Friday, September 25, 2015

Group Work - Hostel - Teenagers - late night - food and Blob Tree Materials

So many people.
Beautiful people.
Caring people. Warm.

It is strange for me as a 18 years Community Leader 
veteran of one YMCA community – 
as I step into another YMCA without Leadership responsibilities. 
Strange to be entering into an existing community 
and stepping onto the moving train of life intertwined and relationships.

"people get ready there's a train a comin' "
sing the Blind Boys of Alabama.
It is strange for me in a new community 
but also fantastic as I practice the strategy of 
listening, learning, lingering.

So I meet new people both staff and residents. 
Also children who were also part of the YMCA mission 
in terms of development experiences. 
Live music ended my first day, in the bar and talking in a climate of trust 
with humans with special needs, 
like me, 
who feel secure in that wondrous environment.


So I launched myself into a new world 
but now not with a ‘community leader’ hat on. 
I was back on the front line as a Youth Worker – 
Group Worker – Informal Educator …… 
or a better word is:- 

I started a new style of work. 
Each module of work in context 
with the my several new venues. 
New and different humans. 
New and different starting places

A note slipping under the bedroom doors in this 100+ bed Hostel ……
I post the notes so that each individual receives and reads when alone. 
Better than all receiving their note at the reception area 
and immediately sparking off some wise cracks with others.

This is a note pushed under every door of a Special Needs Hostel:-

Hope from now on I will be running a little group at 
10a.m. and 9.30pm.
The idea is for us, as many who can make it, 
to come and hang out together and discuss things. 
I think we benefit much when we talk together, 
especially when we listen as well as talk.

It is right that God gave us two ears and one mouth 
and that tells us something about communication. 
So we will have an hour or so with each other 
just chilling and chatting. 
I have feelings, passions and opinions. 
I don't have an opinion about everything 
so your view can influence mine.

I am a broken offering to life.

My life I carry around experiences which have damaged. 
At the same time they, the same hurts, are the things 
which have made me grow and develop. 
It is only when we talk together 
that we find out about what is going on inside.

See you soon eh?

Pip Wilson BHP

What do I do with groups of strangers who drift in to meet a stranger – and strangers who are also hostel residents too
Here is something I do …. 
a snapshot noted in detail when it was all over.

A group gathered around a pile of sandwiches.
After the consumption washed down with mugs of tea - 
always quick when breakfast has been missed - 
I kicked the group off from the informal chat 
into a leader led process which they can easily get used to.

I handed out a paper which said:-
‘a child from birth to age five gets 478 negative messages a day.’
"Stop that."
"You little ..........!"

The paper had a list.
I spent very little time with that but moved on quickly to -
I asked everyone if they saw their glass half empty or half full.
I went around the group and everyone commented. 
All gave sincere reflection to the question 
and a large percentage of the eleven present spoke in the negative.

Introducing the session very informally - 
I suggested we look at the issue of 'positives and negatives'.
The next step was a try with something never attempted with this community before.
Everyone was given a slip and asked to write their own name on it 
and into the hat it went. 
Mine too.

The draw resulted in all having a name 
which was not their own. 
My plea then was for each to say something positive 
about that person. 
Even if they had never met before – 
this was a reality for most of us.

It was fantastic. 
Everyone did it. 
Some struggled and had to be helped/encouraged 
by the group members. 
The brother to his sister 
was the slowest response. 
A real struggle.

Also a 'first time' member of the group 
with a total strangers name in his hand. 
He did it. 
It was an affirmation communicated well - 
about her clothing.

He did it.
I felt good to see and hear the words stumble out.

Then I moved in with some other questions;
1 Do you remember positives or negatives mostly from you life experiences?
2 Do you normally speak mostly positive or negative?
3 Do you think positive or negative?
4 What are the feelings when you get a positive or negative?
They did it.
We did it!

Now we are talking about humans in the group who have met some pretty harsh experiences of;
- being rejected as a child
- seeing a friend stabbed to death
- abuse
- mental health issues
- alcoholism
- drug misuse
- and multiple issues for some.

Not only did they say that the negatives in their lives have an impact now, 
they said what they were - owned them 
and not pretending and hiding behind a mask.

Faces stilled.
(You know, in your own experience, 
how sometimes our skin becomes drawn and passive. 
It is because the interior human is being disturbed. 
In this case also comforted at the same time.

Disturbed through the recall of life experiences.

Comforted by the support of the group - 
the realisation that they are not alone - 
and the first time facing of reality as it was, 
and maybe still is.
It was fantastic and powerful.

The session moved to close with 
a reaffirming of the objective which had been floated at the start.
1 Thinking and practising being positive.
2 Considering our reality in our daily lives. What do we do by habit?
3 Choosing to go down the positive route - a strategy for a new life.

I floated, lastly - these four life positions - soul positions - psychological positions;
1 I am not ok ................ you are not ok
2 I am not ok ................ you are ok
3 I am ok ...................... you are not ok
4 I'm ok ........................ you're ok

..... and they said which they were .....
because they had become aware of themselves …….
......... and to tell it .....
'how they were'
was important .

Here is a little more detail of these life positions, 
attitudes towards self and another.
I am not ok ...... you are not ok
I am not are ok
I am are not ok
I am are ok

1 The first is not feeling good about self or others
2 The second is not feeling good about self, or good about valuing self
and , at the same time disliking others for the 'smart' we see and
the qualities we see in them.
3 The third is feeling that I have something special and the others
are less, = selfishness
4 The fourth is .......I am a beautiful human person (bhp),
you are bhp, all different, 
all unique, ......ONE

...... do you remember as a child …… 
or have seen it happen in a crowded superstore 
or shopping centre?

A small child reaches out for the big person hand and it is not there ….
.... panic …
.. a fear of being lost forever …
.. alone …
.. no hand - 
no security - 
panic ........

Disorder I guess - means little order, 
in-balance due to a loss of certainty, 
a loss of security. 
We all have small snatches of disorder 
when we step off the gym jogger 
and the floor does not move - 
or we step out of a car after a long drive 
and find the scenery is not moving at 
80 mph any more.

Some people suffer from a disorder 
which is a disability or an illness.
The mind of a child must be stretched 
when the big person hand is not there ....

When I have to design and run a session with certain objectives - 
it usually includes a time of fun or interaction which I call a starter.

One method I use amongst other things is non threatening touch. 
A beautiful way is to have all present to hold out to another a unique finger tip - 
unique finger print pressed against another. 
Great to see seven thousand people doing this 
with both hands outstretched at the
Greenbelt Festival 
YMCA European Prague Festival - and more. 
in a small group. 
The largest ever 'group' was thirty thousand. 
A network of human touch ......

Something wondrous is to reach out a hand 
in the dark and know that God 
the big person in our life is waiting 
with arm outstretched and hand open ready ….