Working freelance means that I have been fortunate enough to be involved with many diverse groups over the years. Some groups have behavioral issues and need discipline and support; some are a little lost at sea and in need of direction; some are high flyers needing greater challenges, and some, like the MOSTYN youth group, are in a class of their own. At once the members are gentle, yet enthusiastic, bashful, yet friendly, unobtrusive, but with big ideas. They are unlike any other group I have yet worked with.
The Cylch members have ideas. BIG ideas. And while they exude a quiet and unassuming air, they have acres of passion beneath their modesty. The challenge has been to set light to their ideas by harnessing and fanning their passion. The problem is that, quite simply, there is ‘no problem’. These are not disadvantaged young people, disaffected and directionless. These are not disinterested learners, disengaged or despondent. Remove the ‘dis’s. These young people have all the credentials required for success, so why has there been so little activity?
This group suffers from neither a lack of talent, nor a lack of direction. The root of the issue is that they lack fire. Their passion for art, for films, fashion, photography, drawing, pottery, digital media, collaborations and exhibitions is simply hidden behind politeness and humility. In order to move forward they require the touch paper to be lit.
Once engaged, as they are currently with a busy schedule of film nights, a provisional summer programme of art workshops, and sights set on coordinating their very own festival next year, they have all the skills and enthusiasm to make these things happen. But still, but still…
The undercurrent is still definitely one of needing to be driven, to be coaxed and encouraged to keep on going, recording actions and targets against a weekly ‘progress’ chart. My feeling is that their quiet demeanour has not previously been exercised in such a dynamic way. These young people are not used to being the entrepreneurs, to breaking new ground. Is this a question of personality? Of repressive influences from school or family? I’m not sure, and I haven’t yet got around to generating the right type of measurement to explore such questions (an in-joke for the scientists there). In the meantime I will happily settle with just supporting them however they need it.
Indeed it seems that what they need is structure. A framework of support and feedback, of motivation and short goals, so that small interim steps can be measured and evaluated quickly, so that success is demonstrated on a quick turnaround. It is a strange paradox to be a scientist working amidst artists, but it seems that our worlds neatly collide in terms of structure, focus, goal setting and a need for measurement and evidence.
I firmly believe that, with the right structure and support in place, these young people will really go places. They are one step from ‘big things’, albeit a tentative step.
Our goal, as support staff to the Circuit programme here at MOSTYN, is to do exactly that. Support, inspire, motivate, encourage, challenge and reward the young people for everything they do. Surely with such structure in place it will not be long before we see these big ideas bear fruit.
– Samantha McElligott, Session Support Worker