Seems as if news of redundancy is everywhere at the moment, both known and those about to hit – taking various forms and done in different ways – yet the result remains the same, pain, hurt, mixed emotions, hope, promise and change. In the world of youthwork and ministry we are seeing significant losses as a result of finance, restructuring and new circumstances. We should not be surprised as there are limits to the financial pots that remain, cuts have to be made somewhere and although we care passionately and will shout for our friends there are often the forgotten people….the friends and colleagues who remain. They also have emotions to deal with and have to develop new ways of working, new systems and strategies – let’s not forget them.
However, there is another thing on my mind…..change. In my 20 years in youth related activity, the ones who usually shout the loudest for change have been the youth bods, they deal with it everyday and have to respond quickly and efficiently. Yet, our responses to the redundancies, and proposed redundancies, seek to maintain the status quo. Why is that? What if we looked at the changes thrown at us in a different light? What if the changes being thrown at many in the youthwork world were the beginnings of a new way of working? What if the redundancies, that we are becoming aware of, are just the start of something stronger, something more able to accommodate the needs, aspirations and dreams of young people? We have ridden a wave these last years, maybe the bubble has burst, just maybe something better is around the corner. I may just be dreaming but there has to be hope, there has to be something we can cling to. Surely? Please?
Don’t get me wrong, I am hurting for those who have received letters and meetings. I have been on both sides of this fence in these last 12 months and the pain is very real but I am beginning to question whether the systems/models we have created in youthwork and ministry are the appropriate ones. If the current financial meltdown is anything to go by, we have created a way of working that is not altogether sustainable in financial terms for the cycles of boom and bust or, at the very least, a model that the financiers are not seeing as priority when credit is at a premium. I think we need to face some changes in the way we operate and the way we finance youth work and ministry in the coming years – there has to be a better way and in my belief there are no better people than youthworkers to begin to make those changes.
So what is a/the solution? That is something that I am thinking through. We are seeing networks beginning to develop into partnerships more than has happened before, just maybe this is the firstfruits of something special. I hope so.