So this is the time to say a little farewell for my part in the Sidewalk project over the last few years, after 4 1/2 years i managed to coordinate the project and was able, along with the volunteers to be able to do this:
Complete 465 detached youthwork sessions
Have 10,000 contacts with young people
Develop partnership working in 3 schools and Perth College
Have 1900 conversations with young people on the streets
Get to know 404 ‘named’ young people in the City Centre
Talk to young people about alcohol or drug use on 450 occasions (in the City Centre).
Have 200 conversations with young people about Family life, 678 about work or school, 66 about Religion/Spirituality
Do one to one work with 8 different young people with a variety of intensity
Have 90 young people as ‘friends’ on the Sidewalk Facebook page.
Develop partnerships with Youth Services ( for Safetaysiders and Driving Ambition) , Youth Justice ( for Alcohol diversionary projects 2010), Tayside police ( Driving Ambition), Riverside church (for North Muirton work), Tulloch Net (for Tulloch work), south perth youth services (South inch, drug and alcohol photography project)
Develop links with FYT Streetspace, Faithworks, Youthworks & Snapy
Have 115 detailed conversations with young people on the street, where disclosure of personal information is given.
Train 14 Volunteers, 6 ICC students and 6 Young Leaders at PYMCA, 25 adults at Deep Impact conference.
Help to reduce YCO Calls in Letham/ North Muirton by 30%
Worked in partnership with Tayside Police, Street Pastors and City Centre Safety Partnerships
Deliver Lessons on Legal highs/alcohol to 8 classes at St Johns
Call 1 ambulance and give 5 lifts home from the south inch
Speak to S5/6 groups at all P&K secondary schools about alcohol use, using the Driving Ambition framework.
Distribute at least 2500 contact/ info cards – via street work, driving ambition and Transition days
Split up at least 4 fights between young people, and more recently deal with the aftermath of 3 ‘adult’ fights.
Walk the distance between Perth and Athens, just around the city centre.
Amongst alot of other things besides, I thank you if youre a young person whom weve met, if you're a volunteer who weve trained, a partner who we've worked with over these last few years.
Its time to let others take on the mantle, run with the baton and all that, and so with only a little modesty i use the comments of a young person to close with:
“James is a legend, he should have gold stars on his badge, hes been here for 4 years and stuck around even though other people on the project have left, he doesn’t have any faults, he must be mental” (E, 17)
So yes i must be mental, or convicted that young people have the right to be respected and to spend time with in their environments, worth listening to and meeting them where they're at. Bye for now James
Boy that was quick... 4 weeks ago it was dark at 8.45pm, this week its dark at 6.45pm.. where did the summer/autumn go? yet this time of the year has traditionally ( wow can i say 'traditionally' now on Sidewalk! ) become quite a busy time for us. In not too many days the shows will be setting up in Perth for a few weeks and that attracts many to the south inch, a mixture of mums with small kids, some 9-12 years old enjoying it for a night out, and a load of 16-19years olds who still think they want to be 13 again but do the rides whilst on alcohol.
Why is it that those who pretend to be so grown up still hanker after their lost childhood/early youth? and should we not be surprised by this? in fact one young person recently did not like being described as a 'young adult' as this wasnt something they were ready for. yet the person is 16.
oh back to the season... well i am about to head out in the town, its slightly damp ( been that way for 2 days) its misty, and dark. Yet there will be at least one or two surprises in town this evening, a familiar face, a young person wee not seen in a while, maybe an incident to sort out, some one thinking we are the street pastors, and some opportunities to be availible to chat with and listen to young people. Its a privaledge and an honour to be accepted in the street lives of young people, where many other services fear to tread, where magic happens, and where something positive can occur.
If you were to take a snapshot of your youthwork practice , a point in which all things you did culminated... when would it be... For me the Sidewalk project was this in the last week, notably saturday night, but we'll get there in a moment.
The Project went to the four transition days, in which we gave out information and cards to lots of P7 pupils, some S2/3 pupils who were helping on the day, gave out some annual reviews to teachers and mingled with other agency workers who were also there. For many 11 yr old what we do on a friday and saturday is fairly irrelevant at the moment, given that most of the Yp we see are 14-15 +, yet good to let them know what we are doing and also puiblicise this in the schools too.
Also took a young person who weve seen for a while round to a local charity shop so they could start volunteering as they wanted to do something and had only been involved in some projects since leaving school a long while ago.
Friday Night in North Muirton was a busy one, saw some young people from the transition days and some good chats with others, The CC was unusually quiet.. maybe YP were saving themselves for saturday....
Saturday, the hottest day of the year, Young People were everywhere, on the inch, skatepark, in town and also at an underage disco event. We had 17 conversations with 61 young people, from those who wed known for a very long time, those who were drinking, and walking young people to bus stops or waiting with them until their parents picked them up. Quite a few young people at the Disco were seen at the transition days and so the timing of this was great. It was a night when we did all the things we could do, advised Yp about alcohol, offered spport in conversations, signposted to agencies and introduced the project, waited with YP until they were leaving town. In the midst of this we received some positive reactions like
two young people waved appreciatively as their mum was picking them up
young person thanked us for providing them with a bus fare
It was a late night but one that in three hourse encapsulated the work of the project, the acceptance of the project in the lives of young people and the various ways we can support young people on the streets and also long term.
oh yeah, and today that young person starts work at the charity shop....
Sadly, this month sees the end of my year-and-a-half stint as a student on the Sidewalk Project. In that time I’ve taken part in more than 70 Friday evening sessions in the City Centre plus numerous sessions at St John’s School and Perth College. In addition to these, I’ve also had the opportunity to work for the project behind the scenes in the YMCA office and see the project develop from the inside.
Firstly, it’s worth putting right some misconceptions and answering some FAQ’s about what it’s like working as a detached youth worker;
1) No, you don’t get much abuse on the street
2) Being only a student, I do get paid for doing this but not a full time wage (like James)
3) Most importantly; no it’s not boring or cold (well, sometimes it’s cold); we actually really enjoy what we do.
And that is the over riding feeling that I’ll take with me from my experience on the project – enjoyment. While seeing everyone else leave the office to go home at 5 o’clock takes a bit of getting used to, my Friday evenings have become an enjoyable routine as we work through our checklist and pray as a team before heading out excited and ready for action whilst not having a clue what the night will bring.
What I will say is it really is an amazing feeling when a young person or group of young people engage in conversation with us. While we always understand when people don’t want to talk or are wary of ‘who these strangers are talking to us’, I’ve generally found that most young people are really easy going and happy to give us the chance to chat with them. Of course, what means more than that is when young people give us the chance to listen. In 18 months I’ve heard stories that have encouraged me and some that have left me feeling quite disheartened. Some have made me laugh and others have moved me so much that I’ve not been able to sleep at night. The range of different characters and lifestyles of the young people of Perth along with the issues they face ensure that going out on the street is never a chore. Sure, we have some quiet nights with not many people about but there’s always a colleague from the Sidewalk team to wander the streets with and keep me entertained in one way or another (we once had a great Bob Marley sing-song with a busker but that’s another story for another time).
Plus, getting the opportunity to work in both a school and a college has opened my eyes to quite how many young people live in such a small town. I now know I can’t walk through town without bumping into someone that I’ve met on Sidewalk in some way or another. It’s always good when we bump into someone who we haven’t seen in while and find out what’s going on in their lives. I’ve come to know that what’s happening in these lives are hugely valuable in the eyes of the project and knowing that we can be given the chance to get alongside young people as they deal with what life brings is what makes going out each night completely worthwhile.
I’m sad to be missing out on all this every Friday but even though I’ll not be working as a student, I still get to help out on the project as a volunteer so I’ll be out on the streets hopefully one Friday a month.
Other than that, thanks for some really cool memories.
And (I’m sure) I’ll see you around.
It has been a busy start to the year for the Sidewalk Project, As well as the evening sessions on Fridays/Saturdays, whic have become more busy recently, we have continued the work in the schools and the college. Recently James went to a conference for the SNAPY network and gleaned much information about the work of resilience in young people and also the way in which youthwork can play a pivotal role in helping young adults at times of difficulty especilly those relating to alcohol misuse. The staff and management of the project have worked on the formation of a strategy which will set out the plans of the project over the next few years. Recently as well the project has met with a couple of young people individually on a regular basis to enable them to overcome challenges that are affecting them.
This week saw the beginning of the fifth batch of training for a new group of volunteers, the training will take place at Riverside church on Mondays 7.30pm.
Happy New Year to you all from the Sidewalk Team!
The new school term has started and the Project continues to grow as we move into the autumn... The work starts again in the schools, with the Grammar school on the way soon, we have started working on a thursday evening in the City Centre, this was an interesting evening ( like they all are) and we met some really interesting and mature young people who had had some challenging experiences in their lives and were looking to moving on either in their work and career or to commit to voluntary work to give back to society, a real inspiration to us and to many other young people.
We are pleased to announce that Pamela Campbell will be starting with the project soon, she will be studying Youthwork at International Christian College and working 20 hrs per week with us on the project. She like other new volunteers will undergo the next batch of training in October, in which there will be contributions from existing volunteers Matthew and Laura.
Its an exiting time, and to keep you posted on all of this we have now created our new website to give you more information, we hope you enjoy it...