Hoxton Cafe Project
1963 - 1969
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Hoxton Cafe Project report on seven years

By Dr. H.M. Holden





· Dr. Holden’s report on one of the most long-running coffee bar experiments, the Hoxton Cafe Project, adds another interpretative account to our Report series. The earlier Reports, on the Blenheim counselling project for young drifters in Central London, and “Contact” the Liverpool detached youth worker project, described experimental styles and approaches to those young people who are alienated not only from the traditional youth work agencies, but from society itself.
Dr. Holden describes Hoxton as a ghetto, resistant to external change and apparently incapable of generating change for itself and its residents. In particular he describes the young people who were the cafe’s users, and he interprets in social and psychological terms their situation. He questions whether the coffee bar approach was not just an up-dated version of middle-class intervention, parallel to previous do-gooding efforts of the past. He draws attention to the clash in value systems between the organising committee and the cafe’s young clients, and the consequent tensions under which the succession of workers operated. Like many of the earlier reports of similar projects, he emphasises the pressures for the worker, and the need for an adequate support system.
More importantly, he reflects the trend away from a direct interventionist approach towards the acceptance of community development, self-help philosophies. In this, he contrasts the Freudian interpretation of the state of young people in Hoxton, by which their condition can be seen to be caused by internal tensions and pressures, and the Marxist interpretation by which their situation is seen as the direct result of the capitalist system, and which can only be resolved through social revolution. He questions whether these diagnoses are as incompatible as they seem.
He has particularly important comments to make on the relationship of the police and such projects, and on the ambivalent position of workers and sponsoring agencies with the law. He draws attention to the second-class status of professional youth workers (and particularly detached workers) as compared with social workers, in their relationships with the police, the courts, and penal institutions.
The real problem he poses for the Youth Service is whether, in turning from the interventionist approach which the 1960s coffee bars have adopted, to a community development philosophy that Service and its workers can avoid becoming increasingly involved in political interpretation and action?
Dr. Holden is a psycho-analyst, and is currently consultant psychiatrist at the Tavistock Clinic. He is married and has four teenage, and teenage plus children. Before commencing his training he was a youth worker in Hoxton, and his close involvement with the area has been maintained ever since. Throughout most of the Cafe Project, he was Chairman of the Management group, but for part of the lime he was its Scheme Consultant.




· If you have read the report (Hoxton Café Project) you would have read there was five annual reports written “The Project has produced five Annual Reports, culminating in the combined report of the Hoxton Cafe and Club Project of 1968.These are available on loan from Y.S.I.C.” and so far I haven’t been able to locate them. I have been in touch with YSIC which is now The National Youth Agency (NYA) and they don’t have any copies of them in their library. As far as I can make out they were written by Barrie Biven, Ian Guild, Steve Brake and Glen Thompson. So if you know of the whereabouts of these reports or know someone who does I would be very grateful if I could have a look at a copy.


HCP Report on seven years.pdf
Hoxton Cafe booklet.pdf
Pages from Hoxton Cafe report no 3.pdf
Report no 4.pdf
Hoxton Mission.pdf

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