1.3.1 The Ally
Description: The image we have of an ally is that of a dependable if sometimes critical friend, who likes us and who is committed to hanging in there with us through thick and thin. This can be incredibly supportive to young people as they make difficult transitions into adulthood, particularly where consistent parental support is not available.
Issues: Young people need support and approval. Some get constant messages from other adults in their lives – parents, teachers, neighbours –that they are bad, stupid and unlovable. Sometimes they only get any attention when they behave in this way – and so they persist. Finding some aspect of them that we can genuinely like can stop or even reverse this potentially downward spiral.
To help us do this, it may be useful to separate liking them from liking their behaviour. However, faced with behaviour we consider to be appalling, unacceptable or thoughtless, it is not easy to see someone as fundamentally good, intelligent and capable. This is when our understanding of young people can help bring a different perspective to our work.
Unlike a teacher, a worker in a youth-offending team, a social worker, or education welfare worker, many of those working with young people view their work as largely on the young people's terms. Young people are not required to see a youth worker; they do so of their own volition. This is a key factor in being able to play the role of an ‘ally’. However, this does not mean that boundaries do not need to be set. Being an ally does not protect you from being in a situation where there is a conflict of interest or where you are unsure about how best to act in the best interests of the young person. In the clips of Cowbridge youth centre you will see Guy offering support to the young people at the club, but also being sensitive to the boundaries of his involvement.
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Transcript: Cowbridge clip 1
7.05pm Map reading session for Duke of Edinburgh Award Group
7.55pm Sexual health education session for 14-17 year old girls