Working with young people requires dedication, sacrifice, planning and patience amongst a host of things. I picked on those items because they are some of the points I have observed, that are needed in our community. The Somali community in Britain.
Often have I witnessed the community willing to do something about the status of their younger ones, from falling behind in education, to crime and anti-social behaviour through to a never-ending array of negative items. We are not willing to invest the required time, we are not willing to sacrifice anything for a greater gain, we do not plan and instead haste to discussions that never lead anywhere or we fall into disputes and personal ambitions, whether it is a desire for recognition or new desires that rise from otherwise good intentions.
Let me pause here, and add a tiny cheeky disclaimer that I am not an expert in working with young people, I do not hold the fancy degrees or diplomas that might have given me a free ride in writing an article like this with the bold claims that will be made, nor am I an award winning member of the community that has spent years serving the community (bar one tiny sports award). My experience simply lies in working directly with young people for 6 years (give or take), in that time living their day to day life, working with them at various levels from crime and anti-social behaviour, to family disputes, employment to sports. In simple terms, for 6 years I have been one of the subjects.
Now that I have washed the blood off my hands (or attempted to), allow me to revisit the initial points in little more detail. I have grown tired of ‘we should do this, we should do that’ instead I prefer ‘we should do this and this is how i think it can be done’.
...and they were dedication, sacrifice, planning and patience...put them in any order you like.
Is anyone willing to invest 2 or 3 hours per day/week/month consistently in this cause? Is anyone willing to get out of their comfort zone to improve the status quo, without tweeting about it? How about those group of young people that you saw today, that you wish were never created. What if you understood their story and realised support laid within your realm. All silly stuff right, when is the next meeting?
Believe it or not, we have the individuals, organisations, community members and institutions to solve the problems around our young people. Believe it or not, we have a dozen regular meetings behind closed doors all talking the motivational talk on how we need to work together and resolve issues facing community. The problem is that each wants its own logo. We can raise a million quid overnight to establish the facilities we need, but hold on...which organisation do we give it to and why would we?...in short at some point in the process, it becomes about us and not so longer about them (the young people).
We lack seriously in this department. We are not willing to dig deep into the root causes of issues and create a sustainable plan that strategically tackles this. Instead, we have elders give speeches until death do us part. We need to create plans that are built on solid foundations, have the end in mind, and boil down to simple achievable tasks.
Wow, we have come to an endless plain, covering the areas the sky is not shy to show case. Young people are ungrateful, rude, dangerous or they can be joyful, committed, kind and active. Anybody can work with the latter, not so much with the former. We lack the patience to get into the field and change our perspectives by understanding what causes these issues, and when the going gets tough, to stand through the thick and thin. In other words, can you start a positive life for someone who could well end yours.
Remember the last time you went to a lecture, the feeling of want to go out and do something, whatever it was. Feeling like you would change the entire world in 30 minutes when the lecture ends, and few days later and you were still catching up on your favorite series; the momentum has passed. Whilst meetings, awards and many other forms of essentially ‘talking the talk’ can create the momentum, this is about seizing it. It is time to put our differences apart, our personal ambitions, the need to be recognised or known, the silly logos that are only grand to everybody except the young people.
Seize the momentum says let us bring together our resources; community leaders, parents, elders, professionals, and all those that care, whilst we have the momentum on our side, and establish a plan with a strategic context for solving our educational issues, crime and anti-social behaviour and all those things that matter to us as a whole. If not, catch you at the next community meeting.
"If you wait too long for the perfect moment, the perfect moment will pass you by"