About our Contributor: Jenni Osborn

by Emma Betty October 17, 2017 A

There are several people who contribute in a lot of ways to CONCRETE’s Think Tank’s and online content. We want to give everyone the opportunity to get to know them better – over the coming months we will be asking them questions relating to their youth work as well as some more light hearted questions.

  1. Why do you think work with young people is important?
    I’m a firm believer in incarnational ministry and that’s because we all need someone to walk through this life with us. Even more so during our teenage years when the world we lived in previously gets tipped over, challenged and rebelled against whilst we struggle to find our own path, our own identity. So much happens physically, emotionally and hormonally in those years, it’s important that young people have someone outside of their close family to connect with, to look to for guidance and support.
  2. What are 2 challenges you face working with young people?
    The biggest challenge of these times is in mental health: this is a challenge for all but especially for our young people as it is widely accepted that many mental health issues begin in teenage years.The challenge has several facets: supporting those who are already struggling with different issues – especially getting specialist help in this climate where the children and adolescent mental health service is so overwhelmed and underfunded; equipping those who are yet to struggle so that when they do, they recognise what’s happening to them and know how to get help; and then supporting those with serious life-long diagnoses. There aren’t too many teenagers in the latter category but more and more of our young adults are having to cope with life-altering mental health illnesses, presenting a huge challenge to both society and the church.I think the other big challenge is around self-esteem and self-image. This isn’t a new thing but it does have a new ‘edge’ to it since the rise of the internet and especially the growth in use of social media. Time and again I watch young people go through difficult patches with their friends or friends of friends all magnified by the echo chamber of Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube and other platforms. Our young people need to be ‘media savvy’ to understand that very little of what we see on these platforms and others are totally authentic, without filter. They need to understand that comparing other people’s snapshots of life with everything they know about their own lives isn’t healthy!
    There’s a sense in which nothing is new – the challenges of equipping and guiding young people are the same as they’ve always been. Teenagers are prone to self-centredness, to believe they are entitled, or at the other end of the esteem spectrum, to believe they are worth nothing and become anxious about the state of the world despite not necessarily being able to change the big picture. Having said that, I don’t think it’s ever been harder to be a young person that it is today. Issues that previously would have been contained and short-lived now have a tendency to spill into every area of life and have potentially long-reaching consequences. Now, more than ever before our young people need to know we are there for them, no matter what.
  3. What is the last book you read?
    I read a lot – so far this year I’ve read 52 books. Yesterday I finished The Son by Jo Nesbo, a Scandinavian crime writer. Next on my list is Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver. I love stories with tension and surprise, interesting characters and a plot which takes you by surprise!
  4. What is the last TV series you watched?
    I have a long standing fascination with the country of India. When I went out there at age 18 for a 6 month mission trip I was advised to read a book about Partition and was utterly appalled that this awful tragedy had happened but wasn’t well known at all. So I’m currently watching the BBC series on 70 years after Partition, including the emotional ‘My Family, Partition and Me’ fronted by Anita Rani.
    I loved The Great British Bake Off and was so enchanted by Nadia Hussein and her winning speech that I’ve been watching her cookery programme. And my husband and I are big Marvel fans so we’ve just finished watching the Iron Fist series on Netflix.
  5. When are you happiest?
    When I’m singing! I used to sing in a gospel choir in my local area and that was such a blast. We performed in various venues around the county and I loved it. Now I mostly sing in church and the car!
  6. If you could bring one change to the young peoples lives that you work with what would it be?
    If there was one thing I could give to my young people it would be confidence! Confidence in themselves and in the promises of God for their lives.