10 things detached youthwork is very good at

In response to the 10 misconceptions about detached youthwork of a few weeks ago, here are 10 things that detached youthwork is very good at:

  1. It build relationships with young people that have the added bonus that both parties can walk away.
  2. Because the youthworkers go into the space that the young people are in, detached workers dont have to worry about equipment or buildings, and just focus on the actions, conversations and body language of the young people
  3. Detached youthwork gets youthworkers out of buildings, and seeing something of the real lives of young people, how they interact with peers, in their chosen space, maybe with their families nearby, its sees them in their chosen context, not just spaces that are socially orientated by systems, adults and structures.
  4. Detached youthworkers will nearly always become in contact with young people whom have gripes with other services aimed at young people, such as schools, job centres, social workers, or even other youthworkers – and give young people opportunity to negotiate building a more effective relationship with someone who meets them on their terms.
  5. Detached youthwork gives adults an opportunity to dispel fears about young people.
  6. A Detached youthworker might not be able to meet every need of every young person they meet, but its often because of the nature of the voluntary relationship that a young person may have the first conversation about it.
  7. Detached youthwork allows for the adult to be a learner in the space with young people, to share space with young people in the outside, to be involved in the activities of young people whether swings, football or skateboarding.
  8. Detached youthwork provides the opportunity for great conversations with young people – even on the first time of meeting a young person.
  9. Detached youthwork starts the process of enabling young people to see adults differently in the same way that it gives adults & youthworkers the chance to see young people differently
  10. Detached youthwork is possible in a range of contexts, city centre, town, community estate and parks.
  11. A detached youthwork session can be successful seeing lots of young people and having many conversations or one group of young people and spending an hour with them, all of these moments are about building conversation, continuity and rapport with young people.

Oh yes theres, 11. Detached youthwork goes beyond the boundaries, sometimes of time, of number and mixes in the margins where other people often fear to tread. Its where Friere would say that it starts with young people and asks them to cooperate in personal, social or community reflection & action, rather than invade their culture to take away their power.

Theres probably a few more….



Author: James

Currently I work part time for both Frontier Youth Trust (www.fyt.org.uk) and Communities Together Durham (www.communitiestogetherdurham.org) and am also self employed and do various aspects of youthwork consultancy, including training, writing, lecturing, seminars and written pieces, including organisational consultancy, community profiling and detached/youthwork training. Please do get in touch if I can be of help to you in your church, project or organisation to develop your youth and community work. I have contributed to 'Here be Dragons (2013), and two recent articles in the youth and theology journal and 'ANVIL' the CMS online journal. My recent employment includes, working for FYT as a youthwork development adviser, being the centre director at Durham YFC, and before this I was known as 'Mr Sidewalk' as I was the project coordinator for the Sidewalk Project in Perth, where I facilitated the delivery of 5 years of detached youthwork on the streets, schools and communities to engage with young people , and support through alcohol misuse issues. In 2017 I completed an MA in Theology & Ministry at St John's College, Durham, and in 2008 graduated from ICC (now NTC Glasgow) with an honours degree in youth work with Applied theology.

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