Sidewalk detached youth work tips
From our many years of doing detached work we recommend the following as tips( by no means exhaustive or defintive) just as a way of sharing our knowledge and stimulating an ongoing debate...if you have further comments, ideas or sugestions please let us know or add as appropriate. All the best Sharon Stone- Project Coordinator
1. Be friendly, approachable and be smiley(but not in a weird creepy way or else the young people will run off!)
2. Ask open ended questions and be non-judgemental
3. Be interested in their lives- schools, hobbies etc
4. Make strong and sweet hot chocolate-( or alternative ) In recent years it has become one of our trademarks and it's often the thing that young people remember.
5. Don't promise a long list of activities, trips and events that you may not be able to deliver- young people often get let down by adults in their lives and do not need yet another let down ( it's tempting in the heat of the moment to tell them that you will help them fundraise for a weekend away... until you realise it's for a long weekend in Amsterdam!!!!)
6. Be consistent
7. Remember as many of the young people's names as you can- never under estimate the importance that knowing a young person's name is to them-they are special enough to be remembered!
8. Affirm, encourage and make as many positive comments to individual young people as is appropriate. ' kind words are like honeycomb, making people happy and healthy'(Proverbs 16 v24)
9. Young people sense whether you like them or not ( they have very strong bull**** detectors) and will respond accordingly. They also know whether you genuinely care about them and will respond accordingly.
10. Challenge individual young people where appropriate- the longer you have known that person the more powerful that challenge will be and the more likely they are to take it on board.
11. Detached work is always a work in progress and relationships are always evolving and developing. It may not be for another few years before a young person comes up to you in the street and thanks you for supporting, encouraging, challenging or doing trips with them.
12 . Little acts of kindness often go a long way- we may have forgotten the incident involving a rescued trainer from a roof but the girl whose trainer it was remembered it and reminded us about it for a long time afterwards.
13. Don't be afraid to share some personal information with specific young people as appropriate. Share nothing and often they will share nothing in return but be an open book and you leave yourself vulnerable- know your own boundaries.
14. Don't allow yourself to get carried away in the moment- swapping your nose stud with a young person's is never a good idea neither is trying too hard to be trendy ( we are not young people so therefore shouldn't try to talk like them!)
15. Always have your work identification badge on you or with you, ensure your mobile phone is topped up and fully charged and thtat you follow your organisations policies and procedures whilst out on detached.
16. When with groups of young people don't outstay your welcome- know when to leave( always better that you leave first as opposed to them wandering off and you looking like a pair of billy-no-friends )
17. Try and accept silences when with groups, don't feel the need to constantly talk- sometimes less is more!
18. Always stay within earshot of your partner, the closer the better. Never work alone. Working in 3's and 4's can be a bit intimidating for young people- 2 is often the preferred number- ideally of mixed gender.