Just Walk With Me - Book Review

Posted on October 28, 2008 by Amy Tolmie
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Ruth Stacey is Deputy Director at the Luton Churches Education Trust. She has not only been working with young people over her last 10 years with the trust, but also helping support and guide the team in their work in schools. Here Ruth reviews 'Just Walk With Me' by Jude Simpson.

Just Walk With Me

I always thought the young people I worked with were hard-core. I thought they were at the demanding end of the spectrum socially and emotionally. I thought I knew what it was to do youth work with 'tough' kids. Not any more. Just Walk With Me has blown apart my illusions.

An account of a year in the life of inner city Bradford project e:merge, this book looks through the eyes of new youthworker Niki in her first year being involved with the project. Her very honest diary entries tell the story of her journey from a middle class Christian youthwork background to the reality of life on an estate in the middle of one of the UK's most socially deprived areas. We see her wrestling with what it means to be a Christian youthworker with teenagers who have no respect for themselves, let alone anyone else or God. Niki's 'black and white' world is challenged throughout the book as she grows in her understanding of the young people she finds herself working with and why they act and say the things they do.

Niki's diary entries are pulled together through an engaging narrative of the work from the project's founder and seasoned youth worker Yan. The book is honest and the workers never claim they get things right all the time. The style of the writing draws the reader in, it encourages you, as the title says to walk the journey with them. The style neither patronises the reader nor assumes too much knowledge. The feel is of a friend talking to you about what they are doing. This is just the perspective you want in a book from a fellow youth worker.

The only downside is, if you are reading the book expecting the sharp humour and wit of comedienne and poet Jude Simpson, you will be disappointed. Instead Simpson's style in this account is honest and straight forward, not without humour, but very true to the feel of the team, which is as it should be.

This brave book exposes, as well as profiles, the e:merge project and their workers. I hope that it will bring them a great deal of renewed publicity and support to carry on their fantastic work.

What will you get out of reading this book? If you're anything like me, then:

• Permission to think through why you do the style of youth work you do.
• Renewed energy to look at young people from God's perspective and to see the small, but important, steps they make towards him.
• A reminder that young people usually act a certain way for a reason.
• Ideas to help you to think about your practice.
• Encouragement to keep on going, even when things are hard.

The book prompted me to ask a lot of new and old questions about my practice and that of my team. So, my advice? Read this book with pen and paper in hand.

Just Walk With Me
Jude Simpson
Authentic / £6.99 / ISBN: 9781860246111

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