Where were you at 17?
17. Homeless. Jobless. Problems seem to follow Mark. His family helpless intimidated by his mood swings - his aggression, bitterness, rancour, resentment - had to make him homeless. For the protection of his family he now lives in a hostel.
We are being briefed as to how the afternoon session of "Urban Escape" is going to pan out when we hear the shouting and a smash. Knowing the young people are outside we investigate. Mark is going off on one. Pent up anger and feelings is being heaved up over his younger brothers. Young waiting onlookers look on shocked. Scared.
Mark looks at Roz (our youth worker) "can I talk?" He comes in and ‘caged like’ prowls around the youth club he knows so well. Any coherency is robbed by his anger. We try to listen by prowling after him. A ‘no one understands’ flurry of hands and expletives seems to be the end. He walks to the door and just before he goes back onto the street. Roz asks him if he wants a cup of tea. I go with him, sit with him, hear his feelings.
As he calms down, sips his tea I hear his pain. His hurt. I hear his regrets, misgivings. I hear his fear, anxiety. His perceived lack of justice, his brokeness. I listen to this young person’s lack of hope and we talk. We’ll talk again.
Youth work isn’t always programmed – but there is something to be said for all the dedicated hard work that the variety of youth workers have put into creating an environment where Mark can feel he can come – and be. Mark gets up to leave, he’s calm now, balanced "Can I come and talk to you guys…?"… "Mark there’s normally someone around – come and talk…"
Yesterday I bump into his mother. "I hear you had Mark up with you?" I hear her pain. Her hurt. I hear her regrets, misgivings. I hear her fear, anxiety. Her perceived lack of justice, her brokeness. I listen to this mothers lack of hope and we talk. We’ll talk again.
I dream of reconciliation ...