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  • David Whewell

I started thinking this blog was going to be about how as manager you can audit detached work but it quickly became about me thinking and reflecting on a snapshot of one afternoon on the high street.

There are high streets across the UK that have similar problems to where I work (a London borough) but also where detached workers can have fantastic conversations and build relationships with young people and other community members.

In the last week of the summer holiday and the first week of the new school year we run a campaign on our high street supporting young people with the transition to secondary school and being safe in our borough. It’s a partnership project with other support services and community organisations and has been running for a few years very successfully.

It was an afternoon with a good atmosphere on the high street and lots of action and interactions; this was the start of my original auditing process. But it ends here, maybe I’ll come back to that in a future blog.

My team were around and about the high street with partners, there were stalls and two youth vehicles. It was hot and there were lots of people shopping and generally ‘being’ in their community and using their high street.

Two men in their 30’s immediately in front of me squared up to each other, one ran off after a lot of shouting to join his girlfriend and baby. The second man started to gather up his bags from the ground when a security guard and I noticed blood was running down his T-shirt.

We moved in to talk to him and performed first aid until the police and paramedics arrived.

The second man had been stabbed twice in his neck and head but was fortunately ok and able to walk into the ambulance after a lot of persuading and using our first aid kits. He did not corporate with police and I don’t know if the first man was arrested or not (I suspect not).

I don’t get out on sessions as much as I’d like and I realised how much I miss interacting with the team, young people and the communities we work with but I definitely didn’t enjoy doing first aid in a public place, being filmed by strangers, having to think about protecting colleagues and the public or having difficult conversations with the police.

I am not coming to a conclusion about the events that took place that afternoon, rather I have found myself reflecting on a number of key questions personally and with our team:

Is there a link between the summer holidays and crime?

How do you react to emergency situations on the streets?

How prepared can you be for something like this?

Why do young people get all the negative press about street crime?

Do you forget your detached skills when you don’t do face to face sessions every week?

In this interview Graeme Tiffany explains what Detached Youth Work is. Graeme looks at the history, the risks this work currently faces, as well as benefits of this approach. He challenges us to think about voluntary association in relationships between young people and service providers (of all types). Graeme Tiffany is the vice-chair of the Federation for Detached Youth Work. To learn more about Graeme’s work and see a list of his publication visit http://www.graemetiffany.co.uk.

The sound in this podcast is difficult at points. I hope you will listen through these moments; what Graeme has to say is certainly worth it.