Voices from a citizen enquiry (session 1): Youth work under Covid

Voices from a citizen enquiry (session 1): Youth work under Covid

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A chance to hear about the citizen enquiry, hear diary excerpts, and discuss how they resonate with our practice.

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Voices from a citizen enquiry: Youth work under Covid (morning session)

This is the first of two workshops organised on Wednesday 12th May to discuss and share our experiences during a Citizen Enquiry into youth work under Covid, which took place from April-December 2020. This workshop will focus on youth work under Covid, including a chance to hear diary-writers reading excerpts of their diaries, and a chance to discuss what a year of Covid has meant for all of us in youth work. What will youth work look like in future? How do we want it to look? We will gather from 8:45am with a cuppa, aiming to start at 9am. The workshop runs til 11am. Please book separately here if you would like to come to our second workshop later the same day 12:30-2:30pm, which focuses on writing as part of youth work practice, the process of writing youth work diaries, and the Mass Observation archive, and includes a chance to do some guided diary writing.

The Citizen Enquiry and Mass Observation:

From April to December 2020, the Citizen Enquiry into Youth Work in the Time of COVID-19 has received monthly diaries from 50 youth workers, to contribute both to the Citizen Enquiry itself and to the Mass Observation archive at Sussex University. A team of citizen researchers (Janet Batsleer, Hasaan Amin, Emily Beever, Tania de St Croix, Kevin Jones, Gerry McVeigh and Christine Smith) met each month to discuss the diaries, identifying key themes, commonalities and divergence. We have done this in a personal and volunteer capacity, from the grassroots, as citizens in order to capture and record for the archive a sense of what is is like to be a youth worker at this time, as part of the wider study of the everyday life of citizens which Mass Observation undertakes.

Mass Observation was started in the 1930s by radical journalists and filmmakers who used the diary format as a way of understanding how life was, for ordinary people, in times of national crisis. For our Citizen Enquiry, writers did not work to a set brief, except that the diary entry started when we woke up and ended when we went to bed for the night. Diarists were free to choose a day within an agreed week each month. Some wrote at greater length in response to topics we suggested at the start of the process or new topics as they arise. They wrote in whatever detail and at any length they want, and use a variety of styles and approaches. We used the ethical guidelines from Mass Observation at Sussex University, including asking writers to make their diaries and those mentioned in them as anonymous as possible. We have asked writers to donate their diaries to the Mass Observation archive, which means they will be available to researchers both now and in the future. Young people were also invited to take part but the response was mainly from youth workers.

For more information, four articles were published in Youth and Policy reporting on the Citizen Enquiry:

https://www.youthandpolicy.org/articles/citizen-enquiry-into-the-lives-of-youth-workers-in-covid-19/

https://www.youthandpolicy.org/articles/youth-work-in-a-time-of-covid2/

https://www.youthandpolicy.org/articles/under-many-pressures/

https://www.youthandpolicy.org/articles/the-importance-of-our-wild-stories/

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