Youth work in the silly season

Surviving is key to the silly season.

December One. The beginning of the silly season. The first day of the run to the end of the year. ‘Every year I dread this time.¬†Yeah there is the awesome Christmas parties and friends and the end of the year. The flip side however is that it is also really busy. It is also the time of year that really hits home for a lot of our clientele just how much their lives are not the same as others. Their short on cash, their family doesn’t look like someone else’s, their future doesn’t look like they thought it would and everything looks bleak. During this time of year many of the young people I had worked with came to crisis.

silly seasonThe dichotomy between the joyous and the pain of the silly season which we as youth workers are stuck between is mind-blowing. It is often this time of year that we see a rise in family violence, crime and suicide. It is all of this and more which makes our days busy. We find that from clock on to clock off we are aware of the suffering of our young people. It is also this time of year that many youth workers are also struggling. As our young people suffer so do we. It is vicarious trauma.

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So in the beginning of this silly season I ask you to consider two things. First, remember that this time for your clients may be one of the hardest. They may need extra support from you during this time just to deal with the fact that the silly season brings forward a lot of raw emotions. Second, I ask you to think about how you and your colleagues are coping. What are you doing to look after your self care? How are you looking out for each other? Perhaps only a couple of drinks at the Christmas party this year!

If we can look out for ourselves and look out for our young people just a little more emphatically over the coming month then perhaps we can limit the effects of trauma and vicarious trauma which comes during the festive season.

Lets look out for each other!

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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