Harri* one of the young people we support sat down with Simon, a New Horizon Youth Centre staff member, to find out what makes him tick in honor of Youth Work Week (4_8 November).
H: Could you introduce yourself?
S: Hi, I’m Simon and the Youth and Men’s Worker at New Horizon. I run the Men’s Group.
H: Can you tell us what you do at Men’s Group?
S: We do some trips, we provide hot food so we all eat together. We also cover an array of subjects from politics to music through to games for 16-24 year olds.
H: What do you enjoy the most about your job?
S: The most enjoyable part of the job is seeing young people come in when they’re not in a good space or they’re broken in some way, and then watching them develop to grow, to trust and move on.
H: What made you want to be a Youth Worker?
S: Throughout my life I was always chasing money. I discovered money isn’t really my motivation. I was 40 and I had to decide what I want to do. I didn’t really have a career, I was in and out of this and that. I wasn’t happy. Then my wife at the start of our relationship said to me why don’t you go and do youth work as she saw I was good with young people as I had a youth football team. I didn’t have any youth work qualifications; the route in was volunteering. I had five options and chose this place. I volunteered at New Horizon Youth Centre before I became a full-time employee.
H: Thanks for being so open. So, what are the most challenging parts of your job role?
S: It’s meeting young people’s expectations, because when I was young I needed constant snacks and fuel. There’s lots of challenges.
H: What are your coping strategies outside of work?
S: I go to non-league football. On Saturdays I’ll be on the train to a match for 2 hours looking out the window the sun will be shining, I’ll be going through the countryside and I’ll have my music on and I’ll be at one with the planet.
H: What is the secret to good youth work?
S: The secret is be yourself, but fit that in a professional framework. Youth work isn’t easy. You have to be professional but at the same time you have to be yourself. And if you want to be a youth worker then I think people come to youth work because they want to help young people. They want to help and guide young people. The ability to listen is very important. You need to be a very positive person and you have to bring your own personality to the job and your own life experiences to the job. Working here as a Youth Worker, you’ve got limited time to get to know young people. And young people come here with trust issues in general, I would say. How can I get you to trust me that everything’s going to be alright? You don’t have to tell me about your story but I’m there if you want and I think that’s the key to youth work.
H: I’d like to share some qualities Simon has that he didn’t really mention from an outsider’s point of view. It’s good to hear his side but from the people he deals with. He’s enthusiastic always, he doesn’t show his emotions off to everyone. He’s understanding, he’s resourceful and he’s got really good people skills so he can adapt the way he’s speaking to different people at different ages. Thank you.
*Name has been changed for anonymity
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