This week I was disproportionately cross when I saw a friend diss young people on twitter for being loud on the bus. I get even more cross with twitter spats so I text him privately to express my dismay that he was being such a stereotypical idiot about young people.
He doesn't work in the youth sector, has no professional interest and is quite direct. I was told in no uncertain terms to take my liberal views elsewhere, he had had enough. Both laughing at his juvenile insult and exasperated at his lack of self awareness, I decided to tap into the dad in him - 'imagine you heard somebody say that about your boys'. They are great lads, but they, like most of us are sometimes loud .
And so we had a sensible conversation, he conceded and deleted his 'all young people are awful' tweet. If only culture change was that easy. I have the privilege of being in an organisation that trusts young people, believes in them and wants to support them on their journey through adolescence and into adulthood. One of my new years resolutions was to spend more time seeing Brook's work in action this year, and i have got off to a good start.
Over the last few weeks I have been shadowing some of our teams across the country. The young people I have been in consultations with are actively taking responsibility for their choices and their health, they are moral agents working things out for themselves, sometimes they (like adults) get it wrong and sometimes they get hurt by others. Every single one of them deserves the trust and support of adults. It is a privilege to be on reception, in a classroom or in the consultation room watching a young person get the help they need and be put at ease by staff who respect and treasure them.
Our comments book generally tell the story of a funny attitude towards young people in wider society. They praise the service because; 'they were nice to me', 'i didn't feel judged', 'they listened', 'they answered my questions', 'they made me feel comfortable'. Brook staff are technically brilliant at what they do - with different expertise in spades across the different professions.
But the thing that unites them all is they trust young people and value their developing sexuality. Lots of youth organisations Brook works closely with share that trust and belief in young people. Our job as a sector is to create a societal culture that values young people, so they can flourish. All of us across generations will get the benefit of their energy, their humour and their ambition to change the world. It's a win win.
I asked my friend, lets call him Paul (not his real name, he consented to me telling the story as long as I didn't name him), to take a couple of minutes to remember what it felt like to be young. Try it, smile to yourself and then commit or recommit to encourage others to believe in and trust young people so we can truly help them fly.
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