Does every youthworker work in a cold office?

A couple of youth worker friends of mine on Facebook this week have commented on needing heaters, or feeling the cold, now i didnt know they were at work at the time, but I was intrigued to find out (so using the echo chamber that clearly only cold youth workers exist in, Facebook) whether this was common, universal in fact. My own experience is that all but 2 of my working years as a youth worker have been in cold office spaces, and one other was when I worked from home. 2 years were so cold that 4 season jackets were needed and doing detached work that same evening in November was warmer. Clearly, according to the other cold youth workers, it would be fair to say that if not right now, but at some point every youth worker has probably had the experience of working in a cold office, being the first to turn on the heating ( which is usually an electric heater) or in need of fingerless gloves to cope with the cold. Other tactics include taking a dog to work as they emit heat, boiling kettles in the room, and working out how many logo emblazed fleeces it is possible to wear at once.

That got me thinking – what else – apart from the ability to work in a cold office – what other experiences of youthwork might be pretty much common, or even universal to all youthworkers?

  1. Do all youth workers have a positive experience of being ‘youth worked’ as a young person?
  2. Do all youth workers have large DVD collections (we could be specific and suggest actual titles)
  3. I wonder – do all faith based youth workers either start, or grow up evangelical? – some might stay..
  4. Do all youth workers hope they had better supervision?
  5. Have all youth workers used at least one ‘ready to use guide’ in youthwork magazine?
  6. Have all youth workers had to try and describe what they do by saying what theyre not? (Ie police, social worker, teacher)
  7. Do all youth workers find the dark spots even when the light is blazing bright?
  8. Do all youth workers love that moment when it ‘just clicks’ between themselves and a young person – that moment of conversation, moment of trust, moment of significance
  9. Do all youth workers wish more people would ‘get’ what youthwork actually is
  10. Do all youth workers know the feeling of just running on adrenalin during a residential weekend with young people – but also loving every single minute of it
  11. Have all youth workers (in the UK) read either something by Pete Ward, Jeffs and Smith, Paulo Freire, Danny Brierley or Richard Passmore?
  12. Do all youth workers cringe at being subjected to the same ice-breakers that they subject young people to?
  13. Has every youth worker had the ‘Why me?’ moment when the mini bus breaks down half way up the M6, or young people smash windows on the residential, or terrorise the neighbours, or run across the road , drunk, just when you are with them on detached (maybe that one is just me) – but the ‘why me?’ moment none the less.
  14. Has every youth worker took positives from the ‘why me?’ moment – either for themselves, the memories and experiences created or the relationship building with such challenging young people… yeah,, thought so..
  15. Does every youth worker secretly wish they got paid as much as a teacher but glad they dont have to do the work or have the day to day pressure a teacher does.
  16. Does every youth worker drink coffee? ( actually no this isnt true)
  17. Is every youth worker on Facebook?
  18. Does every youth worker love the variety of every day, of every week and every moment with young people?
  19. Does every youth worker hate it when young people are misrepresented, judged unfairly and not listened to?
  20. Does every youth worker work in a cold office space?

nodding much? .. i thought so… I reckon I am at least 15 of these and so I wonder if they are just ‘highlights’ of my own experience as a youthworker, and I imagine many of you reading this will be able to add others to the list. Its a bit like those magazines, if you scored 0-8 you’re not a proper youthworker, or ‘are you new?’ , score 8-15..and so on.. but

There are times when the world of youthwork brings out the distinctions in peoples practices, beliefs or intentions, but i wonder deep down most youthworkers share many common experiences of cold office spaces, misunderstood practice, love for coffee and DVD’s, and desire better supervision – all because they invest and care deeply about young people.

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