“It was amazing participation, because I had to step back, and they had to step up.”Kally
Kally and Holly chat about meeting young people, participation and the joys of young people fuelled youth work.
A tale of two buses
Kally is in Weston-super-Mare. Holly in Sevenoaks. They meet to talk about meeting young people, participation and the joys of young people fuelled youth work.
Kally – We both do detached work with a bus. I do three nights across three local estates. It’s good not to be set in a building and each estate is very different. How many nights do you go out?
Holly – Sadly, just one night a week at the moment in a local park. Because of volunteer shortages. We were doing a second night in a different park which we had to drop temporarily. It’s hard because we are losing contact with people. I hope it’s not going to be like fully starting again because I still know many families. But it’s a shame because the other detached night is growing and growing.
Kally – When we went back out after the pandemic, we almost took the approach that we were starting again because it’d been so long. And we found that the young people had changed so much! I found it strange that the young ones we had pre-covid didn’t come back. But it was nothing about us, it was just about them progressing with their lives.
Holly – Do all the young people you see want to engage with you?
Kally – Not all of them. Some love it, while others are like “get away from me! Why are you in my park?” I guess I like to challenge those ones, “This is my park too, I’m just coming to say hi”.
Holly – I’ve really learnt to not go in too strong and heavy. And that it takes a few weeks; starting small with just a hello. Letting them just watch what we are doing.
Kally – It progresses slowly. They start by ignoring me completely and then if I see them in the street I’ll get a little nod. Taking the fire pit really helps actually. Maybe because it’s a little further away from the bus. It draws them in and eventually they will say yes to toasting a marshmallow.
Holly – In the beginning I wanted to go over and ask a load of questions but that can be quite scary for some – especially if they think you are from the council or whatever.
Kally – Sometimes they say I’m undercover: “You’re an undercover fed!” I say “no im not, I’m a youth worker!”
Holly – I’ve noticed it takes time. Because of Covid we lost a whole group that just disappeared. But the ones we’re engaging with now are really used to us; and know we are gonna be there every week and aren’t intimidated.
Kally – How do you plan what you do?
Holly – I get ideas from the young people. They lead what we do. If their suggestions are doable we will do it. It’s not always possible though and it’s frustrating when I hear great ideas from them and I’m not in a place where I can take them forward.
Kally – I’ve been trying to empower the young people here to do the work themselves. But it has been hard to get my head around fully. However, I was forced to this Christmas. We had this pantomime trip & hampers to deliver. And I unfortunately broke my elbow and I couldn’t work at all! So the young people did it all: the planning, the shopping, the budgeting, all of it. I even gave them the credit card, which people were shocked by. It was amazing participation because I had to step back and they had to step up.
Kally – I think it helps that I don’t tell them what to do. I’m not leading them. We do it together. For me it’s about slowly building them up so they know they have a voice and that they can use it.
Kally Critchley works for South Weston Activity Network and the Boombox Youth Project in Weston-super-Mare. Holly Brazier is Lead Youth Worker for Severnoaks Area Youth Trust.
This article taken from the Spring edition of the FYT Zine on the theme of Here and Now. Download the full Zine here: