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  • Writer's pictureDavid Whewell

Let's Talk Detached.....

Photo by Akemia Minnott

Beth Zeen’s question to the field on the 'In Defence of Youth Work' FaceBook page

Let's talk detached/outreach. I have some questions.

1. Uniform or not?

2. What resource would you take to engage young people on the street?

An amazing array of responses from the field! Here are some of them!

Rio Odeku

1. We don’t wear uniforms just name badges. We like to be in clothes that reflect our own personality as we find a lot of relatable traits with young people can easily be identified. However i have no argument against uniforms, i can see the benefits and agree that in some circumstances they work well.

2. 2. With Covid its a bit more restrictive because you are passing things to them, i would say things like small hand sanitizer bottles for them to keep or face masks if they are in separate packaging, pre- Covid in the summer small bottles of water and in the winter hot chocolate, small Haribo sweet packets and phone charger wires were two things that was always welcome and they are very cheap.

Becka Newall

1. We wore purple hi-vis & id badges, so everyone, not just YP, knew who we were & why we were out, & so we didn't get run over in the dark. None of the YP seemed to care what we were wearing once they'd met us.

2. And we had lots of different stuff, conversation cubes, lollies & our sexual health bag we could do our condom scheme through. We were just about to trial a mental health bag when our project

Moomin Tash

1. We have our ID badges branded t shirts hoodie and jackets we quite often take sweets or pre lockdown we were giving out glow sticks which they loved

Deby Cameron

1. We have t shirts, hoodies, rucksacks just with the logo on,. To be honest we pick and chose when and where we wear it. Sometimes just not appropriate.

2. Rucksack always contains

First aid kit



Activity cards (debate stuff)

Back of my car is a different story.....

Jo Wilson

1. We wear our uniforms, but in this weather, they are under our coats, id badge

2. Catch phrase card game, Pack of big cards, Music boom box and more items when covid is not about when we can play more games and activities

Akemia Minott

1. We have a uniform, as our team is very young and from the community. This works well for us though and we get asked for hoodies all the time. Every few months we get new ones and give them out, so our ‘brand’ is now very recognisable.

2. We are the resource, so don’t really carry an ‘activities bag’ although we have first aid kits etc in the car.

Jeff Jethro Platts

1. Perhaps look at the uniform thing as branded clothing? We get to look at a catalogue, pick our own jackets / hoodies etc, then they're branded with our logo.

2. Carrying litter picking equipment has proven to be a good ice breaker for us at times. Led to lots of engagement with young people and the wider community.

Maggie Newman

1. When I worked on a detached project we had hoodies and T-shirt’s designed by young people to wear

2. Rucksack with a ball /pack of cards / conversation starter cards / leaflets/ a pens paper

Mike Gower

1. We have hoodies and polo shirts plus ID badges.

2. We give out lollipops at the moment. But we have given out rubic snakes, wristbands, hot chocolate.

Mike Collyer

1. Not a uniform as such but we provide warm coats for winter and even footwear if staff want them. We use ID badges but nothing on coats that say who we are. Before working in a new community, we introduce ourselves to locals whether shops, police, community groups which gives us a chance to explain what we do and when we do it.

2. In today's climate we have found young people just wanna talk, especiially around their future. That is a project in itself😁

Evans LD

1. I used to choose hoodie and waterproof clothing with our logo on and not in colours that resembled emergency services, obviously ID badges worn too.

2. Rucksacks with pocket folders in with awareness games on different subjects and prompts for discussion. And obviously a risk assessment.

Shaz Biggin

1. No uniform for us.

2. Hot chocolate biscuits in winter . I was known as the condom lady. Also made the local paper due to being the condom lady lol. We have a pack of cards, tennis balls, hand puzzles, bottles of water in summer and daft things to do. Water pistols all sorts of rubbish in my pockets. If I can scrounge some footballs then leave with group. First aid kit, torches, Silly sun glasses. I have even taken the dog to start a conversation but that was years ago.and owt that doesn't fit in the bag is in the boot of the car .

Deborah Pitt

1. No uniform for us although we do all have the same coats because the project purchased

them from budget.

2. food we always find is good engagement tool, especially if the budget will stretch to a chippy tea 😂😂 anything that can be used outdoors to be honest if it fits in a kit bag it’s good for detached 🤘🏻🤘🏻

Donna Chando

1. We wear a uniform, black hoodies with logo on and red jackets, young people know its us it's recognisable and if they don't know the worker they know the clothes.

2. Resources: sexual health, torch, useful numbers and websites etc. Wifi box and blue tooth speaker. Sports equipment in car boot, mountain bikes.Best and most used resource conversation

Andy Haller

1. Very valid question Beth, we’re establishing a new detached service in Shropshire, in my previous youth worker roles ( it was over 10 years ago) id never think of such a thought - uniforms or not! hoodies, coats not even visible I D badges!

2. Must say The comments to your question are really valuable food for thought in our future conversations, especially around the possible resources we may require that will be effective supporting YP on a street setting! Thanks Andy

Beth Zeen response to Andy Haller

Good luck with it. I've come up with some interesting ideas following on from this. Once it's covid safe and after a thorough risk assessment, I'm going to hang out at our skate park in visable clothing with a fold out table giving out hot chocolate or similar and engaging in debate (like the change my mind on this issue type thing, I think vaccines would be a good starting point) It's got to be better than walking round the same beat in the dark and rain and not seeing a soul.

Rachel Wright

1. We wear a uniform not every nite, we always have our ID Badges on use

2. we also got some bum bags to keep condoms, first aid in there, we have just got a Polaroid

Camera for the young people to take photos and keep them, hot Chocolate, soups, Fidget toys, hand warmers, used to use glow sticks, lolly’s. Xx

Miriam Turner

1. Appropriate clothing for the weather. Hoodies are great but logos and wording get covered over when it rains or gets cold. In my old project in London we had t shirts for events rather than street work. In Shropshire hoodies with detached youth worker on the back, in some other projects waterproof jackets.

2. I liked that someone said they were the resource – I always said that too but also needed things to back me up. ID cards and Information cards that said who we were, leaflets for signposting, phone and numbers of agencies, sunscreen, water and always the bag of Haribos individually wrapped sweets/chews. First Aid kit, notebook, pens, discussion cards. And sometimes hot chocolate.

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