Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Heart of Youth Work

It;s been over a year since I last posted on this blog. That's very bad! 
But, this year for placement I've been asked to write monthly reflections so I thought what better way to do it then via my blog? (Which, incidentally I said I'd do in first year.. but third year is my year of doing all the things I said I'd do in first year & second year and never got round to! Like start my assignments 4 weeks before they're due. Anyway, I digress.) 
Also, why does blogger set Times New Roman as default? I hate it.

This summer I really struggled with the concept of coming back to Chester for final year. I had a great "temp" job in recruitment, I felt settled, I love being near my family (and pets) and my gorgeous house. In terms of youth work, excited as I am about my placement (which I will detail more in another blog, later) I wasn't excited to be doing the course any more  I was doubting if I was even meant to be doing youth work any more, if I was even any good at it- was I better off in recruitment permanently?  or expanding my wedding planning qualification? or starting midwifery training now? 

But, I figured that I was already paying rent on my (lovely, like seriously lovely) uni house and I'd worked hard for two years, why jack it in now? So I packed my little yellow car up and came back to Chester.

Week three and I was still struggling. Our Church sermon that week was about work and studies and how sometimes God might be calling us in a different direction (aha!)- so I got someone to pray with me and expectantly waited for a sign.

Fast forward to Wednesday's lecture (I promise the point is coming soon): Professional Practice. One of our tasks was to write a letter to a little person we loved. I chose my nephew, he's 2 and a half and the apple of my eye. Without over sharing, my letter effectively said I hoped he knew how loved he was and would remember that for years to come, I also hoped he's learn from his own mistakes, know how well supported he is and live life to the full. 

ok, now think of a "nightmare" young person. The kind of young person you almost dread seeing each week, who makes your life sooo difficult or who you sometimes wonder if it's really worth it. I thought back to my first year placement working in a Young Offenders Prison, my young person (let's call him Jay) was a repeat offender, in and out of prison for years- spending seven birthdays I believe inside, and only 24! He was pretty cocky and at times real hard work. 

But apply the letter I wrote to Zach (2 and a haf and who's worse crime is the occasional tantrum, not going to bed before about 9pm and stealing your food!) to "Jay"- and your perspective changes. 

I don't know where Jay is now, I hope he's out of prison and his life has turned around. But I do want to be able to speak the same words over him, and other young people as I speak over Zach. Learning from their own mistakes, knowing they're loved and supported (by somebody, anybody!) and living life to the full. 

I was filled with a real sense of purpose again- that's what I want my youth work to be about. Speaking positivity over the lives of young people and watching them develop and grow, learning from mistakes, no matter how big and encouraging them every step of the way.

Today, Professor Green (my alter-ego, but that's another story) posted this on instagram : 

"we should celebrate the youth at every opportunity, growing up is hard enough as it is. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way".

I mean, I couldn't put it better myself. What a man! 

and finally, the sentiments which I often wear emblazoned on my chest (Ok, as a T shirt) and a consistent reminder from my gap year with XLP: "I refuse to accept this is a lost generation"

I'm so excited to get back to the heart of youth work and see what happens next.

Over & out. 

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