Being a youth worker is incredibly rewarding, says Florence

Florence - Youth and Community student

Florence is a final year BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work student who is undertaking her work placement at Mind, Newport.

Walking through the town centre in Newport, I saw USW students passing by wearing youth worker t-shirts. Having already thought about a career change, I look at the University website and realised this was exactly the change I had been looking for. I applied there and then!

There are many different job roles you can undertake with a degree in youth and community work. Work placements give you a taste of what it’s like to work in different settings. In year one, I worked at Volunteer Matters; an organisation that helps young people with issues such as sexual health, drink and drugs. In year two I was based at Hale House; helping the homeless to rebuild their lives through a residential programme. For my final year I am working at Mind, Newport, educating young people about mental health.

The placement I undertook at Hale House was the most significant. It helped me to identify where I see myself following graduation. During this placement, I saw things that at times could be unpleasant and even disturbing. Sometimes it felt like I was watching something uncomfortable on TV, just without the luxury of changing the channel. Regardless of the challenges faced, the experiences I had were life-changing. I saw dramatic changes in some of the people I helped. It’s incredibly satisfying to see them start the next chapter of their lives.

At Mind, I am a Youth Support Worker. My role is focused on raising awareness of mental health. It requires me to go into schools to educate pupils; addressing the stigma surrounding it. During these sessions it is important for me to stress, that if anyone does suffer with poor mental health, they need to talk to someone rather than bottling it up. I’ve learned that you can’t take away the problems someone is having; but you can help them to find coping strategies and develop the confidence to speak out.

What I enjoy most about my role is that I have been able to improve my public speaking abilities, when presenting information to young people. I never would have been able to speak to a group of over 20 people prior to my placement. Through learning about the charity and plenty of preparation, my confidence has grown. The rest has come together through practice. The main thing I try to do when delivering sessions is to communicate key messages; connecting with people throughout the process.

The BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work is dynamic. Each step of the way is unbelievably rewarding. On reflection I have become more resilient, can articulate things and have become a better person. You get out of the course what you put in and for me it’s changed my whole outlook on the world.