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November 25th, 2011

168 Hours in a Week

I was struck this week after 2 significant conversations with 2 different young people about their complicated family set up’s and that the context a young person lives in is so key to who they are. For every 2 hours they are with us a week there are 166 hours of the week they are not with us. This simple fact is easily forgotten.

I spoke to two 12 year old boys on Monday of this week from two completely different areas that had not had good relationships with their biological fathers. Subsequently they had both built relationships with step fathers but both said they were ‘sad’ about not seeing or knowing their ‘real’ dad. Both of the young men also have tendencies to push boundaries and try our patience; incidentally their behaviour is actually very different, but equally disruptive. I am NOT saying the fact that they ‘miss’ their biological fathers is a direct cause of their challenging behaviour, but what it did remind me of was that young people face diverse and difficult situations and these have knock on consequences of which we see in our sessions.

Although, as we mentioned in a previous blog, managing challenging behaviour and young people pushing boundaries is an essential part of a youth workers role, it is important to recognise the limits of that role. We are only with young people for short periods each week and actually they are going back to homes or situations that are difficult and that they find challenging. When dealing with behaviour we have to realise the bigger picture the wider context otherwise it is like us trying to put a sticking plaster on a broken leg. Saying all that those 2 hours that they are with us can be the most life changing, informative, inspirational, shaping hours of that young persons life and that is what we are aiming at.

In other news: we are excited to be heading toward the Christmas period which for the Canaan Project means the amazing Christmas Quiz night! This was a real hit last year and we are hoping for a similar reaction this year. We are also doing 2 ‘anti bullying’ workshops, looking at young peoples’ attitudes toward bullying. Exciting times!