In what seems like a non-stop series of tragic, unsettling and challenging news events, from the recent terror attacks to the Grenfell tower tragedy, I wanted to take a moment in the first of my blogs to reflect on how this should help form the mission and work at Youth First.
In my experience, this sector often finds it quite difficult to explain what youth, play and community work actually is or achieves. Indeed, youth workers traditionally struggle to find that magic methodology to demonstrate our impact and it is perhaps because of this that the sector has been so vulnerable to cuts. Yet, there are many people who choose to be youth workers and continue to strive in often challenging circumstances.
Going around the sites, I see the relationships youth workers build with young people and how the important impact these interactions have on them as individuals and therefore on the wider society. When faced with waking up to another tragic news story, I am consoled with thinking that at Youth First we are trying our hardest to offer young people safe places to explore who they are, supporting them to learn to think critically and to develop values that will make them happy, healthy and good citizens who can and will face up to the challenges that the future presents, able to make the right decisions for themselves, our society and the planet.
I know this is a rather grand and perhaps intangible claim and also puts a lot on the shoulders of the Youth First staff but I make no apologies for this. This is what drives the team in all we do, in each and every task we all undertake. To help inspire us to carry out our part in Youth First as best as we can, with attention to detail and a sense of purpose. To remind us that what we do is meaningful beyond simply getting paid and it helps on those days where we are faced with more sad news.
With these aims in mind, I also urge the teams to think about how we can offer young people time, space and support through one to one chats, informal group chats and more planned sessions, to think about world events and their response to them. I am convinced that if the staff at Youth First all take a moment to consider how their jobs play a part in building a strong organisation and a better society and then use this inspiration to focus on doing the best job we can, Youth First will succeed and help shape the citizens of tomorrow.