Martin Purcell is a Senior Lecturer / Course Leader (Youth & Community Work) in the School of Education at the University of Huddersfield, and a member of HudCRES (the Centre for Research in Education & Society).
Martin worked for over twenty years in community development and youth work, employed in both the voluntary and statutory sectors to support various initiatives in diverse communities in Wales, Scotland and England. For the past twelve years, Martin has worked in higher education, initially as a contract researcher (conducting evaluations of government-funded programmes, including the New Deal for Communities, the Children’s Fund and the Youth Contract), and more recently as a lecturer in Youth & Community Work studies. His involvement in community work continues: as a Trustee of a local charity promoting the mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people; and volunteering with a number of local groups, including the Scouts and an organisation welcoming refugees and asylum seekers into the community.
Martin’s research into the translation of professional (community development) values into practice raised more questions than in answered, particularly in relation to ‘how’ practitioners enact some of the more ethereal aspirations of the profession. The work of Paulo Freire underpins much of the teaching of community work practice (including youth work), and Martin is keen to explore with practitioners working in a range of contexts how they view Freire’s assertion that ‘education’ in all its forms is an ‘act of love’. He is currently engaged in conversations with people supporting children and young people – in schools, youth work settings and offering mental health services – exploring their perception of the importance of ‘love’ as an element of their professional relationships with the young people with whom they work. This work draws on Jools Page’s concept of ‘professional love’ in the early years, exploring the extent to which it can be applied in work with older children and young people.