Memoirs of a Detached Youth Worker


INTRODUCTION

I wasn’t always a Detached Youth Worker…the first serious job I had was as an apprentice motor mechanic at 16..(we left school at 15 back in the day) with a main Ford dealer in Sheffield (TCH). by the time I left I could strip a gearbox, bang a clutch in and regrind valves and rocker shafts with the best of ’em. But…something was missing from my life and at 19 I joined the army looking for travel and adventure. I tried to get in the R.E.M.E. but they weren’t recruiting vehicle mechanics, so it was the local Cavalry regiment, the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (QMO). I had my heart set on being a Tank driver/mechanic but they trained me as a Radio operator/Loader. I was a better loader than a radio man and thoroughly enjoyed my time on the tank firing ranges, getting three H.E.S.H. rounds in the air at the same time on a long range shoot on one occasion. (That will mean nothing to anyone but a tankie). On demob after 9 years, during which time I had married Christine and had two children, I left the regiment for civvy street. What a change in lifestyle !!!. Tried to go back to being a mechanic but things had advanced so much, technology wise, I was out of my depth…several years as a labourer in an engineering works, two years laid up with a slipped disc and unemployed …and whilst all this was going on…I discovered the incredible world of working with young people and helping them to reach their potential…..read on macduff….

CHAPTER ONE…THE VOLUNTARY YEARS.

I first thought about youth work seriously after several altercations with the very wayward youth of the estate I lived on, and thought about what could be done to ‘Get them off the streets’. The tenant’s association wasn’t doing much, so I got myself elected onto the committee and suggested we find premises to start a Youth Club. A small group of us approached the Parks Dept. and enquired about a two nights per week youth club for the estate. After weeks of waiting we finally got the go ahead and started to get organised and ready to open the youth club…electing a committee, opening bank accounts, raising funds, getting people to actually work in the club (all volunteers), who would run the coffee bar etc etc. Finally, we were ready to open and after much publicity and banging of drums, we opened and a fair number of young people turned up to see what was what. We had very little equipment in those early days…a small snooker table was donated by a well wisher..the type of table that when you hit the cue ball, it described an arc from left to right across the table, one of the committee wrote to a catalogue company and they donated a super competition fold up table with all the trimmings. Time moved on and we got some funding from the City council Youth Service and we were getting around 30-40 young people a night in…when we put live bands on the place was crowded. We facilitated a young people’s committee and they got to grips organising themselves and the club program, footy teams, netball etc, They did very well as did the small team of adults who were the voluntary workforce. I managed to procure a second hand disco rig and lights, so we had a regular weekly disco and I started going round other voluntary clubs doing a disco for a tenner for them which funded our fortnightly record purchases, (no C.D’s them days !!)

I began to realise that in order to develop the club, along with the staff and myself, we needed some professional training as opposed to flying by the seat of our pants…I was elected to be the one who did the training because I had ‘MUG’ writen on my forehead !! ….Well that turned out to be the key that opened the floodgates. I discovered psychology, sociology, Adolescent development, group work theory, the list was endless, and I soon realised that I wanted more, and in more depth. The part time training provided by the Youth Service was simply not enough for me and it wasn’t happening fast enough.

I did a disco for a Youth Service club and talked to the youth worker in charge about training, and how frustrated I was with how it was progressing, among other things. The night ended and I packed up my gear and put the tenner in my pocket and left. A couple of nights later the phone rang and it was J, the youth worker in charge of the club I did the disco at. She said the she and a friend were going to visit Matlock College of Higher Education to see about a 2 year full time youth work course, Ratified by Nottingham Uni and did I fancy tagging along. I said yes and a few days later, off we went.

I was invited back for a formal interview several weeks later and what a tough one it was…I was accepted and from that point onwards, my life dramatically changed to such an extent, that I simply left my old self behind and embarked on a voyage of self discovery. It was a few weeks later as the course started, that I ceased my involvement with the small voluntary Youth club on my estate. Chapter 2 will tell of my voyage of self discovery whilst training for full time professional Youth work…….

CHAPTER 2…THE VOYAGE

The thought of self discovery never, for one minute, entered my mind in that September of 1983 as I boarded the good ship ‘Higher Education’…I thought I was a pretty switched on guy, with lots of life experience that I could share with all the other ‘mature’ students and my overriding concern was, how well would I cope with re entering education after so many years ? I thought I would be attending lectures and taking notes and LEARNING  STUFF that would magically make me into the complete ‘Youth Worker’. Another concern was, how would I manage with a wife and two small children to support, on an education grant of less than £5k a year ? It had to be done…I needed my mind stretching …I needed to learn.
The first day was taken up by all things admin and meeting some of the second year students again (we had met some of them previously during the interview process) … And of course getting to know the other course members better. I think there were twenty two of us in total, and the ages ranged widely from about 25 to about 40…all with very different backgrounds and very different life experiences. We met all the staff who would be facilitating our learning, and we were allocated our personal Tutors. Mine was a marvellous guy called Richard, and I would eventually discover how best to use him as a Tutor, to my great benefit. Richard was also the lecturer on Counselling skills. The course leader, Bob, took us for Social Education, a wonderful woman called Vicky gave us Sociology, an equally wonderful man, Geoff, gave us Psychology. It pains me that I can’t remember the name of a great guy who gave us Management…it will come back to me I’m sure and I’ll mention him later….(24 hrs later….) Got it..Tony, the management Theory guy. Judith, joined us in the second year as a lecturer on Community, and that was about it for the staff. Little did I know it then,  but two or three of those tutors would have a massive  impact on my life, and today, almost thirty years later, and 5 years since I retired, the shock waves of astounding revelations still echo in my mind. The two tutors mostly responsible for all the Cognitive Dissonance  were Vicky and Geoff…Sociology and Psychology respectively.                                                       cogsinwall

I was always, I considered, a socialist at heart…being a life long trade unionist, member of the Labour party etc….but as the first year of the course progressed, I was able to connect  the theory and political science to my life experiences, and well…I was amazed as I was allowed to look deeper into the structure of our society, Class , Power , Economics,  and the theories of Marx,Freud, Hobbes ….et al. It was mind blowing to have things that made society what it is explained to me. A veil was lifted from my eyes and my mind…I began to see the where and how and the why I fitted into my life as I did…and on the other hand, how I could change my position in society. The first really painfull adaptation I had to make to my life was coming to terms with my sexism…my oppression of women…the very word ‘oppression’ was at once abhorrent to me, and yet here I was oppressing women !!! I’ll not go into too much detail of what the revelation did to me , but rest assured I tried valiantly to mend my ways. In the beginning it was a struggle…and it lasted years!!! ….I have now reached a stage of my life where I regard myself  as ..’a Conscious Anti-Sexist‘,  in that I still, through being a male and surrounded by sexist attitudes, from time to time, have to remind myself of my principles and get a grip on my behaviour. I think it will be a life times work, but I am still striving.

The next ‘painfull’ experience for me was addressing my RACISM. I had, untill that year, been quite happy in the knowledge that I was NOT racist  in any form. I never used the ‘N’ word and I was always utterly shocked when seeing things like the  footage on the BBC news of how the black people of the Southern States in America were being treat. My belief was what all racism is based on and that was ignorance. Well, I soon got educated !!! I learned so much that was wonderful in other cultures, including how different cultures viewed ME as a white English man…That was a bit of a shock !!.   We were lucky in that on the course we had a grand young woman of Afro Caribbean descent, Sheila,  and a young man of  Asian descent, Nassir, who were able to introduce us, as students, to their communities. That was a good experience and my education continued for the whole two years and well beyond into my field work. Altering my perceptions and beliefs, changing my attitudes about ethnic groups was a long and sometimes painfull process. I think I came through it well and my ignorance has  been addressed and I am now at the stage of being, almost, an unconscious anti racist, in that I don’t have to think about modifying my behaviour, the correct behaviour comes without thought. That has taken me about 25 years to achieve…..so much for what Sociology did for me…( It did many more things, including strengthening my socialist  leanings and reinforcing my allready  existing principles. God I learned so much !!

Psychology was the other eye opener for me…It was a subject I considered ‘Highbrow’ and rather like the workers in the pages of ‘Robert Treswell’s novel,  THE RAGGED TROUSERED  PHILANTHROPISTS…” Not for the likes of us…”  The Psychology module consisted of several parts…The concept of  SELF  was just mind blowing for me. I learned so much about ME and why I did things…what made me tick. I charted my development from birth to where I was then in 1983. I very quickly saw that If a person understood themselves completely, or as completely as possible, then they were in a position to understand the people they were working with. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY was a real turn on…how and why people acted in society at large, the dynamics of group work…. forming, storming, norming and performing…etc etc. but the one thing that really grabbed my attention was… SOCIAL  ATTITUDES…and how we, as youth workers, could facilitate  the changing of attitudes !!  I was so wrapped up in this particular process, that I did my 12,000 word dissertation on the subject..’Social Attitudes and the process of measurement and Change’…(A+..brag brag ). It was like we had been given the chance to play GOD…given time, resources and continuity, we could change racist attitudes in young people. we could change Homophobic attitudes…the list was endless…So Thank you Vicky and thank you Geoff…thanks to all the Tutors who guided me on the Path I had chosen….The Voyage of Self Discovery.

And thanks to all the students on the course, we shared so much together…my travelling companions of the class of ’85 , Jan, June, Eric,Dave, I wouldn’t have made it without you.   This Chapter may end here, but the journey continued. In my incarnation as a Youth Worker, there was NEVER a day I didn’t learn something about myself or learn something from the people I worked with, be it my staff teams or the client groups. It has been the only job I have ever had where I developed a TRUE PASSION for the work.

IN CHAPTER THREE….I’ll talk a little about my introduction to full time professional Youth Work. There started ANOTHER voyage….and the seas were sometimes VERY rough indeed!!!!

CHAPTER THREE

(or: the learning curve was so steep, I nearly fell off !!!)

 THE FIRST JOB after gaining my professional qualification was with the Staffordshire authority, and it was my first (and last) interview by a non professional management committee. The committee was made up of one senior Youth service manager and the rest of it was just ordinary people with no real knowledge of youth work or, for that matter, young people. My interview went as follows….; I presented my qualification documents along with my Red Book…my military service record, and as soon as I presented my Red Book, youth work went out of the window…All they wanted to hear about was my military career. For a full 45 minutes they had me talking about my life in a Cavalry Regiment. Of course, I was an expert on the subject and excelled in every department…I knew I had the job as soon as they showed interest in only the military side of my expertise. They asked me if I wanted the job there and then. I took it at JNC level 3…as an Area Youth worker…here was my chance to change the world with all my ideas…a job after two years on the dole and two in higher education.

It was a baptism of fire of the highest order…The part time staff at the main centre were so against the concept of a full time worker it was unbelievable…they ignored me and my plans, came and went as they saw fit and even organised, among themselves events and activities in direct competition to ones we planned in staff meetings. I was so naive.
. I buried my naivetyand realised It would be VERY difficult to change the world.and the experience was so painful … supervision was very strictly of the management type with no room for any personal or developmental stuff and I quickly lost my appetite for any kind of involvement with the job. To make matters worse, I was commuting from Sheffield every day and not getting home untill midnight some nights. One night, during the Winter , I heard the weather forecast of heavy snow that evening on the hills round Buxton, so I decided to make an early run for home, such was my dislike of the workplace and the staff…20 mins into the drive it started snowing and 15 minutes later I had to abandon the car and try walking in snow up to my knees (and getting deeper!!) to Buxton. I thought I was going to perish that night and if a guy in a 4×4 hadn’t passed me and given me a lift into Chesterfield, I really think I would be playing a harp now…or wielding a shovel !!! Such was my loathing of the situation I found myself in at work. The upside of almost freezing to death was that I had a week off work whilst the snow plough made the roads passable again….( they took it off my annual leave, saying that I should have booked into the hotel at the top of the road !!!! ….As if !!!  )         Many other things happened that reinforced the belief that I could not continue in the job…I uncovered blackmail, sexual abuse and other dodgy goings on…I couldn’t cope with a management system that told me to get on with the job whilst not offering any support at all…… so I resigned and tried to blot it out of my mind. Because I was so critical of the management and their modus operandi, I was loath to ask for any references if I got another job, it was unclear at the time if I had the stomach for another job in youth work and there followed a period of life on the dole again. Even now after retiring, I refer to my six months in Staffs as my ‘No Time’ but…..with the benefit of hindsight, even though the learning curve was so steep I nearly fell off….I took a lot of positives out of an experience which almost made me give up youth work entirely.

It was a time when Sheffield City Council were practicing what they called ‘Positive Discrimination’, which in a nutshell meant that I could not get a job in the Sheffield Youth Service because I wasn’t a Black one parent Lesbian with a disability…I know, it sound discriminatory when said like that, but it describes perfectly the situation at the time. Priority was being given to Ethnic minorities,  females and people with disabilities who were, and probably still are, under represented in the professional workforce…A job came up in Chesterfield for a six month cover of maternity leave in the Community Education service….I applied for and got the job, Without a reference from Staffs, which set me up nicely for the job market in six months time….it was a nice little job, no time to do anything but keep things ticking over until the post holder came back and I spent most of my time spending a Community Education grant and developing work with the young unemployed, as well as getting some of the best Anti- Racism training I have ever come across……….The most important thing was, I got a good reference and expanded my CV ready for the next phase  of my working life. ……….’ALL ROADS LEAD TO HULL’….

     It was October 1988 when I saw the advert for a level three Youth worker to manage a full time school based youth centre in Hull, and a part time Junior club based at another school. All I knew about Hull was Fish and the ‘Cod war’ with Iceland  (the Island nation, not the freezer chain !!! ) I spent days on my application..as you do (or is that just me ??) Tweaked my CV and posted it. After three weeks waiting I thought, “Another authority that doesn’t even acknowledge your application.” So I gave up on that one and renewed my search for employment as well as questioning whether or not I wanted to continue in youth work…Four weeks later I received a letter inviting me for a full days interview at the West Hull Area Youth office…my joy knew no bounds…at last!! someone thought I was worth a shot. I checked maps and found out where Hull was, planned a route and drove up on a dummy run so that I would know where I was going on the day…my car used three pints of oil getting there !!! If I got the job, I thought that a better car would be in order, one that didn’t have a blue coloured cloud of smoke following it everywhere and left a trail of oil on the road…..but that would be IF I got offered the job…..I couldn’t afford any new clothes for the interview so had to make do and mend and hope I didn’t look too scruffy, I bought a gallon of engine oil to get me to Hull and back and off I went for a grueling interview. When I saw and talked to the other candidates for the job my heart sank as they were all seemingly very high quality…including one who later became an Area manager !! …. Anyway I straightened  my Tie, Girded my loins and got through the interview just about to plan. Every one got the same comment at the end…”Thanks for applying, we’ll let you know in about a week.” A week later The Area manager rang and offered me the job….I can still here his laughter as I whooped with delight and relief  and said , “Yes, I can start on December 1st.”

I did get a better car on the strength of my letter of appointment…a Capri xl …well, It didn’t leak oil or spit out clouds of blue smoke…and…it had a sunroof !!! I was quite proud as I drove into the Area office car park for the start of my induction. Armed with all the paper work I was given a huge bunch of keys and sent off to the Sydney Smith Youth Centre to begin my new career proper. ………. It was a youth centre that had seen better days…10/15 years ago it was very popular with young people, Discos being able to attract well over 100 people a night. Over the years since, it had declined, and being on a school site didn’t help. Neither did the fact it was in the middle of nowhere. However, most of the staff were keen and worked hard, a couple of the senior part time workers were teachers (and it showed) from the days when teachers could do a Youth Work Option, tacked onto their training and that sufficed as a youth work qualification. Sports did well and we could use the school facilities, namely a 25 meter Pool and two gyms as well as the playing fields. The full time team of Youth workers in the city were a grand lot and helped me enormously to settle in and get my bearings as well as ideas gained from my visits to other clubs and centres. The members of  the Youth Centre were  very friendly and warmly welcomed me to Hull…..though for several years they ribbed me about my West Riding accent and were constantly asking me to ‘Put t’wood in’t oil then’. In short we got on quite well. I began to develop a members committee, though I never liked that term so called it the Member’s Action Group,  and the young people rose to the challenge. After a while as their confidence grew and they found the limits they could safely work to, they began to take charge of their Youth Centre program of events, had representation at all staff meetings and actually had a veto to use on any decisions made by adult staff…though it was never used. Through a process of social and political education as well as the increase in self confidence, the young people instigated campaigns on all manner of issues, from awareness campaigns on Gay relationships, Racism, sexual health and women’s issues. The latter issue spawned a Girls only night and workers were recruited and trained to facilitate it’s development.  It was significant that all the male members of staff didn’t see the value of some outreach work outside the school site whilst the Young women’s night was in operation.  Funding was always a bug bear…never enough for the right things. I was constantly frustrated at other clubs getting large amounts of cash for traditional youth club events and, The Action group at Sydney Smith getting nothing fo

radical new innovations. …………With a lot of the ‘traditional’ youth clubs it was all about bums on seats and that looked good to the City councilors  in charge of the purse strings. Whilst I could see where the managers were coming from, I was critical of their modus operandi and I was a constant thorn in their side………

It was about this time, three years after starting work in Hull, that I realised I had done all I could at the Youth centre, it was virtually running itself with the Action group and I needed a bigger challenge…something that would stretch me and challenge my skills.  I had never considered Detached Youth Work , in fact it had always been a bit scary to me….working with groups of young men on street corners???!!! no health and safety???!!!…Dark???!!!…”Not for the likes of me”…I said, quoting Robert Treswell to myself, ” Not for the likes of me” indeed. Then I noticed, not for the first time I may add, a report that a female colleague of mine  had written about the Young women’s City Centre Detached Team and the work they were doing…in the dark, no health and safety (or so I thought at the time!!) with groups of young women on street corners !!!! (Let me tell YOU, there are some pretty scary groups of young women on the dark streets of Kingston upon Hull…pretty scary indeed!!)….I looked at the report again and read it again, and compared the means as well as the ends to my Centre based results…..I liked what I saw and from then on took more notice of the work she…Oh! all right then, I don’t think she ‘ll mind…MIRIAM..took more notice of the work Miriam and her team were involved in and was mightily impressed. To cut a long and rather boring story short, I approached my area manager and told him how I felt and things were set in motion re specialist training. Miriam figured in this and it was her training course that made me realise that detached work was for me. More bits of training and it was time to recruit some part time staff and get cracking.

The recruitment drive went well and the last young woman we saw (she was  half an hour late after being involved in a traffic accident !!!!) rang all the professional bells and was employed. At last I had a team to work with…all two of us !!!…..

    The next chapter will trace my involvement in the scary art of;

 DETACHED YOUTH WORK IN HULL….AND OTHER PLACES

                                                               along with the pitfalls and the pleasures….


 CHAPTER 4
      It was a very strange feeling, Leaving the Syndey Smith Youth Centre with a large team of part time workers, to work with a team of one other. Dear NICOLA, who had done some outreach work before joining detached team, mainly with a traveller community, was a stalwart and an inspiration in the early days of streetwork in West Hull. There was opposition to the setting up of the team because few people saw the value indeed NEED, for detached work in West Hull, as traditionally the ‘West End’ in a City is usually the Affluent area, but together Nicola and I did a four month survey/recce of the area and it quickly became apparent that large parts of West Hull were desperate for Youth workers who could reach the unreachable and Community workers who believed in COMMUNITY ACTION..well, we were Community and Youth workers, so it was just the job for us. … For me, it took a lot longer than the four month recce to overcome the initial fear/concerns about working the streets with groups of young (and not so young) people, and in that time we discovered all the places where ‘things’ were happening..Glue sniffing dens, even who trafficked glue !! where the drug deals went down, where the young people went to drink etc, etc….even, at one point, where the ‘Rent boys’ plied their trade.
We also leaned to keep our ears open to the gossip going the rounds of both young people and adults …
cogsinwall
Being out on the ‘mean streets’, usually, but not exclusively, at night certainly made us more aware of personal safety and health and safety in general. Some situations made us VERY aware of the fact that in an emergency we could possibly have half a mile or so to walk in order to get to a phone and summon assistance.( Prior to this I would never have dreamed of buying a mobile phone !! In those far off days they were like house bricks anyway !!). This realisation prompted the first big fight with management to have mobile phones on a City Council contract for each pair of detached youth workers on the street. At first it was a no go…the management would not budge on the issue. A mobile phone was seen as a luxurious tool for managers and not as a necessity for ground troops. It took many months of hard work to convince the managers of the time that far from being a luxury for senior managers,  contact with other members of a detached team or at least , contact with a ‘Fat Controller’…(Thomas the Tank Engine fans will appreciate that !!) is an essential part of the Health and safety at work plan. We finally got our ‘House Bricks’ and communication, safety, our well being and efficiency improved no end. Other things
followed like wet weather clothing, access to more and  better training,. specific to Detached Youth Work and not generic youth work. At this point I recruited more staff…after another battle with management and began operating with a pair of workers on one half of an estate and a pair of workers on the other half. The amount of contacts we made and the issues we dealt with went up exponentially. The budget for the team went up as well…from £50 per year, everything after that had to be begged for on bended knee with cap in hand and forelock well pulled !!! to an amazing £500 per year with anything over that having to be begged for on bended knee etc…eyeball
   Word of the teams prowess and good practice began to filter through to other Detached teams just starting out in other authorities up and down the country. I had a full team of youth workers from the West Country come up to Hull to talk to me and see how we operated. Teams and managers from Lincs, Derbyshire and West Riding came to talk to us, so we must have been doing something right !!!  It did help by speaking at meetings in Leicester with the NYA (National Youth Agency). I remember on one such occasion I was speaking about personal safety and the need for mobile phones to a gathering of senior managers and I got a little hot under the collar with them when they said there was no need and it was an additional expense !! …well…I went to war with them, did a lot of finger jabbing…in the end I changed their minds  after mentioning the health and safety at work act, being sued and risk assessments.
    I firmly believed at that time, as I do still, that detached youth work is the most potcogsinwallent and effective type of youth work, reaching the most vulnerable in society and really Making a difference in the lives of young people…and the magical thing about it is that EVERY youth worker can do it and not have the constraints a building puts on them…….and even if it is adequately  funded….it’s cheaper and can reach more people than a building based project can. In fact, run alongside building based provision, can be a positive outreach tool to signpost young people to centre based work if that is appropriate for them…anyway, I digress…waffle even !!!
   I always found political education (politics with a small P), a very useful tool, even on occasion being rather directive when talking about Politics with a capital P, cases in point being educating young people about racism, in particular, and the pros and cons about listening to propaganda  concerning certain far right organisations…sometimes I think one has to be more directive in ones approach to issues concerning Human rights  and racism…. Some of the more common issues we had to deal with on the streets were related to drug use, family estrangements and Homelessness, with sexism, racism and homophobia being ever present.
    It was one of the very few working environments that I actually enjoyed staff meetings and supervision…not my personal supervision at work because I can’t remember ever having a supervision session that wasn’t either a friendly chat or pure management issues, with the exception of John G, that was quality !!…. but I enjoyed giving my staff a quality of supervision that was better that I had…a personal development model, which I developed as I gained experience in the task. Staff meeting were good to…we developed a port folio of Team policy documents which certainly gave me as manager bit of peace of mind, as well as clarification for the youth workers. We gained a lot from joining the National Federation of Detached Youth workers, being active at both  National and Regional levels…sharing experiences and good practice with other teams and participating in training events…we always sailed through OFSTED inspections even though they were a bit scary !!!spiders05
   We always seemed to have our best times and results during the long cold Winter nights…if you don’t count the nights in driving rain/snow/sleet and walking round for hours without meeting anyone… just kick up leaves, and there were nights, even weeks like that. maybe the young people need the warmth of a close group on those nights..I certainly did !!! We got to know our co-worker very well on nights like those…all we had to do was walk round and …’ Howl at the Moon ‘…the name I gave to a Newsletter I published for Detached and Outreach workers. It went Regional but didn’t make it to a National level due to a lack of funding.(sob… sob !!)
    As a Team, we were often used to satisfy a City Councillors whim, perhaps to make them feel more in control of their political sphere…to ‘show’ the voters they were worthy of the votes…It all seemed pretty ‘anal’ to me, the fact they could disrupt good working practices and ongoing projects and parachute some ‘Youth Workers’ in to sort out the areas problems…Mmmm…VERY anal. I have quite a few bad memories of when small time politicians wielded their stick to gain kudos with the community and disrupt quality provision in another area….Mmmm…Very anal indeed. Nuff said  on that !!.
    Anyway…1998 and 2000 saw me suffer a couple of Myocardial Infarctions which effectively put an end to my Detached involvement. I had a mish mash of positions after that, a Connexions Personal Advisor..what a disastrous innovation that was, Connexions….whoever thought that one up deserves a slap !! (He got one a few years later !!) Then I was moved to the Young Peoples Support Service (YPSS) as a youth worker attached to the Hull City Council’s leaving care team, then Early retirement beckoned and, as they say, the rest is history…….
    As I draw close to finishing this tome, this self satisfying account of a very small part of my working life, I realise how much of this is disappearing into the black hole of ‘lost memory’. All the young people our small team of detached workers helped are fading from my mind’s eye. Not because they are not worth remembering…far from it,  every young person we ever came into contact with are important because those young people are our future, maybe now they have been helped along the way to their future, and are now our present, we who facilitated their development fade into their past.
    I know I made a difference to some of them, and for that I feel some sense of worth.  Every team member who ever worked for the West Hull Detached Team made a difference, and, I hope, shared the passion I had for that particular style of Youth Work…a passion I still have though nowadays it hasn’t got an outlet…its bottled up and the pressure is building as I see more and more cuts passed down by this senseless uncaring government…. and on a National level, I see the street provision, so badly needed, cut to the bone…we can only bleed so much, then comes the death of a profession that was for many years at the forefront of nurturing our future…..Am I being cynical ???  ….. I think that’s just the way I roll nowadays.mummy15
Chapter the Last   
(and a few acknowledgements)
Well…That’s about it folks…like I said, the old memory isn’t what it used to be and no doubt some colleagues I had the pleasure of working with will say,”why didn’t he mention this or that”…. if I have offended anyone by an omission …sorry…but it must have been a genuine lapse of memory.
    The first person who I will mention (again…’cos I mentioned her earlier)…Is my hero …
MIRIAM……. such a woman,… whom I admire and respect enormously..Thank you for all your encouragement and expertise that put me on the road to the most enjoyable job I have ever had …God!! you made it look so easy !!
PHILL L …. for making it all happen
ELIZABETH W ….The best manager I never had. Thanks Liz for your support friendship and understanding
THELMA RENOLDS … Strong, resilient,, professional, knowledgable and a true friend…hope you are well Thelma.
NICOLA JL ….one of the most outstanding and skilfull youth workers I have had the pleasure  of knowing..whilst at WHDT you were the cornerstone of every endeavour we undertook, a light in the darkness and such a strong woman (even though you were late for your interview !!!). It was a pleasure to watch you develop the skills for higher management until you left us to follow your destiny with the Youth Council and other things.Thank you for being an inspiration, not only to me but to the whole team and the young people you touched with your light…
LYNNE S … A most amazing presence in the team, which would have been a dull affair without you..your dedication to the welfare of young people and your enthusiasm    for the job has always been your strength. It was a pleasure to manage you and was  so pleasing when you went on to become a manager yourself.
JULIE H … Outstanding and skilfull youth worker/Counsellor, a very perceptive and intuitive woman.. Such a supportive member of the team and me in particular. Thank you Julie
MARK T… Genuinely reached the ones  others could not reach (if Carlsberg did youth workers……) Sharpest tools in his box were his humour and professionalism. Started as a Student placement and it ballooned from there.
JULIA H … Everybody loved Julia, nothing daunted her spirit and her enthusiasm for detached work..she was a trainer on the National Federation conferences and so very professional…
Dave C … excellent youth worker, brought an alternative approach to street work. Very professional
    These are just a few of the very special people who worked for the West Hull Detached Team and people who had a massive positive influence on my work…I can’t mention them all but a heartfelt Thank you goes out to them and ALL the staff who worked for and with the Detached Team….Thank you.
JUST A FEW MORE OF THE YOUTH WORKERS I MET AND ADMIRED…
I can’t sign off without a mention of My favourite Yoof Worker..JULIE G, I truly admired your modus operandi, skills and professionalism .. you would have been a key member of the Detached team….if only !!!
ANGIE O’ in fact all the members of the Young women’s development team  were inspirational and an icon of professionalism.
   The brilliance still shines in people’s memory for the late JANET MOULDS who was more than inspirational for many young people and staff alike. My co-worker for a long time…she had magic.
To all the full time team of Youth workers from 1988 to 2007  I give my thanks for your support, help and Kindness…..to all who I have failed to mention…sorry…it’s not that I don’t value you, it’s just that every single person I worked with had worth beyond measure and are just too numerous to mention. It would be a VERY long list…
    That’s all folks, thank you for sharing in my journey…I may add bits later, as and when I remember them.Patrick John Pinder
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24 thoughts on “Memoirs of a Detached Youth Worker”

  1. Nice story Pat and always interesting to see what people get up to after leaving

  2. Always like reading your stuff – looking forward to chapter 2.

  3. Looking forward to reading more posts. Great start! Thanks also for visiting my blog. Cheers!

  4. Irene said:

    Great reaing Pat and very interesting learning about the events that brought you to youth work. I’m looking forward to reading more

    • steelcityman said:

      Thanks irenebabe …. for honouring my blog with your kind comments. next chapter due in about a weeks time.

  5. the passion you have pat, rubbed of on young people and the staff you worked with

    • steelcityman said:

      AWWW!!! Thanks Zoe…that brought a tear to me eye. Thank you for leaving such a nice comment. Your comments make it worthwhile writing this blog. xxxxxx

  6. Julie Gibson said:

    Just read it Pat, recommended by guess who…..Miriam!! wonder why!! How lovely to read your journey, makes me think back to my own, how we got into youth work, it was always going to happen at some time or other, a great job by far.
    Julie x

    • steelcityman said:

      Thanks Julie….so nice of you to comment so positively on my blog…you haven’t escaped, as you figure in my journey as well as Miriam and a host of others to be mentioned, mainly from the Young Women’s Development Team and other projects. Once again, Thank you. xxxxxx

  7. Marjorie said:

    Looking forward to reading the next chapter …I will always remember our campig trip to the Water sports Centre at Barton…would have liked to have worked with you more Pat …you are a lovely man.

    • steelcityman said:

      Thanks for your kind comments Marjorie….it was indeed a good w/end trip and it only went ahead because of you. xxxx

  8. keith eastwood said:

    I’m amazed you can even remember the subjects at uni. Let alone the tutors names. I enjoyed reading it, even got me reflecting on my own devious route into youthwork. Looking forward to the next chapter but where do you find the time to sit down and write?

    • Well…a blast from the past indeed !!! Hello Keith, nice of you to comment on the blog mon ami…The memory is fading and I have to struggle with remembering sometimes..As you may be able to see by the frequency of my writing, I don’t easily find the time to sit down and write and the memoirs have taken an age to write … I may add bits as I recall anything worth mentioning…thanks for the reply anyway Keith. Hope you are both well.

  9. What an amazing story. You made a difference. That is quite commendable.

  10. Well, I’m in awe. Your recounting is excellent, good to see with humour as well as the rough bits and how you learned and ploughed ahead.
    I hope you and your fam. have time to relax and enjoy each other – you are so deserving!
    I think your work is so vital and important. The cuts are disastrous, here as well.

  11. I really like your site Steelcity man,
    I will follow your journey, now “ENGAGE”

  12. This memoir is such a wonderful gift to all who read it, Pat. It brought back so many memories for me, but more importantly, it reminds me of the power of the human spirit. You over came so many challenges to use your incredible potential to make a difference in the lives of others. And you’ve shared an inspiring story about how it came about.

    I could relate to the story you told about your first job paid job in youth work. I can understand why the committee that hired you for your first youth work job was so interested in your military career. I’ve had those kind, too.

    There’s so much here in your story. The best I can do is say “Great work here!” – both in the doing and the telling.

  13. Thank you Carol A, that means so much coming from a person of your calibre and standing, I really appreciate it….you have re-inspired me to get writing again..(I’ve spent more time reading than writing !!). Thank you again xxx

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