About Us

Voice of Youth is a youth workers cooperative based in and around Hackney. We work with young people age 8-19 on a variety of projects, including arts and drama, sports, trips, detached (street-based) work and residentials. We are a mixture of new and experienced Youth Workers from different backgrounds and experience.

We are a workers’ cooperative. We make decisions together, we try to work as equals, we do not have bosses or managers, and we all paid the same rate. We formed our cooperative in 2011.

We believe in emancipatory and democratic Youth Work – a space that is free from adults determining what young people want.  A space that is free from prescribed outcomes and outputs. That is why our principles are important to us.

Thanks to everyone who has helped, advised and supported us so far including Awards for All / Lottery Foundation, Children in Need, Hackney Homes, Well London, Manor House Development Trust, Lea View Tenants and Residents Association, Manor Tenants and Residents Association, Elevate, Skyway, John Lewis Stratford, UK Cooperatives, Cooperative Group, Hackney Cooperative Developments, Awards for All Big Lottery Fund, Jack Watts Tenants and Residents Association, Access to Sports, Community First, Radical Routes, and others!

 

Panel 1

What we do

We are a small and diverse group of experienced and new youth workers who have lived and / or worked in Hackney for many years. We make contact with young people through street-based youth work, word of mouth, groups in local community buildings, and social networking. 

We work with young people in informal groups (including friendship groups or specific groups such as girls-only groups) to learn about issues of interest to those groups and build positive and co-operative group relationships through discussion, food and enjoyable activities.  Our work brings young people together from these different groups, and also bring our groups together with other groups of young people around Hackney, London, the UK and internationally.

We encourage young people to have a say and take action on issues affecting their lives. We aim to work in co-operation – not competition – with other local youth and community organisations. We have started our organisation small, local level and aim to stay small while becoming more sustainable, without losing our focus or becoming bureaucratic or funding-driven.

We strive to involve young people at all levels of our organisation, including planning activities, organising events and becoming volunteers and full members of our workers’ co-operative. We support, encourage and learn from each other as youth workers, work together and make decisions co-operatively, and engage in activities and training to develop our skills.

 

Community-based youth work

We work in community spaces, in partnership with local people and groups, mostly on social housing estates. We aim to work with young people based on their own needs and wishes, rather than working towards pre-defined ‘outcomes’. Much of our work is based on conversations and doing things together.

We do not exclude young people from our work simply because they live in a different estate or borough – anyone in the age group we work with can come along. We look for the best in the young people we work with and we do not see them as ‘problems’. We do not ask them to define themselves according to adult or policy-defined categories.

We involve young people in making decisions and having an influence at all levels of our work, primarily through informal methods rather than adult-oriented structures such as ‘committees’ and councils. Young people aged 16+ have the option to work with us to become youth workers on an equal basis.

Detached youth work

Detached youth workers walk around outside in pairs, accessible to young people in the area where they live and spend time. We meet young people on the streets, parks and play areas and through word of mouth. The aim is to build positive and supportive relationships with young people, especially those who do not engage with other youth provision for a variety of reasons.

We aim to have a more equal and flexible relationship with young people as we do not have a building to look after. We work with young people in a variety of ways which might include:

  • In-depth discussion
  • Informal sports and games
  • Support to organise trips and activities
  • Support to have their say or take action on community issues
Panel 2

How we work

We work according to the principles of youth work and co-operation:

1. Young people choose whether and how to become involved with our groups and work.

2. Our work starts from the needs and wishes of young people in Hackney and all funding bids will reflect this.

3. We involve young people in taking action to improve their own lives and the lives of their communities;

4. We promote equality and challenge oppressive structures in society, institutions, groups and individuals, including in our own organisation.

5. We promote co-operative decision making in our own work, in our youth groups and in the communities where we work.

What do our principles mean in practice?

We have recently recorded some of our discussions on our principles, and we’re planning to share some of them here as podcasts (coming soon!!). Our work will soon be the subject of a chapter in an upcoming book by Tania de St Croix – with a section of the chapter collectively written by several of us, discussing our principles!

Panel 3

Contact Us

Email:

voyhackney@gmail.com

Phone:

General contact numbers: 07896 108477 / 07966 512057

(Please note, we work part-time and these phones are only on when we are at work. You may get a quicker answer by email.)

Cooperative members / youth workers

To contact individual VOY workers, please use the contact details above and your message will be passed on.

Our co-operative members are all youth workers and share the management and organisation of VOY. Our current co-op members are Carys Afoko, Fionn Greig, Shekeila Scarlett, Susanna Darch, Tania de St Croix.