Stories from the Road : 5 Images and Realities

Dave Wiles and Tim Evans as Chief Executives of youth work organisations decided to draw attention to the good stories about young people by taking to the road with only £10 in their pockets. If you want to read earlier episodes, click here.

Having enjoyed our first free dinner (thanks for the sarnies, Trudi) we wandered on through Bristol. Wesley’s Chapel provided inspiration for travelling pilgrims!  John and Charles may well be saddened, though, by their empty chapel, which has no regular congregation.  We walked on into the Broadmead Shopping Centre to talk to two young lad sat in the centre of the mall….

The two lads were rolling cigarettes when we asked for their help!  We explained our intentions – only this time, rather than looking for a ‘story of hope’, we began by asking how they think young people are portrayed in the media. 

Their response is sophisticated and well thought through.  No trite, shallow or defensive analysis but rather, a clear concern that, “Yes, some young people are a problem, many of them do get in trouble but not all who wear hoodies are the spawn of the devil!” 

Both lads have been to a local university and know the Bristol night life and are familiar with the local sub culture.  They are aware that they can sometimes seem intimidating but they are proud of their friends and speak warmly of them. 

We chat about terrorism and the generalisations and stereotypes that run the risk of becoming self fulfilling prophecies – hardening attitudes between faith groups and races in the way that generalisations across the generations perpetuate barriers and divisions.  One of the young men mentioned how his mother spoke highly of a mate of his who had helped her with her shopping the other day. However, we all agreed that this was less likely to make the news than the negative diet that the media market so successfully! 

We say good bye and the lads offered to shake our hands, check out on our journey and wish us well. 

I wrote the story above on a bench opposite the boys and for the tentative purposes of reliability and validity showed it to them.  They thought it reflected our conversation well and told me they had been having a great discussion about these issues since we left them!  It was then that a young man who was drunk came to ask us for money….

A booklet called “Hope – Stories from the Road” containing all the stories is now available from Frontier Youth Trust on 0121 687 3505 at £5 (+50p P&P) all proceeds go to ‘Talent – Young People in Action Trust Fund’.

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