The 2017 Annual Conference (Resources)


'Expressions of Freedom:
Revisiting the role of Youth and Community Work as Emancipatory Practice'


Wednesday 5th to Friday 7th June, University of Hull, England.


The Theme: 'Expressions of Freedom' 

The Association was hosted by the University of Hull for the 2017 annual conference in the year Hull is celebrating its status as the UK City of Culture. The City is curating four seasons of culture and July marked the beginning of the City’s summer seasonal theme of ‘Freedom’ with events that ‘ celebrate Hull’s rebellious streak and its freedom of thought, unbound by convention .’ The City is setting out, in its third season, to:


'not only explore the pivotal role Hull played in the emancipation movement [notably through William Wilberforce] that helped to ignite the still unfinished global journey towards equality and social justice for all; but also to look at broader interpretations of freedom as a platform to create and debate, share and enjoy, reflect and reimagine.'

The Association’s Annual Conference embraced this seasonal theme by revisiting the role of youth and community work as emancipatory practice. A principle that has underpinned the youth and community work movement since its fledging activities in the 1800’s and is, perhaps, all the more urgent in the 21st century when so many young people and communities are increasingly disenfranchised, marginalised or ‘left behind.’

The conference was opened with a key note from Barry Knight , an adviser for the Global Fund for Community Foundations, Executive Director of CENTRIS (The Centre for Research & Innovation in Social Policy and Practice) and author of ‘The Society We Want’. There followed three seminar streams over two days that addressing ‘Expressions of Freedom’, delivered in partnership with BERA SIG (British Education Research Association Special Interest Group) Youth Studies and Informal Education. The three streams included a range of presentations detailed in the table below:

The conference also included policy and practice updates in youth and community work from across the 4 UK Nations and our international associates; visits to community led services in Hull; a conference dinner with dinner reception address from WISE (Hull University’s ‘Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation’) and opportunities to tour the City of Culture. Relevant links to additional to additional presentations and resources are also included in the table below, with links to the full programme and abstracts available via link button on the right of this page.

1. Expressions of Freedom: The Society We Want

Presentation by Barry Knight, adviser for the Global Fund for Community Foundations , Executive Director of CENTRIS (The Centre for Research & Innovation in Social Policy and Practice) and author of ‘ The Society We Want’.


2. Policy and Practice

Presentations from the following:

1. Scotland  2. Wales 3. Northern Ireland  4. England  5. Europe  6. The Commonwealth 7. Rest of the World!

3. Conference Seminars Theme 1: Freedom of Mind
  Opening Presentation:
'Learning for Democracy: Youth and Community Work as a process if liberating (informal) education'
(Ann Swinney, University of Dundee)

Seminar/Workshop Options from:
'Rememberings: Transforming habits of Mind (W.Richards and J.Lewis, University of Worcester)
'Youth Work in Different Spaces' (S.Williams and T.Howell, University of Derby)
'The rise of a neo-communitarian project: A critical youth work study into the pedagogy of the National Citizen Service' (S.Murphy, Teeside University)
'Borders, Brexit and Community Resilience - time for a re-think?’ ' (A.Coburn, University of the West of Scotland and S.Gormally, University of Glasgow)

4. Conference Seminars Theme 2: Freedom of Speech

Opening Presentation:

'Political Literacy: Youth and Community Work as a vehicle for voice, activism and social change' (C. Smith & S.McAdam, University of St. Mark and St. John, Plymouth; and P. Fenton, Nottingham Trent University)

Seminar/Workshop Options from:

'Online Computer Games, and emerging mechanism for enabling political activism and mobilising for social change' (Paul Keating, Limerick Institute of Technology) Also see the full journal article via this link

Youth and community work in emancipatory interconnections of marginalised young people with museums'
(I. Athanasiou, Goldsmiths College, University of London)  'Youth work and agonistic democracy in England' (C. Pugh and G. Bright, York St.John University)

'Cry Freedom: Emancipatory Practice Through Dialogue and Change' (D.Connolly, University of Sunderland)


5. Conference Seminars Theme 3: Freedom of Expression

Opening Presentation:

'An anti-poverty experiment: lessons and legacies of the radical Community Development Projects in North East England, from the 1970-s to the Present' (S.Banks, University of Durham) See also Imagine Project Website

A series of journal articles are also available in a themed issue of the Community Development Journal

Seminar/Workshop Options from:

'Creative Expression, Meaning and Identity through artswork with young people'

Presentation 1: B.Felstead, Nottingham YMCA; Presentation 2: A.Cropper, University of Nottingham;
Presentation 3: F.Howard, University of Nottingham)

'New Expressions of Youth Work in Kenya' (J.Brooker, YMCA George Williams College)


6. Collaboration and Innovation Workshops: Growing our Community of Practice

A. Traiblazer and Degree Apprenticeships

B. Joint Youth Work and Community Development Validations

C. The Future of Professional Validation Frameworks

Programme questions: Any questions about conference presentations can be addressed to:



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