You want to start a new YCW group and you are about to get started. What are the important things to do in this preparation or study stage?
1. Clarifying your objectives
• Spend some time quietly reflecting on the importance of what you are undertaking.
• Try to clarify the most important things you wish to achieve by starting the YCW so that you will be able to give a clear and simple answer to those who ask you questions.
• Take opportunities to speak to people with YCW experience, and to read any articles you find helpful in deepening your understanding.
2. Recruiting your team
• Make a careful choice of two or three people to assist you as members of the initiation team. A good team could consist of three or four people who agree to take joint responsibility for the new group in its initial stages.
• Try to ensure that they understand fully what they will be asked to do before they make their final decision to agree to do this work.
• Team members should commit themselves to persevering in this work for some time. The new group should be fully independent after six months of meetings. Perhaps team members should all commit themselves for a minimum of six months. What do you think?
3. Building a united team
• The team should meet on a number of occasions to build team spirit, friendship and especially, to clarify their objectives.
• It is very important that team members reach an understanding and agreement on questions about what is essential to the YCW and what is not YCW method and orientation.
4. Collecting facts
• Team members should spend some time gathering facts and statistics about the area for example the numbers of young workers, numbers of unemployed, where young people work. This helps the team to build a picture of the young workers’ life and it introduces them to local resources and agencies.
• The team should begin to progressively build up a list of young workers in the area. There are many means of getting these names – parish lists, school lists, talking to families etc.
5. Making some important decisions
• What sort of group will we start: a parish group, a category group, a neighbourhood group, or a workplace group?
• How shall we advertise the group and who should we officially inform?
If we are starting a parish group, then the parish council should be consulted and informed. If we are starting a group in a neighbourhood area or a colony, perhaps the local leader of that community should be consulted.
But if we are starting a workplace group in a factory, perhaps we should make plans to ensure that news of the group does not get out. Such news could endanger the life of some young workers.
• Where shall the new group meet? It should be a place where the group feels comfortable, with sufficient chairs and, if possible, facilities for making or providing some drinks. It should be quiet enough so that all can hear what is said in the meeting.
• Is it possible that another group could be started in a neighbouring area at the same time? The YCW is a young workers’ movement. Your new group will in time have its own local leaders. They will want to meet other YCW leaders. It will be most useful if there are other new YCW groups around the area. It would be worthwhile to talk about your plans to neighbouring parishes and see if it is possible that they could join in and start a group at the same time.
The Contact Stage
In this stage we aim at contacting, making friends, and arousing the interest of the young workers that we hope might join the new group. We want to discover young people who will be the worker leaders of the future. We want to invite them to an introductory meeting where they can learn more about the YCW and decide if they would like to become active members of the movement.
As we prepare, we remember Cardijn’s challenging words:
“We must have faith in the value of the poor, in the capacity of every young worker to accept responsibility and take effective action. I dare to demand from you this unconditional faith.”
Method for the contact stage
1. Finalising a list of names
Probably (after all the work done in the ‘Study Stage’) you now have quite a list of young workers or groupings of young workers. For example: you may have found out that many young workers are working in the rubber plantations, that many migrant workers are living in one particular area of the town and that there are many children working at the local firecracker factory. You will have to decide on your priorities. Which of these groupings will you begin with?
It is no easy task to make these decisions. Some teams will opt to work with the group they know best or the group that will be easiest to organise. Some teams will try to mix too many groups of young workers in one group. While there is no right answer to such problems, it is important that the team face them and make a clear decision.
2. Preparing for contact work
The only successful method I know of contacting young workers is by visiting them and talking to them. Posters in the neighbourhood centre, or notices read in the Church on Sundays will inform people that a group is about to start. However, if we want members, we must go out and knock on doors. If we prepare well, we will probably find that it is a very fulfilling work.
How do you prepare? I know of three ways that are valuable means.
• Firstly, it is good if you can warn people that they might be visited. This can be done in a parish, for example, by a pulpit notice and perhaps a request by the parish priest that people welcome the visitor.
• Secondly clarify your motivation in visiting. The aims of the visitation are:
To make a friend. You have not come to sell anything but rather to ask questions and listen.
To inform them that a YCW group is going to be started.
To tell them a little about the YCW if they are interested.
To motivate them to come along to the introductory meeting.
• Thirdly, YCW leaders preparing for contact work often do a role play. Two take the part of the visitors, and one, the part of the person being visited. They try to act out what might happen. It is fun and a good means of preparing for this work. Why not give it a try?
3. Start contacting young workers
The contact visit should not be long and especially our explanations should not be long. We are only asking people to come and have a look. If they like what they see, we hope they will return. We are not asking them to agree to join for life but just to come to the introductory meeting and see if they would be interested to come again.
The contact stage should not continue for an extended time. If the preparation is well done, the contacts will probably be able to be made in a couple of weeks at the maximum. Most young workers like to see action. As soon as there are enough interested to come along, organise the Introductory Meeting.
4. The introductory meeting
The aim of the introductory meeting is to give interested young workers a chance to see what the YCW is like before they agree to join. Young workers want to find out who else is interested enough to come and what they are like. They would like to hear in a group what the YCW is all about and to see what others think about this. In a word they want to evaluate whether it is a good thing to join or not.
The agenda should be friendly and informative, giving people a chance to meet and share with the others who have come along. It is not possible to present the YCW very adequately at such a meeting and it is better not to try. Instead some key ideas should be presented giving emphasis to making people welcome and respected.
An example of an agenda that has been used for the introductory meeting.
1. Welcome everybody. Get them to introduce themselves one by one, saying where they live, went to school and what they are doing now.
2. Conclude this section with a comment. What we do during our ordinary day, what happens there, and the relationship we have with the people there is very important to ourselves, but we often think it would not be interesting to others. In the YCW we spend a lot of time discussing what we do in our ordinary life because we recognise that it is an area of great importance ‘to us personally, as well as the place that we are called to serve God’ and our community.
3. Get people to split up into pairs with someone they don’t know well and to tell one another about their families – how many in the family, how old they are, what they do etc.
4. Conclude this section with another comment. Our families are very important to us and we are to them, but we often drift along without recognising our need to be actively involved there. This is also an area of importance in the YCW.
5. One of the leaders gives a talk on what the YCW has meant to them in their own life
6. The other leader tells how the YCW would be organised in this group – the use of the program – the need to get two of those present to prepare and lead the first meeting on the following week.
7. Find out who of those present would be prepared to come back next week and try the YCW. Organise for two of them to lead that meeting and arrange a time to prepare the meeting with them.