Faith-based organizations — and, churches in particular — have a long and rich history in youth and community work that represents a significant kernel from which other practice has grown. Indeed, research by Brierley (2003) and Green (2006) suggests that churches and other Christian organizations have long employed more youth workers than other sectors. The current climate of austerity that has attempted to decimate many treasured public services, including youth work, has led to a renewed interest in and reliance on faith-based practices (Stanton, 2012, 2013). The relative political independence that Christian youth work enjoys continues to harbour many of youth work’s core values from the policy initiatives that have attempted to erode the profession’s traditional practices, which are founded on relational principles that seek to promote learning, democracy, justice and action. The New Labour settlement which funded youth work to act as a faceded plaything of social engineering did much to undermine truly relational ways of working. Since the late 1990s, language regarding society in general, and young people in particular, has become sometimes subtly, and more often overtly, rhetorically discoursed: a theme that has become increasingly cutting in Cameron’s ‘broken Britain’. The young in general, and those from disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds in particular, have been castigated as ‘socially excluded’.
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