I Know There’s A Tendency To Giggle…

…but this does look (once you get past the surreal feeling that you are reading a ‘Daily Mash’ article) like it just might be something worthwhile:

Uninitiated young men will burn down a village just to feel some heat.”For A Band of Brothers, this African proverb took on new relevance after the riots which set London ablaze last year.

And what does an African proverb have to do with a Brighton council estate, you ask?


The charity believes troubled young men can be brought back into society by restoring the guidance of their elders, forgotten rites of passage and celebrating their initiation into adulthood.In Brighton and Hove older men are volunteering by the dozen to act as mentors to those in need of support – and word of their success is spreading fast.

Their success? Well, it seems so:

The results speak for themselves.Volunteer Dan Hartley says: “Of the seven young men who came on the first trip, all of them had been in trouble with police or in prison before.

“Only one was in employment, education or training.

Six months after the training, none of them were in trouble with the police and all of them were in some work, employment or training.”

I don’t know about you, but I think those are pretty impressive results.

Alex Bailey, chairman of the charity’s trustees, says: “For thousands of years older men have taken younger men into the forest and shown them what is expected of being a man.“A lot of young men we work with maybe don’t see another older man unless they are being arrested by him.”

A very sad fact. And ok, yes, some of it does sound laughable:

The philosophy behind the work has its roots in literature and anthropology, rather than social work.

Participants are taken on a journey inspired by the trials faced by the mythic knight Parsifal.

Errr…. OK….

The charity’s three directors are a psychotherapist and “student of mythology”, a former Master of Mythodrama at the Globe Theatre in London, and a “social entrepreneur”.


Only young people who are ready and willing to change are taken on, often after being referred from public services like probation officers.

They go on an induction to a site near Bolney or Lewes, for an outdoors day in which bushcraft, building shelters and cooking on fires, takes centre stage.

If they are ready, they can be invited on a three-day trip, “The Quest”.

The charity is wary of publicly expanding on what that journey involves, as it is important the young man does not know what is in store.

Physical tasks are set up to challenge the young men. One has involved walking blindfold, following a rope. Dan says: “It will increase their confidence and sense of self-belief if they can do it.”

They are also encouraged to ask searching questions of themselves.

I’ll admit, I think it’s bunk. But, clearly, it works. Or it has worked, here in Brighton.

It remains to be seen whether it’ll work elsewhere, but they seem to want to try:

Groups are being set up in Hastings and Hackney, though the charity is cautious about taking a “one size fits all” approach.

Alex says: “We believe this works. For two years we have been testing this out.

“People are beginning to say, ‘This is interesting, what is it all about?’”

What say you, ‘Orphans’ reader? Bunk, or brilliance?

33 comments for “I Know There’s A Tendency To Giggle…

  1. February 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    taken younger men into the forest and shown them what is expected of being a man

    Duck. Run. There’s a dirty great scandal just waiting behind that tree. Brighton. Hove. Hamilton Hall. Join the dots.

    Not a penny. It’s dodgy enough if over-18s are involved but under-18s and you might just as well hand out the compo forms now.

    There are plenty of open and above-board opportunities for youths if they fancy a spot of dressing up. The Scouts, for example.

    • Mudplugger
      February 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      The village tribes of Papua New Guinea still take their young men into the jungle for a few weeks of ‘initiation’ into manhood. The young men all return fully imbued with their tribal heritage, a thirst for murder and an keen enthusiasm for when it will be their own turn to take later generations of young men into the forest for a few weeks of unbridled boy-sex.

      Bit like the Scouts, but without all that badge and woggle nonsense.

      • February 26, 2012 at 6:08 am


  2. February 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I wouldn’t want to try it on these two, whose response on seeing an elderly man was to Headbutt,punch and kick him

    • February 26, 2012 at 6:09 am

      Lovely… 👿

  3. February 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Interesting notion. I believe it was once tried here in Britain prior to the 1980’s. I think it used to be known as stable relationships. the most dominant feature was the traditional concept of marriage where young men learned what it was to be a man from a figure known as father or dad. Underpinning this notion were character traits of personal responsibility and freedom in which the father recognised the need to stick around and have a positive influence on his son and who in turn passed similar values onto his son. there was a similar dynamic among women. Mass participation in this created this cohesive thing called society or community.

    The whole notion began to get attacked during the 60’s and got particularly hard hit during the 80’s with a movement often known as the loony left. Their adherents held some ideas regarded as crackpot by the majority but somehow their views became the dominant thought process, known as groupthink and saw the systematic dismantling of what had gone before.

    Many of these individuals held memberships of fringe political parties that struggled to get elected because of what the majority regarded as nonsensical policies. Such as been their struggle that they only hold power in one UK city and that would be … Brighton.

    Quelle surprise

    • February 26, 2012 at 6:09 am

      Maybe they won’t hold it for much longer.

  4. February 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Company registered in England number 6113676
    Registered Office: Chase House, Deanland Sixpenny Handley, Salisbury, SP5 5PD
    Registered with the Charity Commission No. 1122852

    That charity number is not showing any result on the Charity Commission website, however there is a flurry of activity on the Companies House website.

    Basically, it’s a general activities company which hopes to get a transfusion from the public purse. I don’t accept that there is any shortage of existing commercial or charitable operators in this field, nor do I think their nostrums will help their referees in the long run.

    What would help in the long run is if the referees are taught to read, write and reckon. I can’t see anything improving until we face the basic truth that these are indispensible skills in a modern economy for all but the most basic of jobs.

    • February 26, 2012 at 6:10 am

      And yet they do claim rather impressive results?

  5. February 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    This particular iteration may be bunk, but I think the idea is sound. If you want one sentence to sum up what is wrong with our society in 2012, this is it: “A lot of young men we work with maybe don’t see another older man unless they are being arrested by him.” It’s easy to laugh at the ‘Iron John’ vibe and the mythology bollocks, but there are peoples on Earth today who we dismissively call ‘Stone Age’ societies, who treat their young men better than we do.

    • February 26, 2012 at 6:11 am

      Spot on! That was the phrase that drew me, too. Restoring Britain touched on it.

  6. February 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    How sad that these young people are obviously so starved of role models and so divorced from society that any sort of ritual and demonstration of their responsibilities, like this bit of nonsense, actually helps – but if it does help then good luck to them, who cares what senario or playacting is used.

    • February 26, 2012 at 6:12 am

      It’ll be interesting to see it rolled out into areas in inner London. that’s for sure. It does feel a wee bit ‘King Canute’ though.

  7. February 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Have you seen the series, “Roots”? All the village boys get taken into the woods for a couple of weeks of initiation then they all get circumcised with a very large knife.
    I wonder it that’s why these people don’t want publicity about what goes on :mrgreen:

    Seriously though, this is just another attempt at dealing with the symptoms of society, results or not. We need to be dealing with the root cause of these problems, something that politicians are unwilling to do because it would take too much time.

    • February 26, 2012 at 6:13 am

      Dealing with the root causes is certainly the long-term goal, but even so, something still needs to be done in the here-and-now.

      • February 26, 2012 at 11:45 am

        I suppose. We seem to have fallen into the trap of only concentrating on the here and now, dealing with symptoms that wil always require an army of social workers, charities and phsychiatrists.
        We no longer seem interested in actually solving problems.

  8. Westerlyman
    February 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Most young men seek acceptance and feelings of self worth. Many seek this from a tribal identity provided, where no better role models exist, by street gangs who usually have an initiation of some sort of another.

    This particular company may be all that other commenter’s suspect but it certainly is an interesting idea to use what appears to be a natural desire for initiation into rehabilitation. Armed forces have used a similar idea to build esprit de corps with tremendous effects on young men.

  9. February 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    “Only young people who are ready and willing to change are taken on, often after being referred from public services like probation officers.”

    Effectively self-selected groups of young people, so difficult to know how effective the idea really is.

    • February 26, 2012 at 6:13 am

      True. But it’s a start.

  10. February 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    One to avoid.

  11. john in cheshire
    February 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Again, yet another bunch of immigrants who have made their problems into our problems. If they weren’t here, then there would be no problem, as far as the indigenous population is concerned.

  12. Lord T
    February 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    We had this sort of thing with the Scouts, U16 Football leagues and similar things. They all reduced dramatically when paedos were found running anything that kids were involved with.

    These people were role models for families with no dads or dads who couldn’t be bothered from any sector of society. A safety net as such which was destroyed by our media and politicians so they could tax people more.

  13. Voice of Reason
    February 25, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    My opinion is that the methods are bunk, but the users believe in their magic. However, it is well known that stable older males bring a calming influence to unruly boys. There was even a National Geogrpahic article last year about the same phenomenon with elephants.

    • February 26, 2012 at 6:16 am

      Yup, they found that ‘rescuing’ cute elephant calves from planned culls was storing up trouble for the future, as with no adults to impose discipline and teach them how to – basically – be elephants, you ended up with multi ton adolescent hoodlums rampaging around the bush.

      The answer was to harden your heart and cull entire family groups.

      • February 26, 2012 at 10:16 am

        Er, werl, yerst, that’s the other way, but I think there might be some legal problems….

        • February 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm

          Can only really apply it to animals. *sigh*

  14. February 26, 2012 at 7:41 am

    It’s actually a very conservative idea; even if it’s wrapped up in New Age and Roots bunkum. This has many ingredients founded in human nature going for it for young men.
    For a couple of million years, if the paleontologists and anthropologists are right, the males (and possibly the childless young females) of any human group would travel away from the children and pregnant females to hunt. Group cohesion existed and the clan survived by habits and instincts to obey and please the senior males. Testosterone was thus tamed profitably in the strength and swiftness of the kill by many habits of respect, deference and obedience.
    These are very ancient instincts and have not been deleted by the feminised and deracinated Left culture that’s ruined so much else. It’s still there to use – despite the elimination of senior males and customarily respected authority figures (in order): fathers; uncles; big brothers; teachers; priests; (drill instructors and petty officers sometimes) foremen and father-in-laws.

    I agree with correspondents that it’s a legal nightmare awaiting to happen, though, once some disgruntled ‘child’ decides it’s all too hard and there’s a big and profitable media fuss to be made instead.

    Have you noticed how after the leftist State campaigned for a couple of generations to destroy the institutions of marriage and respect for authority (and without at any point providing an exit strategy for its anti-family, anti-authority social policies), when it finally acknowledges that we’re not all Rousseauian libertarian templates but instead rather complicated creature capable of compolex and useful behaviour given the right (traditional) guidance, their solution is a seemingly expensive and bureaucratic, and probably public-sector financed one? I can see them bringing a bomb to a gun-fight here. National Coucil for Standards for Professional Shamen, anyone?

    • David
      February 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Quite. They’ve destroyed the concept of family and responsibility so now they step in with a taxpayer funded (state sanctioned) solution. The state as parent – all part of their plan.

  15. John
    February 26, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Presumably stranding these chavs on a remote Scottish Island with nothing more than a torch and some matches would achieve the same “you don’t know how lucky you are” message at less cost.

    Oh – and give one of them a gun as well. You know, in case a bear attacks…

    • February 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      But the animal right groups would make a fuss about the bears..

  16. Robert Edwards
    February 26, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I wish I could share your (cautious) optimism, Julia; I suppose I’d have a higher degree of confidence about this project if it wasn’t based upon Brighton, the sodomy Capital of Northern Europe.

    So if it can be proved that the ‘mentors’ are not a bunch of bearded, Greenie Lib-Dem-voting kiddy-fiddlers, then I will support it, even to the point of making a donation.

    But, upon reflection, perhaps I’m being unfair to decent, well-intentioned men; I well recall happy and carefree days spent connecting with older and wiser folk when I was (at the least of it) an awkward little sod.

    Operating a machine-gun can have this effect…

    • Steve W
      February 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      ” if it can be proved that the ‘mentors’ are not a bunch of bearded, Greenie Lib-Dem-voting kiddy-fiddlers, then I will support it”

      Given the impossibility of proving a negative, does this not strike you as being somewhat closed of mind?

      I’d be far less surprised to find that the 8 jobs they’ve ‘created’ so far are with one of the founders’ own business and they’re using it as a fairly canny play for a whole load of state funding. Then again, I’m quite naive sometimes and tend see a different flavour of bastard than most.

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