Wednesday, March 11, 2020

GROUP WORK with teenage gang girls - a story

Thinking about GROUP WORK 
with teenage gang girls.
This group of young humans who I have worked with. 

Cold contact. 
Impact needed quickly. 
Or they will face tough times in coming weeks.

I describe::

Behaviour issues
assaults on other girls.

No purpose
No hope
At risk
Seek excitement
No responsibilities
No accountabilities
Beautiful humans.

I need to design a session with them
It is sometimes called::
Informal Education
It is more than that ...........
It is Youth-Work.

Some years ago there was a group of teenage young women 
who terrorised others in the community. 
Real intimidating, oppressive and aggressive. 
They were a gang really. 
Beautifully dressed and without boundaries...........
Then …………..
A couple of women youth-workers & myself
encouraged them to come out in a mini-bus. 
We had to sell the adventure - 
it sounded so exciting - so they came.

We travelled from the inner-city 
well into the countryside in the evening darkness. 
We left the urban inner-city scene behind as we had some fun singing in the bus.
We ended up at Fellowship Afloat. 

It was, and still is, a boating activity centre with a converted Light Ship as their base.
Suddenly the young women became out of their depth. 
They entered a place called uncomfortable where growth resides!
There was an immediate impact - 
their high heeled shoes trouble walking down the gravel path towards the Light Ship. 

It was pitch dark. 
Our inner-city environment never dark as the street lights stay on all night.
We only one torch to show the way. 
Water lapped each side of the footpath leading out to sea.
Walking into darkness from darkness. 
They started to cling to me and the other workers like their lives depended on us.

Eventually the lights of a motor launch appeared ahead 
and we clambered aboard and set sail - motoring 
into the darkness ........ blackness ….

There was much more clinging to the workers.
I was nervous too.

Later ……..
We returned to the Mother Ship - 
sipping sweet hot tea - 
experiencing fellowship aboard.

On the way back in the mini-bus there was an incredible sense of relief and achievement. 
And from the girls too!
We talked and talked all the way back. 

I remember some details of those interactions.
I asked a question to everyone, as I often do.

"Chose an animal for each one of us in the bus - what animal are you?
Which human has the characteristics of what animal - and say why?”

I don't remember the details other than it was a most wondrous experience of fun /openness/ listening.
I said I was a 'Cart-Horse'.
They told me that I was a 'sheep dog' - 
"loyal - 
working hard - 
AND always running around organising getting people together & yapping …"

I don't remember us having any great hassle with the girls after this adventure. 
I guess we still had some. 
But relationships were great and we started a group for them which was once a week.
So they had a 'closed group' forever 
Just for them
+ plus the regular Youth Club / programmes. 
Same two female workers - same group of girls  = 
Boundary Management/security/safe space.
Loads of decision making and participation.

Get out of our comfort zones - the girls & staff too.
Create a totally new experience.
Work at the belonging & becoming.
Use the mini-bus as a group room.
Ask questions & start with your own revelation/vulnerability.