So you’re a detached youthworker are you? you must be looking forward to the light evenings , or when the clocks go back? – for the amount of times in the last 6 years that ive heard that, and i have to say no, not really, i strangely look forward to the dark, the twilight, not necessarily the cold, but the damp, misty kind of evenings.
Dont get me wrong, summer is ok, so is late spring, and maybe September and October are the best months for detached work, or at least so ive experienced. Yet, not unlike the weather, detached youthwork is seasonal, and i guess contextually variable against those seasons.
Over the past few months, in the heatwave, there have been slightly, and only slightly, more young people out and about in a small devon rural town compared to February, March and April, yet their reasons for being out and about are different to those earlier in the year, and in the main these are different young people.
The summer, for me, brings out the tourist young people, you know, the ones that say that they’re out every week, but never are, the ones that only head out in the summer, when the schools are off, and they have a few evenings to kill before they go abroad on holiday. Yet also that brings me to something else, thats seasonal, certainly we found in Perth as a project that the 6 weekends of summer were some of the most quiet weekends for meeting young people in the parks than the rest of the year. why? – well for most it was because -There was no school – and so when school itself is a reason for them to decide to meet up, or to escape the stress of school by going out and getting drunk, then when school isnt there – they arent as stressed, and have daytime time ( to go shopping, out for the day etc) and so by evening the congregating in the park doesnt really need to occur.
Is it easy to chat to the young people who are chilling out under the trees with a bottle of cider, when you know that this is just a summer activity for them ( given that you dont see them the rest of the year?) – maybe its more difficult if you dont know them and theyll only be there a short time..?
However, by the end of summer, bored groups of young people appeared, and as they mourned the end of summer, and the return of school, they would be out, drinking and socialising in the park- hence why september and october would be my favourite months- and you guessed it, its just starting to get dark by 9, then 830 and then 8pm as the weeks tick by.
Maybe theres something about the adrenaline rush in me that likes that element of unpredictability and the darkness, maybe it actually changes the dynamic of the detached youthwork, when young people can see you from a distance can they not already make the decision to accept or reject ( i guess thats true in winter too)
However, i wonder whether the seasonal changes, weather changes, and school term changes have an effect on detached youthwork across the board? and how do we plan to react, change or adapt our practice accordingly?
What for instance do we do in a coastal tourist area during high summer? or an urban context in mid winter? What of school holidays in more or less affluent areas? If our focus is young people and alcohol misuse – are there more pertinent times of the year? What of the situation that ‘other youth work’ closes for the summer – should we be more readily available?
I guess when being involved in detached youthwork, year by year for 5-6 years now , but in two contexts, i am reflecting on the changes and expectations of how the seasons have an effect, and so as a result may the approach.