The ideal open youth work is characterized by environments and spaces that are open to all young people, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation or socio economic status. Arenas for open youth work are often informed by the needs of the young people, both the physical design of the youth project, and in how the youth workers facilitate the youth work experience. Youth workers are there to work alongside the young people and also to develop connections to relevant stakeholders within the wider community. Youth workers often interpret the needs of young people, and encourage their active participation, to ensure that the youth work space does not exclude anyone, consciously helping to create a safe space one where bullying, violence, racism or sexism etc, cannot flourish.
Unfortunately, the area of youth work has been weakened in the Nordic and many of the European countries, due to Europe-wide neo-liberal austerity measures. The situation for young people in Europe can be characterized by more complex societies; the most worrying is the tougher access to the jobs market. Whilst the solutions are complex we should not surrender to inertia. One small step would be to stop destroying services for young people and instead invest since they are our future. This is not a panacea for the social ills of Europe, but we have to start somewhere.
The International Journal of Open Youth Work provides a space for exploration, celebration and critical reflection on open youth work practice. It will enable youth workers and academics to work together on research, writing up of practice, exploration of methodology and any other aspect which contributes to the development of open youth work. This mix of practice and theory is deliberate and intentional. Practice without theory is as sad as theory without relevance to practice.
Often, but not exclusively from a European experience, the Journal is published online two times a year and contains refereed joint articles, exploration of practice and methodology, research, policy analysis and book reviews. It is addressed to open youth workers, youth work academic specialists, researchers and practitioners who are involved in making policies affecting young people.