The power of changing predicted destinations; learning from two Origin stories

Yesterday I watched two films; The blind side, and Skyfall. Two very different films, however two films with a running theme, not unlike many films. The construct that the expectations from the humble origins of the character do not necessarily match their future.
Albeit with a bucket load of white person rescue complex, the story of the homeless,  familyless, oversised boy,  who became known to a family who learned about each other through their help to him. Which included their acceptance of him in their family unit. He went on to get a sports scholarship.  He was the one of his 11 siblings who got a break.  His predicted future based upon his origin, of a mother that could not remember her own sons surname, predicted by his invisibilty in the system, non attendance and non speaking in school, did not occur because of one family’s compassion and refusal to give up, and attempt to listen, ask and not judge.
James Bond in skyfall is the orphan that came good. The orphan that was vulnerable to be selected by the MI5 to become the secret agent. We love a good origin story where the person does not stay conformed to the preconditions. Hope brings redemption.

Jeffs and Smith argue that youth work is future orientated. It occurs in the present as interactions that help determine the future of young people. Young people who, in an age of data (Tiffany G) are unlikely to be invisible, but who may have their future prefetermined by the culmination of stats on their birth location, parents jobs, health and the myriad of early testing. What right do systems and stats have in predetermining the future of children and young people? And, without the interventions and interruptions that people, of critical, determined future orientated youthworkers,  could bring,  maybe there are now less opportunities for predetermined outcomes to change.

We must hang on to a belief that young peoples futures have possibilities beyond the expectations that their past hold on them
We must hope that we can critically engage within systems so that young people arent passive in their future.

At the beginning of a new year, lets be determined to enable transformation and liberation of young people, the much maligned demographic in the UK, to enable future orientated, critical and new possibilities in young people to be realised.


Author: James

Currently I work part time for both Frontier Youth Trust ( and Communities Together Durham ( 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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