Everybody at the NYA was saddened to hear of the passing of John Ewen OBE. John was the Director of the National Youth Bureau, predecessor of the NYA, during its formation in the mid-1970’s and was a passionate advocate for youth work, and for young people.  

One of John’s proudest achievements at the National Youth Bureau was the establishment of Community Industry. In conjunction with the National Association of Youth Clubs, John persuaded the Department of Employment to fund a scheme to provide work for young unemployed people. This started in 1970. It was a time of rising youth unemployment, but the focus of Community Industry was those young people who would find it difficult to get jobs, however buoyant the labour market might be.  

Community Industry was run in conjunction with local authorities. It was launched successfully in Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle and in several London boroughs. It functioned throughout the 1970s, and John chaired its management board. 

After his time at the NYB, John spent most of his professional life training youth workers and advising on youth policy overseas. He worked in Oman, Australia, Pakistan and Zambia and was honoured with an OBE for his contribution to the development of youth policy and training for his work in the latter. 

John laid many of the foundations for what the NYB, and later the NYA, was to become, including the guiding principles of the youth work curriculum. This is John’s lasting legacy for youth work, and we at the NYA are proud to uphold those principles today, and grateful for John’s vital role, in the history and foundation of the organisation. 

Skip to content