Thursday, May 14, 2020

Meat Cleaver v a RELATIONSHIP. The best of youthwork is the latter.

I have faced a many incidents 
where a weapon has been used.

Once a man faced me up in an angry mood.
I knew him - he lived in our hostel.
He was a member - a troubled soul.
He wanted to do battle with me 
He was swinging a heavy hammer.

Instinctively I used his name and
half turned my body and said 
waving my hand as I turned my back
"come on over here -
let's sit down and talk about it."

I walked over a few yards and sat down and waited for him.
He hesitated -  he was angry.
Then he came over to me & eventually sat down with me.
We put our heads together in more of a quiet dialogue.

Sitting down reduces any confrontation.
As I sat I was not standing legs apart 
in a threatening pose - facing him off.
I spoke quietly
and the 'mirror affect' fell into place.
He followed my body language 
sitting - leaning forward head down
elbows on knees
no threading eye contact.
We spent some time together as he cooled & 
his feelings calmed.

Another occasion I was in our community lounge area 
chatting to members when
a wildly angry unknown much older young man 
came running in to the community which I was leader - 
and he was swinging a Meat Cleaver?

He proceeded to chase a young member
around the pool table swinging the cleaver
shouting and screaming ... 

I stood between them - or more like 
darted between them as they circled the pool table
as he kept the meat cleaver swinging.

It was tense.
but soon the member was able to remove himself
and the raging man was left without a target.
Fortunately one of our older young men,
who had been in the army, 
managed to convince the assailant to hand over the weapon.
It passed through a few hand before was parked
on my desk in my office.

The police came and removed the weapon.
The assailant had left the building and was never seen again.

Troubled souls can be full of
anger/unmanaged feelings.
Unthinking but full of rage/feelings.
We can learn to see through behaviour - 
even the worst of behaviour -
we can, sometimes, get through to the
hurting person - but it needs to be in a 
starting place = a relationship.

Youth Work, at it's best, 
is always about relationships first.

Making contact.
Building a helping relationship -
two humans
equally valuable humans.