It was fantastic to spend an evening with the new teams of detached workers at the MINE Byker project this evening, going through theories, process and practices of detached youthwork, its great to see new project get off the ground to meet young people where they’re at, value them and start this incredible journey. As I prepared for the session, and reminded myself of the material, and the intricacies of the cold contact moment, got me thinking about the questions that you’re likely to encounter from young people on the streets; and so in an attempt to educate, and encourage reflection; these ones are the most common, and what young people mean by asking it;
- Do you get paid for this? – are you choosing to be here or forced to be?
- Why are you here? Am I worth spending time with?
- Who are you? Can I trust you?
- Have you ever taken drugs/smoked? Will you endorse/affirm/judge me if i do?
- Haven’t you got something better to do? Am i worth spending time with?
There are variations of how each of these is communicated to you on the streets, but as ive shared with groups around the country and talked about detached, these seem to be the most common. Often behind the challenge, and the friendly banter, is a real question hidden behind the bravado, curiosity and challenge. Often we dont get chance to talk about the real question, but its worth thinking of responses to these questions that arent defensive, belittling or discouraging, given the reality of the question being asked.
We’re in young peoples spaces, so they’re going to ask questions, why wouldn’t they – its an unnatural thing for adults to want to be there and spend time with them. But in being there we may be exposed to realities behind the question, meanings of life. Young people want to be able to trust us, want us to value them and want us to be interested in them.
Its an awesome privaledge to do so, its a journey of discovery that often starts with a question.