About Us

voy-logo

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 with members aged from 16 years and over. 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!

Not-for-profit organisation registered with IPS, number: 31303. Voice Of Youth is a registered member of UK Co-operatives: VOI220182

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

Thirty years ago Youth Work aspired to a special relationship with young people. It wanted to meet young women and men on their terms. It claimed to be ‘on their side’. Three decades later Youth Work is close to abandoning this distinctive commitment. Today it accepts the State’s terms. It sides with the State’s agenda. – IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK

We see youth work as a distinctive educational practice founded on a voluntary relationship with young people and shaped by their agendas. That is why the way we work and our principles is important to us.

Our Principles

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.

We have produced a booklet that tells you more about us and how we work. The booklet covers:

·       What makes a good youth worker?

·       Keeping young people safe from abuse

·       What it means to be a co-op member or volunteer

·       Volunteers’ agreement

·       Co-op Members Agreement

·       What it means to join VOY

·       What equality and diversity means to us  

·       How we ensure everyone’s health and safety

Other organisations are welcome to borrow or adapt from this document, please just credit Voice of Youth, Hackney. The booklet can be downloaded from here.  

 

Panel 3

Support us

voy-logo

We are a cooperative – owned by and operated for the benefit of those using our services.   We are non-profit, meaning that any money we get is used for the projects we run, not to make a profit. 

We only apply for funding that allows us to exist on our own terms.  We see youth work as a distinctive educational practice founded on a voluntary relationship with young people and shaped by their agendas. Funding from local authorities or grant funders can undermine our principles and the way we work because it imposes predetermined targets and outcomes. 

If we had regular income from our supporters, our activities would be sustainable – so it would make a huge difference to us if you can donate whatever amount you can afford, whether its two pounds or five pounds a month.

The best way to support us is to set up a standing order by completing a standing order form.  This option is the cheapest way because it does not cost you or us any money. 

If that is not possible, you can donate through PayPal.  PayPal charges a fee on it’s transactions but we understand that it is very convenient for a lot of people. 

You can support us in other ways, for example by supplying materials for our projects, sharing your resources such as venues or even volunteering.  Just email voyhackney@gmail.com to find out what we need. 

Thank you.

We would like to thank the original VOY founder members Jerome Boothe, Anna Nina Koduah, Tania de St Croix, Emma Heard, Fionn Greig, Julia Betancour Roth and Keishaun Decordova Johnson for all their support.  We would also like to thank the VOY volunteers, past and present who give so much of their time and ideas.   

 

Panel 4

Contact Us

voy-logo

Membership Form: 

If you are a young person aged 8-17 years and you would like to come to any of our activities, you need to complete a membership form signed by a parent/guardian.  The form can be downloaded from here

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 Anna Nina, Rochell, Lita, Fionn, Sus and Tania.