“Ask and listen” is a good guide to all youth work, Christian Wentzel emphasizes.
Lately several serious crimes committed by young people have come up for public debate. What exactly causes nausea, the station’s executive director of children Christian Wentzel?
One reason is impossible to say, but it plays a part in the rapid pace of society, where not all young people have the same fines in coping, Wentzel says.
“It’s always good to remember that young people are not a homogeneous group. Most of the young people are doing well, but the problems are piling up for those who are already having difficulties in their lives. ”
In 1990 The children of the established Station aim to bring safe adults and youth work to where young people are. One of the key tasks of the organization is also to act as an understanding and a point of view in public debate.
“Understanding, however, is a different matter than acceptance. Even myself is plagued by the total lack of empathy of the perpetrators in the brutal keys. Unfortunately, not everyone learns empathy at home. Then it is up to society, schools, organizations, municipal youth work and parishes to teach it. ”
It must also be understood that Finland is not an isolated island, Wentzel says. When information travels at the speed of light, nasty phenomena can also land on us quickly. This is, of course, the case with young people.
“The latest example is this roadman phenomenon that comes from the British. That is why things need to be looked at with a global perspective. What new stuff and currents are there that might lift our heads as well? ”
Youth work at the heart should always be the question “what belongs to you,” Wentzel emphasizes.
“It’s not rocket science. But then you should still take the time to hear that answer. Only then do things start to happen. ”
What kind of message is then being carried out among young people?
“A lot of it is that you don’t feel welcome. There is a lot of talk in the keynote speeches that public space belongs to everyone, but the reality is different. ”
A good example is the Walkers House, run by the children of the Station, which is a low-threshold space for young people. When the previous premises opposite the Kamppi shopping center on Narinkkator went below after the real estate transactions, it took as many as two years to find new ones.
“Several potential landlords were told that you are doing important work, but … A big thank you to the Hämäläinen department and its foundation for finally becoming tenants of the same property as Tavastia.”
A location in the center of Helsinki is essential if you want to be serious for young people. There will always be young people applying to downtown, Wentzel says.
“It is pointless for adults to tease if young people gather at a train station or in malls if there is no other place to show them. It is summer and warm now, but it must be remembered that it is cold, wet and dark in Finland for five months a year. Where can young people gather then? ”
Wentzel ended up himself involved in the activities of the children of the Station years ago “through many bends”. One important reason was the death of a good friend from a drug overdose.
“His mother upset the then station’s children’s executive director Hannu Penttisen with a memorial concert. Because I had done some music with this friend of mine, I was in a tiny little part of the production. At one point I was asked to join the board of the organization. ”
In his current position, he has served for the past eight years.
During that time, Asema’s children have strengthened their role as a grassroots body as well as an expert organization that operates nationwide. The number of employees has also increased from fifteen to forty.
“In the children of the station, I am fascinated by the fact that the journey from idea to implementation is not necessarily long. The business idea is that we constantly have antennas outdoors; observing society, and when it is discovered that something should be done about something, we start to give birth to new activities. ”
Quick response was needed, for example, last year, when Korona and the accompanying restrictive measures also affected the activities of Asema’s children.
“We had a critical debate about whether we can implement the work at all.”
Eventually it was decided to increase it.
“We found that as those adults who were able to move to telecommuting ceased to be in public space, the proportion of adults living in margins in public space increased as a percentage. At the same time, however, young people are still applying for the city center. We stated that guards and officials cannot be the only adult contacts for young people. ”
Behind it all is interest and curiosity about the world of young people, Wentzel says.
“Part of our job is building trust with young people, and it takes time. At the same time, it is a hard and warm message when young people ask if you are really here for us. ”
Born in Helsinki in 1971.
Executive Director of Aseman lapset ry.
Master of Philosophy, University of Helsinki. Major in general history.
Plays drums, bands e.g. Andy McCoy Band, Camu, Naked.
Lives in Helsinki. Turns 50 on Friday, July 16th.