The youth workers you meet again and again…
You know youth work, like many jobs I guess, gets the same applicants for jobs over and over again. As a result, your youth club has at least one of these people in it. You might even be one of them. I swear, they aren’t all bad, like everything, it’s all in the mix!
1. The mother in law
This youth worker knows what you are thinking. She knows what you should be doing. Is she gunna tell you? Nah. She’s going to stand there and look right through you. This is a worker who has been working da yoof since the dawn of time. There’s not an excuse she hasn’t seen and she knows a shoddy youth worker when she sees one. Her responses are so fast, you’d think she has a time machine. She responds to EVERYthing with a question. She never lets a swear word slip, or anything that could be twisted by a young person trying to wind her up. Nothing can wind her up. She has kids, they are probably older than you. She’s probably had more kids than anyone else would know what to do with, and you bet they are the most balanced, kind and caring individuals you’d ever meet, with nothing but praise for mama.
2. The wise man of the forest, also known as ‘The yoof whisperer’
This youth worker got his job before health and safety was a thing. You can tell this, because his risk assessments say ‘its ok’ on them, and nothing else. If they say anything at all, that is. To this dude, session planning is something other people do. If you go camping with this guy, he will forget the tents and insist you can make one out of leaves - what are you moaning about?? This worker owns a dog, which is never far away. They also know everyone and everyone knows them. They may or may not wear shoes. The one secret skill this worker has got is that you can bring him the angriest young person or the scariest situation, and he’ll deal with it. It will be okay. You will never know how he resolves these things, and you’ll always ask, but then he’ll look at you like you’re his grandkid or something and you just calm down and forget it. Aah!
3. The cool kid
This kid is so cool, all the yoofs wanna be them. They always look cool, say the right things, never stumble over their words or have some fashion disaster. They know exactly what’s going on in all the soaps, the local music scene, the internet… but they also make it seem super effortless too. Young people flock to this worker, who will play some pool with them, or beat them at some racing game or other, but then go off and be cool somewhere else.
4. The happy go lucky youth worker
This youth worker’s mum was a youth worker, so was their dad, and their folks before them. And their brothers and sisters, who they love, they are maybe teachers, students or youth workers. If you x-rayed and magnified this youth worker, you would see little cells saying ‘youth’ and ‘worker’ on them floating about. This person is always happy, always pleased to see you, and remembers your name even if you only met this one time like, 5 months ago at a training day. This youth worker is not up with the stuff and they dress like their parents. They are great at card games but have no idea who won X-Factor. They are interested in music, in that they might be able to play several instruments. They can climb rocks and fear nothing. They are fond of chocolate. They go out every night, but are never drunk, and have more friends than it is possible to count. They also find time to craft, knit, volunteer at animal shelters, play 3 types of sport, bake, blog and research local history. You will never know their secret.
6. The worrier
This youth worker is the first member of the team to have done their reports. They have done a risk assessment. They have risk assessed your biscuits. They fear being asked for a hot drink, in case someone spills it on someone else. This youth worker fears ‘the man’ in a big way. Their family do not do youth work. The worrier should never be left anywhere near the yoof whisperer or the boys club youth worker. The mother-in-law will have this youth worker collapse into a pile of worry on the floor with just one look. This youth worker, one day, will be totally amazing. But now, they will drive you mad.
7. The boys-club youth worker
You know when you have just sorted out some minor injury and major disagreement between a group of young people and things are just getting back into the swing of it all, and then through the swing doors comes hurricane boys-club youth worker? Yeh. This person, often a dude, messes up whatever you have got going on. If you have spent a whole night playing bad-cop about drinks in the hall etc., you can bet your inferior pay check that this dude will come flying in with a can of pop and a pack of Monster Munch going all over the floor as he bundles your newly calm group, chucks one of them over his shoulders and generally does all the stuff you’ve spent your whole night tying to moderate. Battle lost. If you are running a session, he’ll be chucking a foam football at someone’s head. This guy’s idea of working with girls is telling them to stop whining, or making some stupid comment about periods before running off. Yes, he is your youth club’s annoying little brother, and yes, he’s paid more than you.
Mince is a youth worker in England, who will leave it to you to determine which of these youth workers she has been, is now, or could be in the future.