/computer stuff. We don’t have many girls in my current class, but there is something I’ve been promised which is still in the applying-for-funding stage, which will be a course designed to improve the self esteem of young women, designed to target the rape reporting rate in Warwickshire, which is apparently the lowest in the country. There is certainly still a bit of a shortage of girls interactive media, technical design and animation, and I think it’s important for them to know that they can do it as well as anyone else. Young people have a tendency to give up and say they can’t do it.

I’m not an expert in these pieces of software, I’m currently studying general graphic design, but I can do it.

The problem with this stuff is equipment – computers and software.

Don’t know where I was going with that, thought I’d post it :) Might move to Manchester at some point in the future.

I was certainly hiding in the toilets at summer schools. it was bloody awful. I thought it was just me!

Katherine Howell // Posted 27 July 2010 at 1:04 pm

Hi There

Please take some time to read the below about ITV Fixers and what we are able to offer young people!

Our project is called ITV Fixers and is a charity funded project backed by the ITV name and brand. The aim of the project is to help give young people aged between 16 and 25 an authentic voice, offering a positive image of young people and helping them to achieve something creative. It is genuinely an exciting opportunity for young people and will cost them nothing other than time!

The aim of the project is to work directly with the young person/ people and support them to voice their views.

The Fixers project has already been up and running for some time in the South of England and is currently expanding up north. We will support young people between the ages of 16 and 25 to take action on or speak out about any issue they feel strongly about. This support comes from our youth workers and also our creative team who can help with many things including setting up websites, making films. We will cover the expenses required to carry out most projects.

Fixers come from across the range of cultures and backgrounds. They include hard-to-reach young people, such as young offenders, people with disabilities and those not in education, work or training.

Since we started broadcasting, there are now 1200 Fixers and 140 projects. ITV Fixers gives them the resources to carry out their projects and get their voice heard….whether it be by creating a website, an event, a pop video, a film etc.

All Fixers projects made so far are featured on our website http://www.itvfixers.com . It is well worth a look to see what we have helped young people achieve so far with our pilot in the South. Some projects are selected to be featured for broadcast in the ITV regions once a month. (only if the young people want this) So far in the south we’ve covered a wide variety of creative projects including one Fixer’s bid to rid her city of plastic bags, a campaign to save a town’s beach, and a young woman creating a website to help other young people who have experienced child abuse.

Young people can discuss possible ideas and get back to us and we can help shape their projects. If they think they would like to do something but are not sure what, we can come and brainstorm with them, offering guidance There is no formal application process or pitch to complete, it’s just a case of getting in touch and talking it through. It is a great opportunity for young people to take action on an issue and feel empowered.

I’ll attach you an electronic flyer in a separate e-mail as it is a substantial document and may take time to open.

You can contact me on: katherine@itvfixers.com or by telephone: 07855 212 498. I hope to hear from you soon! I’m happy to come and visit you to talk about it more and also any young people or groups of young people to brainstorm ideas. I would appreciate if you could you confirm you get this e mail so I know it’s arrived.

Kind regards,

Katherine Howell

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