I was playing football on my street with fences as goals posts, the middle of the road lines as the halfway line when 2 youth workers came to speak to us during detached youth work, I remember one of them telling us about the trips (Ben) but kept pronouncing it wrong and the other being a vegetarian (Rich) that is how I met Ben and Rich that were from then on were known as fish and chips. They invited us to a local youth clubs that was 2 minutes away from our house which we knew nothing about.
I was a young lad getting regularly excluded from school and increasing in risk taking behaviours outside school, I was a product of my environment. I spent some schooling in pupil referral units and was constantly at risk of permanent exclusion, drugs and alcohol became a part of my life as a young teenager too. I started attending the local youth clubs and although nothing changed immediately, I now belonged to something, was listened to, got opportunities, earned accredited skills and qualifications, learned new things, the first time I went to London and saw all the sites and historical places was through the youth club. I built a good relationship with Ben and he mentored me over the years, having someone outside of a family home but trustworthy and fun is needed in every life young or old.
Looking back, I was shaped by my time and input at the youth club and with youth workers and years later was inspired, after a lifestyle change, to positively impact other young peoples lives just like mine was. I enrolled on a v-talent year with the council to gain my NVQ Level 2 in Youth Work, I worked on a zero-hour contract for a while before getting a full-time youth engagement worker role with Weston Church Youth Project. My time at WCYP was fulfilling and rewarding, I have seen young people grow and develop into amazing adults that are seeking careers and dreams that our clubs, trips and activities gave them aspirations to do. My role helped young people gain qualifications, provided once in a lifetime opportunity and gave young people a safe environment, an encouraging voice and a listening ear.
I have recently passed my Level 3 certificate in Youth Work Practice through No Limits Trading and enjoyed learning the theory behind what I have been doing day to day for over 10 years! To be able to look back and see the impact you have had on a young person’s life is incredible, although the success and impact is somewhat immeasurable the value will be felt for a lifetime.
Being trained to this level is great and give me the option should I wish to go onto a degree level education in youth work and continue to grow in my experience and profession. Even if I don’t continue in youth work I know that I will always meet young people through the path of life and I have children that will become teenagers, this time has equipped me to make the most of every meet and value young people for who they are not just for what they do.
Dean Waters – November 2021