Anyone who works with me knows that I’m mildly obsessed with the asset-based approach. That’s because it works and because I see the impact it has in our work with young people.
My team are absolutely brilliant at revealing a young person’s asset-base as a starting point for any intervention. It means we get to see for real how incredible our young people are. This isn’t putting a positive spin on things. They really are.
But here’s the rub. The wider conversation is not in the same vein. Funders require us to tell them just terribly deprived and vulnerable the young people we work with are.
Tender processes require us to quote just how marginalised they and their communities are.
And partners, volunteers and local businesses want us to tell stories that reveal positive change so that we all feel great about the difference we’ve made.
Case-studies are most powerful when authentic, but this isn’t Love Actually or a rags to riches tale.
To treat young people as our equals means telling the truth. The truth is that they are strong, capable, human and with their whole lives ahead of them. We are all mere catalysts.
It’s not such a great narrative, but patronising them with stories of them and us is not asset-based or equal.