By Sue Robertson Russell House Publishing pound;14.50 plus pound;1.50 pp www.russellhouse.co.uk 01297 443948 Table tennis; a speaker that you had to listen to if you ever wanted to come back; a cup of tea and a biscuit; a beaming curate; a burly steelworker devoting his spare time to keeping the bikers out. That's how I remember youth clubs. It seems the reality, at least in the Sixties heyday, was usually better.
"In 1961 a typical club was open five nights a week with the occasional additional activities on Saturday or Sunday... there were 450 members on the books with an average attendance of 100," writes Sue Robertson. Then, as some will recall, the youth service was a bona fide part of educational provision. Teacher training colleges had specialist youth work courses, and student teachers were often expected to "volunteer" for youth work.
"So where have we gone wrong?" Robertson asks. "Why are many youth club buildings decaying?" It's not that youth provision itself has disappeared.
There's a lot of "youth work" and "youth projects". What's missing, she argues, is the notion of the "club": a place where you belong that you can help to run. Sue Robertson makes a strong case that there is still a place for this in young people's lives.