I am delighted to have been asked by Gillian Spratt, Operations Manager of No Limits Trading, to contribute towards the promotion of youth work training as part of the National Youth Work Week.
After walking into Woolston Youth Club in 2003 and asking if I could volunteer, (I started off doing 6 hrs a week) my career developed quite quickly, was diverse and challenging, and between 2003 and 2010 I had the opportunity to work in mainstream schools, pupil referral units, youth clubs, churches, and deliver outreach work. My development, academically, and on a more human level, was significant and the opportunities to develop were vast and provided me with much more than just a solid foundation for continuing to develop my career through working as a Family Engagement worker, Youth Offending Officer and Leaving Care supporter.
My time in the youth service saw me attend an International Rock Concert in Estonia in which young people participated, waking up in the New Forest soaking wet after camping, Outward Bound residential trips to Wales, raft-building, boat fishing, paintballing, watching Southampton FC, powerboating, sailing, cooking, graffitiing, orienteering and much more; the number of opportunities and experiences available for young people and staff is tremendous. These activities were often accredited, and I know that many people still put their achievements (Duke of Edinburgh Awards, ASDAN, NVQs, and Powerboating certificates) on their CVs and they are rightly cherished. However, it is the shared memories that are held most dearly.
Having been one of Gill’s previous students myself and being supported by her in gaining my NVQ2 and 3 in Youth Work as well as the Foundation Degree in Youth Work between 2003 – 2008 I am confident in the knowledge that the support and opportunities for personal growth are equally matched by the chance to progress academically. You will be challenged and tested but this is always done in a safe way in a safe arena where the most important outcome is personal growth!
The fact that Gill had the greatest impact on my youth work career and that one of her latest graduates (Dean) of the Level 3 Certificate in Youth Work now cites me as his inspiration for getting into youth work is an excellent demonstration of the youth work journey going full circle. The fact that he is such an excellent person and worker (I still have some contact with him) suggests we were doing something right!
After almost 20 years of working with young people I still have genuine desire and passion for this work and whilst, in my experience, it is often difficult to tell the positive effect, I personally, and the service generally, have had, there is no greater satisfaction than knowing we have effected positive change. It gives me enormous pride and is an excellent demonstration of how the time, commitment, and passion invested in me to help me develop can be passed on from person to person and generation to generation.
If you’re thinking of entering youth work, give it a go as there really is something for everyone, and this can include work in the community, school, youth clubs, children’s services, and churches and can range from volunteering for a few hours a week to a full-time job. Young people are what makes youth work such an excellent choice as a career or volunteering opportunity but Gill and the team at No Limits Trading will make sure you are supported and developed all the way!
Ben Coen – November 2021