Empathy for youth on the streets 'a must': FOCAS volunteers


p2513 Karina Akarana 300By KIERAN FINNANE
After a break because of “high level of stuff on streets” and the need for more volunteers, Karina Akarana’s FOCAS group is starting up again tomorrow, Friday. The acronym stands for “For Our Community Alice Springs.”
While foot patrols were part of the operations when FOCAS first started, they later focussed mainly on a sausage sizzle, outside the cinemas (photo below).
Tomorrow though they will be walking the streets as Ms Akarana says youth have mainly moved out of the CBD now.
Meeting at Hungry Jack’s at 8.30pm, the volunteers will set out at staggered intervals in groups of four, on a circuit taking in the cinemas, Wills Terrace, Hungry Jacks, Beau Repaires, up towards the Jetcor bike shop – “you’re getting kids hanging out there now” – and back to Indervon, the Kittles car yard and McDonalds.
About eight volunteers have put their hands up for tomorrow’s rounds over four hours, men and women, tending to be either involved with church groups or service providers.
Depending on numbers, Ms Akarana would like to go out again on Saturday.

2459 Kittles street kids NEWAbove: Youths gathered outside the Kittles car yard before its permanent high fence was installed. 

Photo from our archive. 

The idea is “just engaging” with the youth they meet along the way.
“Empathy is a must,” says Ms Akarana. “Not wrapping them in cotton wool, but if you don’t have empathy for the youth, it’s very hard to do what we need to do.
“The volunteers we’ve got aren’t scared to be out on the road, they’re happy to engage where it’s needed.”
If there’s trouble, the police are called.
“We’ve got a good connection with youth engagement police force,” says Ms Akarana, “they’ve worked with us really well and we’re not there to give them more to worry about.”
Interested volunteers need an Ochre Card (clearing them to work with children; apply through NT Police SAFE NT); First Aid training is a bonus. Call Karina on 0411 459 194.



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