Saturday, February 27, 2021

More of strategic work with Youth Gangs

 I posted memories from working with gangs yesterday.

SO I must follow it up with some more of strategic work with Youth Gangs

For much of my life I have worked as my mission in life with Young People on the edge or over the edge in terms of their offending behaviour. Beautiful humans.

Working with gangs has been a big stretch and also a massive learning.
I strive continually to understand violence and aggression to help me to be better able to be in a helping relationship with these BHP’s.

A Youth Club as often been the base of operations. Where contact is first made.
Where relationships commence and then ……..
Branches off that base have been events outside the club life. 
Such as residential experiences in the wilds of the country - or evening or day trips in the mini-bus AGAIN to build relationships as well as extend their life experiences.
Group work conducted strategically has been a major part of developmental work for me and the teams I have led.

I want to take you into an experience that still lives in my soul - 
join me ………


It had always been normal for many of our teenage boys to carry knives. 
One club evening we noticed other ‘tools‘ beginning to be smuggled into the club. 
Sticks, some with nails protruding, iron bars and hammers. 
At the same time sticks, stones and bottles were being hidden outside the building ready for the end of the club evening. 
The gang was preparing for battle.

One older age  gang, late teens, numbered only a few at this stage. 
Much work had been done with them over the years: their own Sunday club with their own bank account, holidays, weekends, many court appearances. 
Now they came to the club irregularly. 
The younger gang, up and coming powerhouse - aged around 15 - 18, were maturing and were now less disruptive, 
but well prepared to do battle with the hyperactive, disruptive, violent older gang. 
It was becoming a regular occurrence for them to attack and bait each other concluding in a street battle at club closing time with sticks, bricks and bottles being thrown.

It became so bad that we shut club completely for ten days to cool off. Never ever done before.

One evening, as the workers met to discuss the strategy for the future, the meeting was ‘steamed’. 
Forty or so kids came in and all of a sudden it became a gang meeting with two older boys taking the chair between them. 
I facilitated the meeting but in no way was I in control. 
First of all they berated me and the other workers for running a lousy club – “you can’t handle it” – and then they turned on the other gang and ran their own kangaroo court.

After the slagging off came the verdict. “Stay away,” said the older gang leader, 
“Stay away for a year from now. 
You’re barred and if you roll up you’re nicked!” 

That was authority speaking, and the workers’ meeting that eventually took place that evening affirmed that decision. 
The younger gang were barred from the club for a year, the first time that a long-term suspension had been imposed. 
It wasn’t left like that, but we decided to work with the gang outside the club. 
Not reject them but, with love and commitment, intensify our youth work with them.

Two of our team members were chosen to head up the group work with me in support. 
One of our volunteer youth workers was in his late twenties, a working-class Londoner who came to us from a drug rehabilitation centre and a natural for making warm contact with the kids. 
Another worker, a total contrast from a middle-class background and was studying to be a doctor. Both had a keen sense of humour, resilience under pressure and lots of enthusiasm. 

So we commenced a Group work programme for this gang and several others including girl gangs.
Each had a maximum of eight in their group and two volunteer group workers, the same workers only. 
The same youth members only..
They met only in the mini-bus and/or the group room separate from the Youth Club.

The objectives were designed to give each group a place and a sense of security including conditions to form closer and developmental relationships. A sense of belonging was developed in each group because there was a climate of trust and participation.

The story rolls on and has much more details in my books.
But the group work method was a major break through. Negative turned into positives. 
I became a group worker.
I believe in groups.
I belong to a group.
I yearn to belong.
I believe that for you too - and all humankind …………


Friday, February 26, 2021

Inner City Youth Work

The strategy is to programme in taking a group of teens outside their comfort zones. EXPERIENTIAL 
This then becomes a leveller where we all need each other. 
This one - years later I get an email & a reflection regarding a visit to a remote ex farmhouse. A dry farm. The water table was no longer +
No electricity 
No water on tap. 
Outside civilisation. 
No street lights. 
Total blackness at night. 

So years later I receive a reflection::

I asked a question to Rob::
What experience you had re Mayflower is the one you remember most?
This would take a 600 page book to honestly answer, in short Profound life changing a positive life experience that would go on to effect the rest of my life, my faith my family .....
My world.

I remember all of it, with Cristal clear vision, and I owe the Mayflower, you and all the staff.
More than you could ever know.
If you were to force me to pick a memory this would be it ............ 

I was feeling very down my father had just had to have an eye removed due to cancer (he went on to make a full recovery) and 
.... my parents marriage wasn’t going to last to much longer, 
I was 14 angry rebellious and scared.
And to add to this I had to go to club tonight and tell you that I couldn’t go on the trip to Wales as my parents couldn’t afford it. 
You on hearing this was your normal reassuring 
Self, and boomed don’t worry Jesus loves ya,
2 days later a Mayflower staff member went to my house and told my Mum my trip had been payed for anonymously. ( I never found out who)

On that trip we’re the usual suspects (Ren Slug Tallman two of the Neale brothers etc)
One night I was up alone down stairs unable to sleep, and all the staff had to be on their toes as the lads kept raiding the tuck shop.
As a city boy, I had never been anywhere so dark and so quiet, you and some of the staff
Had been outside on some kind of walking ramble in the dark as you came back I feel that you became aware
Of how scared I was, although I would never admit cause I was a Sniper.
You said "look out the window Rob look at all them stars Rob you're never really alone."

I don’t know if you remember it Pip but those few word were so reassuring I’ve never forgotten.


Good afternoon Pip,

You have ......

Thursday, February 25, 2021



Signs of Emotional Unavailability in a Person::

1. They avoid the “big” or “deep” stuff.
Diving down into the world of emotion and feelings makes them uncomfortable. They’ll be happy to listen to their partner’s emotional “stuff” but only up to a point. When the subject matter gets too heavy they’ll change the subject. And talk of formal commitment may rattle them or even push them away.

2. They have intimacy in the same basket with something else.
A person with trust issues often connects intimacy with high drama or conflict or inevitable loss/rejection — things that have happened in their past. Even when willing, they’re not free to love for love’s own sake because it means something uncomfortable for them.

3. They are naturally distrustful.
When a person’s been hurt or suffered significant loss, they struggle to enter relationships — even close friendships — with an open heart. That’s because they’re scared it’ll happen again and they can’t bear that sort of pain.

4. They can’t express their feelings 

Emotionally unavailable people often don’t have a language for expressing their feelings. It may be that they never learnt to match words with their feelings or had sound emotional expression modelled to them. It’s not that they don’t have feelings. They just don’t know how to release them appropriately.

5. They can cut people out of their life easily and often without reason.
Relationships — including friendships and family ties — can be terminated suddenly and without explanation. This is very hurtful, and confusing, if you’re on the end of it. These acts may have a toxic agenda. But they also just think it’s easier to end a relationship, than wade through an explanation of why.

6. They’re most comfortable with people outside their day-to-day orbit.
Emotionally unavailable people will often choose relationships they can keep at arm’s length. Affairs, long distance relationships, cultural divides: People who are not free to commit to them. It’s less stressful to keep some space between them and they don’t have the pressure of moving the relationship forward.

7. They respond to others’ feelings rather than offering their own.
They’ll often find it easy to show a lot of interest in you, especially at the beginning of a relationship because asking questions is non-threatening. It can be seductive because it makes you feel fascinating but it also keeps you away from their feelings, which is the whole point.
Is it over?

Not my work or wording

BUT I am an Emotion Detective

and want to learn from EVERYTHING



Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Reflecting on Lockdown life at Wilson Mansions ............

 Here I am.

Lockdown like you are.

Alongside that I am working daily at living with cancer. The meds - increasingly needing to be more powerful, sleep & sleepless plus fatigue which is only one of a few side effects.

Otherwise life goes on. A walk a day and built in shopping (I have never been in a shop for a year other than the pharmacy  -   '1 in 1 out' shop!) The walking plan is waiting for spring and warmer weather to enable more exercise.

Moreso is the chance/hope of seeing family together especially our two grandaughters (5 and 10) - last time they did a drive by - I cried ......... some feelings can't be articulated enough.

5am out of bed this morning to start the 8 a day pain killer tablets. Normal life now - to time table life around the meds schedule. I drink loads and loads of water. I don't touch alcohol at all now. I used to have a glass of red if we were out for a meal - but never done either for a pandemic year!

Other aspects of life rolled on. No gigs which I miss madly - the preparation, working with teams of teachers, therapists, youth-workers, student teachers, and various groupings internationally - all experiential learning - I love it. Feeds me!!

Close behind the above number one is my meeting 121 in my Central London 'Cafe-shop home' (now disappeared - off the map via covid damage)

I write every day. I promote the Blob Tree resources online & reflect on life via my BLOG.

Then there is my ever so bursting email inbox .......... AND in the last couple of days I have had two surprising cold contact' out of the blue. 

1:: someone interested in tapping my crime and gangs experiences. Right up my street as I have had to work and live through such experiences -  you will know about this if you have read my books 'Gutter Feelings' 'Backstreets of Heaven' and others.

2:: A young lad who I lived/worked with who is now in his 60's - never heard from him since 1967 = 54 years.

I can't tell you more - respecting confidentiality. 

More tomorrow and ever after ........


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

LOVE:: Be passionate with it / learning LOVE is non-stop =Love steps outside our comfort zone


YOUTH WORK is being on the same level - valuing the human - seeing beyond behaviour BEYOND BEYOND .......


Let me break this down:
1. If you have to demand respect, it’s not respect.
2. If you see our youth as Sacred, what’s there not to respect?
3. Correcting unacceptable behavior is effectively done with respect.
4. Recognizing the pain behind the behavior is only seen with eyes of love and respect.
5. If it’s not unconditional love and respect, then it’s not love and respect.
6. If love and respect are not the foundation of the work with our youth, it’s not youth work.
7. Put that ego away before you hurt someone.

Our character is disclosed .....

Monday, February 22, 2021

One Day .................. children will ask ................

 One day..... 

youngsters will learn words 
they will not understand. 

Children from India will ask: 
What is hunger? 

Children from Alabama will ask: 
What is racial segregation? 

Children from Hiroshima will ask: 
What is the atomic bomb? 

Children in schools will ask: • 
What is war? 

You will answer them. 
You will tell them 

Those words are not used anymore, 
Like crucifixions, galleys or slavery 

Words no longer meaningful. 
That is why they have been removed from dictionaries. 

Martin Luther King, preacher, civil rights activist