Siobhan O’Reilly is a BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work student. She is undertaking her second year work placement at Maindee Community Centre, Newport.
I grew up in Northern Ireland as a young carer for my two parents, who have disabilities. Providing support to them (with my siblings) was something I did naturally. As a result of my circumstances, I became a member of Carers UK which led to me being a Young Carer volunteer. I then progressed to Trainee Leader and represented Northern Ireland for the Carer’s Trust. This involved travelling the UK, assessing young adult carer groups, to see whether we could award them a Carers Trust grant to assist the projects they were working on. Being part of the Carer’s Trust opened the door to me being part of Big Lottery. I eventually became Chair of the Youth Forum there, who I still work for today.
Looking back, the experiences I had helped shape my values and the way I view the world. I am now at a point in my life where I want to continue to help others through the work that I do, which is why I decided to enrol onto the BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work at USW. The course is practical, which is perfect given the type of learner I am. Through work placements you get to see the theory being played out in the workplace.
For my second year work placement, I am a detached Youth Worker at Maindee Community Centre, Newport. My role is to support young people and to build relationships with them through various activities. These activities are a great way of empowering them to realise their own potential. Empowerment is one of the five pillars of youth work in Wales, along with educative, participative, inclusive and expressive. Any task I undertake with young people incorporates these pillars to encourage their development in becoming independent.
The project at Maindee is funded by Children in Need. To show their appreciation, the young people decided to do a sponsored walk up Twmbarlwm Mountain. This was their opportunity to give back to the charity. Their generosity is the reason why I love the work I do in the community and my involvement has stemmed from this incredible course. The group enjoyed their sponsored walk so much they arranged a community clean up in Maindee and are keen to continue this good work into the future. The work being done at this particular community centre is helping to diminish the stereotypes of young people. This is something I am extremely proud to be a part of.
From working at Maindee I’ve built a network of connections, which have helped me to secure four months part-time work for SEWREC on a social media project. This has given me a boost as the more exposure you get, the more potential you have of securing a full-time job following the course. Once I graduate I see myself doing traditional youth work, like I’m currently doing. I would also like to remain in Wales as there are many different styles of youth work here that you can explore.