The other day on a detached session, I found myself parked in a car chatting out through the window to some of the young people parked alongside us. The conversation was fine but stilted by the rain and consequently the windows were only half open. After the initial hellos and catch up the conversation stalled, and my colleague suggested we move on. It felt right to stay and just chill, which in end opened a conversation with one the young people we have found hardest to reach opening up and discussing volunteering with us. This young person would barely acknowledge us for the first 18 months we met, but slowly through the process of being around regularly he warmed to us, opening up, all leading to this conversation about possible volunteering.
The connection between regular faithful contact and building the platform for solid relationships cannot be underestimated. Equally this presence in a place itself will not bring the walls to dust between us and those young people who have been consistently let down by adults and systems so are wary of engagement. It will require working at the relationship, deliberately preserving (appropriately) with the young person who wont give you the time of day. (People + Place) x Relationship = Space. Yes, we needed to be in the right place, with the right people, but the relationship enabled the space to be created for a young person, excluded from school, shunned by much of the town and isolated from many traditional avenues of support, to offer his gift of service and volunteering, on a rainy detached evening.