Isnt Detached youthwork dangerous? ( or variants of this type of question- ie dont you get stabbed?)
I think what we have found in doing detached youthwork in Perth is that, contrary to popular opinion- especially a media portrayed one, is that young people in the vast majority are respectful to us, are interesting in and of themselves, and are looking to find their place in society and the world. Rarely have we ever encountered any abuse against us personally ( and i mean rarely, only 3 incidents in 4 years spring to mind), and even when young people have been drinking any violence tends to be with each other, or more unfortunately with those who attempt to control them or move them ie the police. We have had many thousands of conversations with young people and none of these would have happened had we thought for a second that we were in danger and be in fear of the young people.
How do you start a conversation with young people, that must be so difficult?
The Easiest way to answer this is to say to you to come and join us, our teams and the Sidewalk project are well accepted in the town, through extensive work publicising what we do in schools and having been in the City Centre for 4 years, and Muirton/North Muirton for 2. Sometimes young people are fearful of us, in the 'unsure of strangers' kind of thing, and thats when its good to give information about who we are, what we do and maybe hand out the contact/info cards, this usually helps the young people to trust us a bit. Often its about giving respect to young people, not overcrowding thier space, reading body language and using open respectful conversation openers, such as "hi Guys hows things" as opposed to "Hi Guys, what are you up to?" subtle differences make a big difference. Its not difficult and the training you get as a volunteer would really help as we look at the element of conversation in detail.
Do you get Paid for this?
We get this question alot when we're on the streets, and the short answer is yes some of us do, but most of us dont. James Coordinates the project so is full time (and , yes, paid) , Pamela is a Student who is paid living allowances whilst she is studying, but the rest of the teams are all volunteers, theyre more than that, theyre really enthusiastic and committed people who are passionate about the work of the project and also about encouraging and supporting young adults.
How is what you do 'Christian' ?
This is more of a question that we ask ourselves, and ask it alot, because its what we say we are, Christian youthwork, and most of our volunteers are christians or regular church goers, so how is what we do christian?
For most of us, being a Christian is about belief and faith in Jesus, and being on a journey with him, and trying to uphold to Values, and these values we consider Christian, are those that we try and model in our work with young people. So accepting young people, not judging them, being respectful, showing concern, compassion and care for them are ways in which we model christian values, and Christ himself. We believe that all people are made in the image of God and as such have value as they are, this includes young adults again as they are not for what they may become.
Many times young people have commented on the fact that we dont force God on them, and we dont, because its about what the young people want to talk to us about, or share with us, and yes there are times when this is obviously about spiritual experiences and we can then be asked or ask further questions about this.
Please do not think that we avoid the spiritual aspects of our work, because it doesnt appear that we are Christian, and i would challenge you to consider how christian most evangelism is if it is that you have christian and evangelism intertwined, we are not evangelists on the streets, we are Christian.
How can i get involved in The Sidewalk project?
Funny you should ask this, we are always looking for new volunteers to increase numbers, abilities and experience to our volunteer team, so if you're over 18, keen to work with young people and are sympathetic to christian values/beliefs, then you will be suitable for this.
We will train you up before you are out on the streets talking to young people and try and give you opportunities to meet the other staff members or volunteers that may be with you at the time. Training takes 6 weeks and is usually one night a week for about 3 hours each session.
There are other ways of being involved if being out on the streets isnt for you:
You can be on the base, supporting the street teams via a phone line
You can arrange to make food for the team as they head out each night ( yum yum)
You could pray during the times of the sessions or organise prayer meetings for others to do so
If you want to take on more of an overseeing role, You could become involved in the Sidewalk Management group.
These are just some of the ways that you can get involved, for more information contact James or Pamela at 01738 580001