Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Progressive Youth: Hard Times for the Elfins

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Progressive Youth: Hard Times for the Elfins

Article excerpt

You would have thought that the Woodcraft Folk would be right up the street of a Labour government: a small youth movement (20,000 members), first formed in 1925 as a non-militaristic alternative to the Boy Scouts, it stands for "co-operation, equality, democracy and peace". Much loved by the north London chattering classes, but also strong in parts of the north, it is all for "caring and sharing", singing and dancing, and also stoutly opposes "sloth and greed". What's more, 2005, in case you didn't know, is the year of the volunteer.

So why has this apparently blameless body had its annual funding of [pounds sterling]52,000 cut off by the minister for children, Margaret Hodge? In a curt letter, it was told that "it does not represent good value for money". As Jo Tilley-Riley, a voluntary leader in inner-city Manchester, says: "The government talks about wanting to encourage children from a broad range of backgrounds, but it seems intent on suppressing them. …

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