Detached Work

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To download the guidelines below as a PDF, click here… (41KB) 

Click to download the New Wine Safeguarding Guidelines (accessed March 2019)


This is an introduction to detached work. In this context, these guidelines have been developed from several documents, including: a Christian Youth Ministry’s Child Protection Guidelines, a Council’s Detached Youth Work Guidelines. This session has also been supported by a Teacher Trainer, who has contributed tips on good communication skills with children and young people. (Although these are applicable to people of any age group). 

Please Note – Essential Info

These guidelines are not complete and are not necessarily in line with all current guidelines and regulations (as they change very quickly). It is up to you to make sure that you create and develop your own guidelines, according to the type of detached youth work you are involved with and current national / your current regulations.

If your aims are less ‘Christian’ and more ‘secular’ (perhaps due to the nature of funding, or type of project you work within), then you will need to develop the first category of guidelines, to include for example:

– social and personal well being and development.
– consistent regular detached work to build healthy relationships.
– challenging anti-social behaviour and negative / harmful attitudes.
– listening to concerns and enabling, empowering, advocating on their behalf.

In the wording, we’ve used ‘youth work leader’ to be the person contacted in case of concerns. This should be changed to the appropriate person for your event.


1. To make contact and be available to young people opting out of the main tent

2. To build effective and meaningful relationships with those young people through your contact with them, building mutual trust, respect and understanding.

3. If appropriate, to encourage young people back into the main tent, if necessary, going in with them and supporting them.

4. To help bridge gaps in understanding between the young people and Christianity. To make the most of any opportunity to share Christ in love, action and words.

5. To work with young people to help them gain knowledge and recognise new opportunities in the world around them. To enable young people to take more control over their lives which enable them to make informed choices.

TALKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE – (from some youth work guidelines)

1. Always talk and pray with someone in a group of more than two if possible. One-to-one contact is best only in a public place. Privacy is a factor but don’t go alone.

2. As far as possible, talk with members of same-sex. Where 2 detached workers are male and female, this is less of an issue.

3. Always pray and talk in an open space where others are around. 

4. Confidentiality is important. They must know that the things they share won’t be spread around. However, you must never promise absolute secrecy. If they are likely to cause harm to themselves or others, you need to inform the team leader. 

5. Keep calm and honest. Don’t feel you have to know all the answers. If you don’t know, find someone who does and ask them. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

6. Don’t keep bringing it round to your own experience, i.e. “Yes, I remember when that happened to me and…”. Testimony is good but listen.

7. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

8. Don’t appear shocked or appalled, even if you are. Stay calm and assured.

9. Don’t laugh at them.

10. Don’t minimise or trivialise the issue even if it doesn’t seem important to you. If they need to talk about it, it’s important.

11. Be aware of your body language and the way you’re reacting. Always
encourage and affirm. Don’t judge or condemn.

12. Don’t feel you have to wrap it up straight away. Some things may need talking through more. In these cases you should involve another adult. Don’t offer to do it on your own or offer the availability of someone else without checking with them.

13. If you are told anything illegal you must tell the youth work main leader immediately, who will contact the appropriate body as necessary.

14. Don’t take on board other people’s problems as if they were your own. Remember empathy is standing in someone else’s shoes with your feet firmly in your own.

15. Do not under any circumstances touch someone inappropriately when praying or talking with them. Remember we need to be above reproach. See guidelines on touch below.

16. Follow up. If they are part of a church group, say that you’d like to contact one of their leaders so they can touch base with them to see how they’re getting on. Be open about this with them.

17. If you have any positive or negative things to feedback, let the youth work leader know so that things can continue to improve.

18. Do not divulge your home address or mobile number, or personal information. This information should be kept confidential, for your own safety.


1. Keep everything in public. A hug in the context of a group is very different from a hug behind closed doors.

2. Touch should be related to the young person’s needs, not the worker’s.

3. Touch should be age-appropriate and generally initiated by the young person rather than the worker.

4. Avoid any physical activity that is, or may be thought to be, sexually stimulating to the worker or the young person.

5. Young people are entitled to determine the degree of physical contact with 
others except in exceptional circumstances i.e. medical attention.

6. Team members should take responsibility for monitoring one another in the area of physical contact. Constructively challenge a colleague if necessary.


1. We recognise, sadly, that many young people today are the victims of neglect and physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

2. If a young person discloses some kind of abuse, follow the guidelines about talking and praying with young people above. Especially bear in mind the need for confidentiality without promising secrecy and the need for calmness and loving acceptance.

3. Don’t ask leading questions which could be said to be suggesting ideas to the young person and influencing what they say. Only reflect back what they’ve said.

4. Try to write down all the details of what was said within an hour of talking to the young person if possible, in case an investigation is necessary.

5. Tell the young person that you will need to let someone else know (the youth work leader).

6. If it is felt that the young person and/or other family members may be in danger, social services must be informed. Tell the youth work leader first.

7. If an allegation of serious abuse is made against a member of the team, the youth work leader must be informed and the police must be informed as soon as possible.


1. Lego game: Make a lego pattern and have the equivalent pieces available. Sit 2 people either side of a screen so they can’t see each other. The one with the complete lego model has to describe it to the other person, who has to built the exact same thing as far as they can.

2. Sit 2 people down and one has to tell the other person about themselves. The other person then has to reflect back what they have said.

3. Have a couple of people pretend to be young people. Then get 2 others to go up to them and try to engage with them. What strategies can we use? Feed back and learn, get someone else to do the exercise.

4. Question – how do you approach a group without being threatening, or being threatened?

5. Learn about how you talk to someone and engage with them. Maybe get 2 people up to act out how not to do it..

6. What do you do in the event of bad behaviour or conflict, or even threats?

7. Get a white board or big pieces of white paper / pens. Get people to write down words they feel describe young people – or the feelings of young people coming out / not going into the main tent.

8. What words would you use to describe a good youth worker, someone who has supported you? Shout them out and list them on a flipchart or a laptop..

9. Building trust is essential when engaging with young people – how can we build trust in a detached situation?

10. Develop your listening skills. How do we develop them and what are they in practice?

 Do not interrupt them when they are speaking 
• Use body language (nods, affirmative murmurs) to confirm you’re absorbing what’s said 
• Summarise what you think has been said 
• Ask questions that indicate interest 
• Look intently at the person who is speaking to you (but do not stare) 
• Do not interrupt the person 
• Nod or say something to show you understand what is being said 
• Ask questions to find out more about the subject or clarify points 
• Repeat what you heard in your own words 
• Thank the speaker and, where possible, say how useful/interesting it has been
• Develop a genuine interest in the speaker and what is said
• Think about what the words mean to the speaker 
• Grasp what meaning is being conveyed beyond the mere words 
• Keep a mental record of key points 
• Be aware of strategies if the young person doesn’t want to talk or communicates in other ways

11. Imagine you are a young person on the street. How wouldn’t you want people to approach you? Let’s think about that, and then not do that!! Conversely (as stated above), if you were a young person on the street, how would you want someone to approach you?