“Inspiring, interesting and informative”, the three words most used to describe Mentor’s youth advisors #LDNprev conference to discuss helping young Londoners to be safer when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
The conference included sessions on school drug and alcohol education, the skills that parents need to discuss these issues with their children, and on community safety. These were based on research that our youth advisors had carried out with over 1,000 young people, experts, and policy makers and have been written up into three short papers published on our website.
Never underestimate the power of youth work. It’s a way of working with young people that, at its core, is about meaningful relationships, relationships defined by clear boundaries, which seek to engage, motivate and inspire.
I have been priveleged to work with The London Youth Involvement Project for the last year with a group of remarkable young people. Sadly, that work is coming to an end as the permananent project officer is returning to to take over, the fantastic Nicola. We often fail to recognise the importance of “healthy” endings. With this in mind our ending of this phase of the project was to have a day out enjoying each other’s company and challenging ourselves with some exciting activities including the dreaded “Leap of Faith”. We shared a bbq and each young person chose a card at random to keep to remind them of our time working together, along the following lines. “Fun, your guidance is to take time to enjoy yourself. Relax and find your sense of humour. Treat things lightly. Fun brings lightness of spirit, and the most difficult situations can be eased if you see the funny side of things, so cultivate a sense of the ridiculous.
The work has reminded me of the value of frames of reference. And a vital one is to have an understanding of the importance of healthy attachments including the making and ending of them. Bowlby has written widely on this and it is a key theoretical component of “That Can Be Me”.
Remember the importance of, and pay attention to, positive endings.
Some of the young people involved in the Mentor Youth project in London