If i was starting over again on detached, here’s a few pieces of advice id give myself when heading out on the streets, actually some of this I try and remind myself every week…

  1. Have at least 10 ways of responding to the question – so what is a detached youthworker? from young people, parents, your parents, teachers, people in church. If you have at least 10 ways, itll be at least a bit more interesting for you when you respond – youll get asked it at least once a week when you say what you do.
  2. Treat the young adults on the streets like adults.
  3. Stay calm in all circumstances, stay in control of at least yourself when there might be chaos all around.
  4. Its not too defeatist to walk away from a group of young adults. Its your way of not giving them attention if they are acting in a way that makes you uncomfortable
  5. Train and value every volunteer.
  6. Treasure every moment with the young adults, listen and be present in their space, enjoy the welcome.
  7. Dont stop observing, interpreting and listening to the values of the community.
  8. Build a good team, even if its just a team of 2.
  9. Vary your walking routes, vary your speed, and sometimes just stand and wait in the spaces.
  10. Practice reflecting with your team, and encourage the young people to reflect on their situations too
  11. Dont be afraid to ask questions of young people, but do so in a way that doesnt sound like an inquisition.
  12. Be confident, be yourself, you’re in the space of the community you have to be authentic.
  13. Try and give every opportunity for young people to trust you, talk to you and enjoy being with you.
  14. Do read some theory, some books on detached, but once you’ve read 10 you’ve probably read them all.  Though get a copy of Goetchuis and Tash (1967) its gold dust for pioneering UK street based work.
  15. Build good networks, especially with the police, community wardens and other adults around.
  16. Dont be shocked. Thats the game young people are playing with you.
  17. End conversations well with the young people
  18. Have good snacks, hot chocolate before and after, especially in the winter
  19. Enjoy reviewing the evening with your team, compete for numbers of conversations just for fun
  20. You may be the only adult who a young person gets chance to see who is ‘for’ them in their space, its and honour and privaledge, enjoy being their friend, their help, their fun person, their object of ridicule, their game or challenge.
  21. Look after yourself, get support and support from someone who can reflect with you.
  22. Stay safe, remember the policies and procedures, but realise its a different ball game on the streets at times.
  23. Dont be afraid to give away truth, like your real name, but dont expect it back.
  24. Realise that you might be the cause of escalated behaviour, apologise and move on.
  25. Take a hard hat, and bullet proof vests for all the assaults you’re likely to get. *(hopefully not, thats just one of those preconceptions you have to deal with)
  26. Be aware than adults on the streets might have worse, more annoying behaviour than the young adults.
  27. Get yourself a decent pair of walking shoes. and at least 3 pairs of socks in the winter.
  28. Its not your right to criticise a young person for swearing out and about. its not your club. However, treasure when they apologise for it.
  29. The first 7 seconds you have with a young person or group of young people in cold contact could be the most important*, dont give them an opportunity to think you’re judging them. (*if the research about first impressions and job interviews is correct/transferrable)
  30. Enjoy meeting new young people, enjoy meeting the same ones and building rapport, enjoy the deeper conversations, enjoy it all!

Im sure there are many extra to add to this, but these are just a few pieces of advice that might be good to share if you’re about the start being out and about on the streets meeting young people where they’re at.

 

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