Chloe Chandler is a BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work (Youth Justice) graduate who achieved an Upper Second Class Honours. She is now working at Mind, Newport on the Changing Minds project.
Why did you choose to study the BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work (Youth Justice)?
I started a teaching course at university but later realised that it wasn’t the right career path for me. Therefore, I decided to undertake a youth offending training course in Newport on the back of some voluntary work I was doing. On completion of this, I started volunteering at the Youth Offending Service (YOS), where I supported young people with sport, getting back to work/education, reparation and youth projects. It was there I realised that I wanted to do a degree that would allow me to develop a career in youth work.
What work placements did you undertake as part of your course?
Whilst studying the BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work (Youth Justice) I undertook work placements at Newport Youth Offending Service and Newport Mind. Both of my placements led to jobs, so you never know where the course may lead.
To give you an idea of the work I was involved in, I planned and delivered Kith ‘n’ Kin, a mental health group for parents and young people, in collaboration with Families First. The sessions were designed to give parents an understanding of what their children go through, when dealing with mental health issues. I also participated in community events as part of an awareness building exercise. This included mental health stigma workshops in schools and colleges. I also volunteered and eventually worked for the lottery funded, Changing Minds Project. It was set up to provide support across Gwent to 14 -25 year olds with mental health issues. This involves helping young people through 1:1 support, group sessions and volunteering.
What does your current role for Changing Minds involve?
Following graduation, I returned to Newport Mind working as a Changing Minds Volunteer Coordinator. As part of my role, I recruit and train young volunteers to become peer mentors for support groups. I run training sessions for them on coping strategies for mental health issues, child protection, the role of the volunteer and boundaries. My job also requires me to deliver training sessions to Six-form and Year 11/10 pupils who want to become mental health peer mentors for their school. In addition, I run bespoke events for our volunteers.
What has been your biggest challenge in this role?
Hitting our targets for training volunteers, whilst continuing to support the volunteers we already have, is my biggest task. It’s important that targets are met as it helps to safeguard incoming funds to keep the project going. Being able to maintain a balance between the two is key. This allows us to continue the services we provide to those who need our help. I also believe it is very important for volunteers to feel supported and get as much out of it as possible.
What have you learnt through studying the course and your experience in the workplace?
To make an impact in your role, you have to be a people person who enjoys chatting with others. By doing so you get to know someone on a higher and more meaningful level. You must try to be open-minded and accepting as well as that’s what builds relationships.
It’s important to get as much experience as you can in different settings. Employers want to see you have experience and can deal with a multitude of situations. It appeases any reservations they may have about employing you and bestows a level of confidence that you are more than capable of doing the job.