The kind of service we give to the young people who use our services is of huge significance to them and their future, and how we are with them, how we engage with them is important in relation to the outcomes.
The most important thing in this work is the relationship we have with them. If we are to be effective, if we are to intervene effectively in their lives we have to win their trust.
We understand that we must break down the barriers of mistrust, which vulnerable young people put up naturally. They are normally coming from a dysfunctional family background. The Adults who should have loved them and cared for them in a wholesome way have let them down. Their perception is that Adults are not to be relied on, not to be trusted. We try to win their confidence. We try to give them a new and different experience of adults by the way we relate to them. Bosco found that the best way to get to know somebody is to engage in something that is not threatening. Doing something together, an activity something they are interested in, a game of football, cooking , gardening (Give us a hand to put out the flowers), artwork, cards, snooker, tennis, pitch and put, some activity which he gets caught up in with us and lets his guard down. These are useful tools of the trade which allow us to get in there, into his world.
If we can talk about the things they are interested in, we can engage more effectively. This is an important part of our task. It is about being on their wavelength, and being able to tune in. Our hope and plan is to build a bridge with them, to enable them to see us as adults who are genuinely interested in them and their wellbeing, adults they can relate to in a positive way, adults they can eventually trust with their story. When that happens, as key workers, as care staff we can hold things together when difficulties arise and when they behave inappropriately or act out and we have to challenge them, correct or offer direction to them. What we offer is much more readily accepted by them when we have won their trust.
This kind of presence with the young person puts us in a strong position. We are trusted. We can do effective mentoring. We can be seen as good role models. We have created the framework where Real and effective work can take place.
We combine the Salesian approach with the Therapeutic model of care which itself is about working from within the person. It is about attending to those negative feelings and experiences they have had in order to bring about healing. But we can’t do that until we have built a relationship with the young person, a relationship which leads to him having trust and confidence in us. And so the first series of meetings of a one to one nature is of the ‘getting to know you’ type usually involves some activity. Apart from listening to their story, our task is to give the young person a whole new experience, to say to him in so many ways, “you are a person of value and worth, You are important; This is a place where your voice will be heard, where your views and opinions are respected, where your feelings are treated with respect. This is a place where we work together, where we share things, where everyone makes a contribution.