Profile: Richard Starling
In 1998, Richard started the Stay Real programme (originally Get Real) in Aranui High School and it has since spread to other high schools and intermediates. Stay Real is a tool to help at-risk children and young people learn how to take responsibility for their behaviour, build resiliency to work through any difficulties that they are facing and develop skills to deal with life issues such as anger and conflict in non-violent ways.
Since 2000, Scripture Union has been working in partnership with the Crossroads Youth with a Future Trust to reach at-risk children & youth in East Christchurch through the Stay Real programme. It is a year long support group with adult guidance (and where necessary some teaching). It works on a similar basis as Alcoholics Anonymous where members gain support and confidence from hearing each other share in a confidential setting and implementing the 12 steps into their lives. Stay Real acknowledges young people’s emotional, social and spiritual needs.
The young people Richard works with have difficult and complex problems. The longitudinal nature of the programme, the continuity and availability of staff and time spent on outdoor activities allows time to build trust between group members and facilitators. The programme helps young people self assess, set goals and work out strategies to deal with issues and thus enables them to help themselves and reduce the dependency cycle. When the young people learn more appropriate ways to manage their own anger and obtain help to address violence or other issues in their life, it benefits the whole community.
Through Richard, Scripture Union can help churches across New Zealand with simple resource ideas and tips on how to best work with an at risk generation.
Richard and his wife Barbara have three daughters and live in East Christchurch.