For the past year we have been promoting work among young women in an attempt to redress the imbalance between the genders often found in youth work.
A recent study of young people and youth provision in Islington identified that the proportion of young men accessing youth provision was far greater than the number of young women. That is because youth provision has traditionally been orientated around the needs of young men.
Girls are the worlds most squandered gift. They are precious human beings with enormous potential, but across the world, they are generally the last to have their basic needs met and the fist to have their basic rights denied. – World visions Girls child report, 2001.
Whilst attending the UYWI conference a couple of months ago I had the privilege of being introduced to Ginny Olson. Ginny is currently the co-director of the Center for Youth Ministry Studies
and assistant professor of youth ministry at North Park University and
Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois.
Our adolescent girls aren’t looking for tourists – adults who are only interested in seeing the beautiful spots, taking a few pictures, and then leaving after a short while to go back to their comfortable lives. Rather they are looking for pilgrims who will wade into the muddy adventurous mess of a journey of adolescence with them. Pilgrims who aren’t looking for the comfortable, easy path but are willing to take the hard road of understanding the issues that adolescent girls face, issues that are unprecedented in their magnitude. – Teenage Girls, Ginny Olson
Whist at the UYWI conference I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Acosta who is the founder of the Institute. He spoke of his passion for specifically investing in youth workers who were not part of the dominant culture 'i.e. not white and middle class'. The diversity of conference delegates was something that I'd never experienced at a Christian conference and was a significant factor for me - A demonstration of unified urban diversity.
Larry also spoke of the importance of investing in 'bi-vocational' youth workers. We call them volunteers in the UK. I'm not sure this term will catch on at my project but I'm keen to explore similarly affirming terminology.
To describe someones role simply by reference to their status with regard to financial renumeration seems to miss the point. Our church used to have an NSM - a Non Stipendiary Minister, the same person is now described as a 'Self Supporting Minister'. It seems to me that the CofE haven't got is right yet (or come anywhere close) when referring to priests who aren't paid to be priests.
I'm keen to try and do better and seek to empower the bi-voactional members of our team here at Urban Hope in Islington.
By far the most popular image i've ever produced is this one of Mary. It has been used around the world in many different contexts. the invitation is still there for you to use it for free - please just tell me where and when you are going to use it. Advance worship have written an interesting piece on it giving various ideas for using it.
Following the success of the Manchester Passion BBC3 are doing the Liverpool Nativity. it looks brilliant. I love this sort of thing - contextualising ancient narrative in contemporary society. I'm in the middle of working with Dennis Morris producing some very exciting images contextualising the Easter narrative with inner-city young people - more on that in good time.
I was privileged to be invited to a conference held last week by Dean Pusey on behalf of CMEAC.
This youth work conference considered how the legacies of slavery in all its forms are still impacting young people of African and Caribbean heritage today.
Much of the conference focused on the telling of the story. I was devastated as I heard story after story of what it is like to grow up as a person of colour in Britain. Experiences infrastructural racism, low self esteem and lack of opportunity to contribute to institutional structures, including the church.
Since the conference I’ve been trying to live with the story which has been tough, but obviously not even close to how tough it would be if it were my story.