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June Reading List


Michele Di Paola proposes a convincing case for developing a digital youth work strategy from a youth worker’s perspective. Di Paola highlights the key preconditions for setting up a digital youth work strategy as understanding how the ‘transformation of the digital sphere’ has impacted our values and behaviours and its impact on youth work values. His proposition considers what values digital platforms promote and how practitioners can equip young people with the skills and knowledge to compare their own values with those promoted by digital platforms. Thus, to develop a digital youth work strategy in a meaningful way, there is a substantial need for digital youth work training, affordable connectivity, and recognition of youth workers as key stakeholders in the conversations around digitisation. Acknowledging that online platforms are not neutral, youth work should aim for digital tools ‘designed by the youth sector, for the youth sector’. Finally, Di Paola highlights how to achieve quality digital youth work through co-creating cross-sector collaborations promoting digital youth work training, research, and study to ensure informed policy and allocation of resources; and the involvement of young people as co-creators of strategy and digital youth work programmes. – Zunaira, Research and Projects Assistant 


In this blog, Bond, the UK network for organisations working in international development, outlines some of its findings and advice around income generation for international non-governmental organisations (INGOs). Supported by Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, Bond spoke with experts and charities to explore whether generating income can not only help with the financial sustainability of organisations, but also support a shift in power to social activists and communities. Their insights for INGOs included ensuring income generation aligns with charitable objectives, considering alternative trading models, and learning from similar models within the domestic sector – such as the Enterprise Development Programme. – Soizic, Enterprise Development Manager 


Following on from a landmark report on social mobility published by colleagues of the Sutton Trust in 2005, the Trust has continued to propel its work forward to help combat low social mobility through its programmes and research. To mark the Sutton Trust’s 25th anniversary, its latest report looks back at the findings from 2005 to see what has changed, as well as looking at new and updated estimates of mobility patterns and future trends in the UK. Key findings highlight that social mobility research has rapidly grown over the last 25 years, with the report stating that there has been a five-fold increase in publication rates and an exponential increase in UK print media mentions since its 2005 report. However, while social mobility continues to remain a policy focus, young people are predicted to be at a stark disadvantage coming out of the pandemic. As we brace for a cost-of-living crisis and continue to witness widening inequalities in public life, we risk a ‘step change’ down in mobility prospects for today’s low-income young people compared to other nations, as described by the report’s author. The report recommends a long-term strategy for systemic change and targeted support for young people navigating their education and early careers. It is an important and timely read for anyone working with young people.  – Hannah, Research and Evaluation Lead 


Girls who learn to serve: an ethnography exploring the gendered experience of school-based volunteering is a recently published article in the Voluntary Sector Review. Emily Lau undertook a year-long ethnographic study - observing, interviewing, and leading focus groups with student prefects and staff within an Academy secondary school in south-east England. The study focussed on the expansion of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme into disadvantaged communities and the ways in which this was navigated by students and staff. Lau found young people were coerced into school-based volunteering (so-called mandatory volunteering) and how this varied for girls and boys. Lau also found gendered experiences in the opportunities available and the ways that this reproduced societal classed and gendered inequalities. The article gives an in-depth view of the experiences of six girls and shows the rich benefits of small and in-depth studies to understand the relationships between young people and the adults who work with them. - Tom, Executive Director 


In this fascinating podcast, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation interviews two experts in adolescent mental health – Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego University and author of iGen (2017) and Generation Me (2006, updated 2014), and Yvonne Kelly, Professor of Lifecourse Epidemiology at University College London – about trends over the past couple of decades. It includes a discussion on the COVID-19 pandemic and how this has amplified levels of depression, self-harm, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health issues. In particular, both experts discuss the role of social media and its links with mental ill-health, and highlight the similarities and contrasts between what the data in the US and the UK tells us about the declining picture of mental health and well-being in adolescence. Both professors highlight the relatively recent development of the notion of ‘safe spaces’ for young people, and end with a reflection on policy recommendations they would make to their respective governments around access to social media and smartphones. – Steve, Head of Partnerships 


Ethical Research Involving Children has shared this really thoughtful book chapter from Alex Toft and Anita Franklin, which explores the ethical and methodological issues in undertaking research with disabled LGBT+ young people. It is a short, powerful, and accessible chapter that - through focusing on disabled LGBT+ young people - sheds new light on some recognisable methodological challenges in research with young people more widely. Toft and Franklin provide a timely reminder that, whilst the notion of research on young people is far behind us, particular oppressed groups can still be treated (whether intentionally or not) as passive research subjects. Supporting young people to be truly empowered in the research agenda is challenging, and there are still clear groups of young people whose ‘voices’ are less well established than others. In particular, the authors provide considered reflections and suggestions around key elements of the research process, including: 

  • how we reach out to young people in the first place and doing this inclusively; 

  • navigating consent and championing young people’s right to participate; and 

  • negotiating language and identity labels with young people. 

I would invite anyone embarking on research with young people to give this a read – there is something for everyone to take away. – Jo, Project Manager 


What did you long for over the last two years when you couldn’t come together in person? This question has been on my mind as we at the Centre have been starting to run more in-person events again - along with questions about the costs, logistics, accessibility, and inclusivity of hosting training online versus in-person. I found this short blog on ‘the Art of (Re)Gathering’, from Deb Halliday at the Collective Impact Forum, really helpful in weaving together some key questions and considerations for deciding whether or not to bring people together, and on doing so in a thoughtful and intentional way. Halliday draws on points from a keynote speech by Priya Parker (author of The Art of Gathering) and Melody Barnes (the Aspen Forum for Community for Solutions) during the 2022 Collective Impact Action Summit, grouping reflections into a number of key themes: 

  1. Start with WHY; 

  1. Hosting is power; and 

  1. We have an opportunity to reimagine how we gather. 

The blog also ends with a useful reminder that ‘gathering is a skill we all can learn’ - for both those who host, and those who attend. – Catherine, Organisational Learning Lead 


This brief from the Wallace Institute reports on the findings from youth-led research into the experiences of marginalised young people in out-of-school-time (OST) programmes in the USA. The research project was designed and led by a team of 11 young researchers in a youth-led participatory action research (YPAR) process, and surveyed 191 14-19 year-olds to explore experiences of and barriers to participation. Approximately 45% said they had sometimes been treated differently than others in an OST programme because of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, or religion, highlighting the mechanisms that may be affecting inequitable outcomes. Three main barriers to participation included the inequitable distribution of programmes across schools and neighbourhoods; admissions criteria that exclude young people based on age or ability to pay; and adults and peers who act as gatekeepers, withholding information about available programmes from certain young people or groups of young people. – Kaz, Director of Strategy and Learning 


This new report from the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) shares emerging learning from the Pears Foundation #iwill Fund NHS Network, exploring the meaningful contribution and impact of youth volunteering programmes across 32 NHS Trusts in the UK. The report details how Trusts were supported to embed and deliver youth volunteering programmes that met the needs of their individual young people, institutions and localities, and the transformational impact this had on medical staff, health settings, and young people themselves - including increased confidence, a sense of connection and belonging, and strengthened career prospects and ambition. The contribution of young volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly admirable, with many young people stepping up to fulfil in-hospital support roles ordinarily held by long-standing volunteers, who were often older or particularly at-risk. – Hannah, Communications Manager