Is anybody listening?
18 March 2015
The other day, a young woman came into club with her personal statement for college and asked for my opinion on it. I went through it with her and suggested a couple of possible improvements. She totally ignored my suggestions, which was somewhat frustrating.
That frustration is a familiar feeling for the Urban Hope team. It's not unusual for young people to ignore our advice. We often find ourselves going over old ground – processing with young people the consequences of doing things that we told them weren't a good idea, or of not doing things we’ve recommended.
But however frustrated we get, we know that we are not here to tell young people what to do. Trying things out, making mistakes and learning from them is an important part of growing up. Empowerment, and voluntary participation are two of the core principles of youth work.
We believe that, with the right support, young people can choose well, even if they don’t always do so. Our job is to make sure they understand their options, encourage them to make their own, considered decisions, and support them in learning from the consequences of those decisions.
All this means that I will go on feeling frustrated and wondering each week if anyone is listening to what I'm saying. But, eventually, hopefully, I won’t need to say anything at all.