…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.
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?