Method Concept of Mobile Youth Work

The concept of Mobile Youth Work is divided into four fields: Case Work, Street Work, Group Work and Community Work which are being weighted according to the local situation. The characteristic of Mobile Youth Work is the fact that the concepts of all four working fields are connected with each other.

Case Work

Individual Aid means that Mobile Youth Workers feel responsible for all the problems the youths they care for have and approach them in the context of an understanding of council towards pragmatic aid (cf. Thiersch 1977). This is the consequence drawn from the experience that youths will only show trust when trust is being shown towards them. Concerning solutions for their problems, youths will not choose adults according to their official responsibility but have to rely on opportunities available in their every-day-life. Thus, Mobile Youth Workers are being confronted with a variety of issues and they can only decide in a second step whether to take up contact for instance with an organisation of debt- or drug council. This is being clarified in each individual case in the course of the council process and according to the wishes of the youths. Personal council includes crisis intervention as well as long-term council if necessary. This means to look upon the various problems of youths in their individual development as a whole complex and to develop respective processes of aid. Other youths, friends, pals, the clique, the gang, are being integrated systemically into the aid process provided that they are influential and of importance for the individual person. Club- and group work offers the necessary frame for this kind of aid. This means that the acceptance of Mobile Youth Workers as group-pedagogic persons of relationship makes the contact to the individual youth possible or at least easier.
The offer of individual and group-related council relates to the following fields mainly: Family, school, training, clique, work and unemployment, legal and illegal drug consume regulation of debts, sex and the threat of AIDS. Additional is the field of dealing with authorities, doctors, hospitals, financing institutions, police and justice, prisons and victims, which is especially important for delinquently acting, ill or drug-addicted youths (cf. Local Institution 1997).

Street Work - Outreach Youth Work

Street Work as a professional kind of social work and social pedagogic has its origin in the USA. Especially in the big cities respective social-pedagogic programmes have been developed in the view of increasing youth delinquency at the end of the nineteen-twenties.
A typical target group of this approach of aid, which was established apart from the offices of youth authorities and council institutions on the street, were loose gangs (loosely structured youth street groups, cliques or youth gangs). The working place of social work was, so to speak, being transferred to the meeting points and living places of the youths. Over the years, the following terms were applied to social workers in this ambulant field of council: street corner worker, street gang worker, area youth worker, outreach youth worker, street club worker and field worker.
Since World War II street work approaches have been practised in Western European countries, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Australia as well. To name some European examples: In Great Britain the term is "Detached Youth Work" or "Outreach Youth Work" or Mobile Youth Work", in the Netherlands it is "Street Corner Work", in Switzerland "Gassenarbeit" or "Mobile Youth Work", France it is talking about "Travail de la Rue" and in Austria and Germany it is "Street Work" as well as "Mobile Youth Work". Since the global political change of 1989/1990 there are approaches of Street Work in Eastern Europe as well. Street Work is a methodical concept which, on one hand, needs the local, community-based rooting and, on the other, has got concrete offers for youths: People who have time for them, a telephone in order to contact authorities or to ask for employment, a cup of coffee, a shower, a place of rest, a refuge for the management of crisis, but also a place where ideas for leisure-time activities, support for the realisation of the wish for an individual space within the district or offers for social experience with other youths can be realised.

Group Work Work with Cliques

Mobile Youth Work was also initiated as a pragmatic critic of merely individualising approaches within Youth Aid. The role of peers, as being helpful for the socialisation next to parents and school, has not been integrated in a productive way into their forms of reaction by Youth Aid neither in the 60s, nor today. Mobile Youth Work approaches existing cliques and informal groups, because these groups have an important part in the building of views and attitudes of children and youths, but for their management of development challenges as well.
The term clique is frequently being used as a synonym related to the terms peer or peer group and indicates a type of informal groups which can be described as "comprehensible construction, in which every-day-needs and adventures are the main thing. The belonging has a rather fleeting character and is not bound to formal regulations. The informal structures may show hierarchic characteristics sometimes, however, they are subject to the direct influence of those belonging to the clique" (Liebel 1991, p. 306). Cliques mostly show local, social-area patterns of orientation and thus differ from scenes, which have an open, not necessarily local structure and frequently establish themselves along different music- and life-styles.
The characteristic of cliques in their social structure is the "equality of position in the relation to each other" (Krappmann 1991, 364). In this respect they differ from youth groups or gangs which have a hierarchic social leadership structure. Long before German research adopted the issue of cliques, gangs, especially youth gangs have been researched in the USA. The tradition goes far back to early works of the Chicago School about social-economic delinquency research and the classic about gang research "The gang" (Thrasher 1926).
There are other forms of survival nowadays within which the peer group, the clique plays an important part. There has been a change of meaning even during the last two decades. In the view of growing individualisation and increasing loss of orientation of youths, cliques nowadays frequently are said to be "main socialisation points of crucial importance for the survival" (Ferchhoff 1990, p. 72). This is especially true if the basic demands of an individual are not satisfied in the family. The living-up of youth-cultural individuality within the clique is frequently connected to a territorial dimension. Youths, mainly boys, occupy public areas, make their own use of them, understand them to be the stage for clique-related possession processes. It is especially important for revaling cliques.
Mobile Youth Work picks up these problems conceptually within the group and club work. In many cases it supports social area-related evacuation processes in residential areas of the youths.
Such example can be an organisation of meetings in the free time (a certain room for a club, youth centre, access to the community centres, drop-ins and so on). Within cliques, common learning and social discussion is possible. Within the group, youths experience self-value, backing, continuity, trust most important factors for their growing-up. Relation groups can stabilise individual youths in problematic phases. Thus, the approach of Mobile Youth Work is contradictory to repressive forms of dealing with conspicuous street groups. Because frequently, groups are being denounced as being seductive, and it is being overlooked that frequently they grant status and a subjective feeling of security, belonging and strength to the youth concerned. These basic human needs are obviously not being sufficiently granted in the other daily social contexts of the youth and therefore need the possibility of extension or substitute. It is for these positive resources and potentials that youth groups can be said to possess that Mobile Youth Work includes them into its pedagogic processes as a starting point. There are possibilities of overcoming dyadic structures by applying existing relationships, working with the dynamic of the group, initiating or accompanying group-related processes. The frequently only short-term relationship between the youth and the social worker can be extended by processes of building up support structures which are longer-lasting and often more effective. This needs a longer-term relationship work which is being developed in the context of attractive leisure-time-offers and systematic group work in rooms rented for the purpose (Haeberlin/Klenk 1997, Deinet 1966, Vogt 1997).

Community-based Work

Since integration and exclusion, acceptance and rejection, the origin and the solution of problems frequently arise within the environment of young people, Mobile Youth Work makes a point of its approach being community-based. It is inspired by American examples like for instance the work of Saul Alinsky and the concepts of activating and conflict-oriented community-based work (Alinsky 1973; Bahr/Gronemeyer 1974) but by analytic community approaches like they have already been practiced in the settlement movement at the end of the 19th century as well (Mller 1988). By way of field- and social area analysis the main points of Mobile Youth Work are being determined along the local situations and put into action in a sense of grass root youth aid planning (cf. Specht 1980, Specht 1992, Jordan/Schone 1992, p. 45 f./Lukas/Strack 1996). The concept of community-based Mobile Youth Work includes the joining of existing local offers in the sense of an institutional community network and the creation of respective institutional structures like for instance district working groups. The presence within the district, an office, an activity room for the clique, create the necessary precondition to get into contact with the citizens. Additionally to the work with the youths and the families, all inhabitant groups of a district or community are target groups for special actions, who can contribute to the improvement of the social climate within the community or to forms of productive management of social or political conflicts. In this context the concept of "Laienberater" (indigenous worker), developed in the model project "Hallschlag" in 1985, plays a very important role. In the course of social-pedagogic processes former endangered young people or active volunteers from a city district become positive examples for younger group or club members and are therefore either protagonists for the interests of the young people or an authority for the democratic control of the social work.
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