The 24/7 No Nonsense Youth Worker

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Today I would like to share something with you all. I am a qualified youth and community worker who has been working with young people from a diverse background in London. I have worked hard from being a volunteer at my local community centre and then gradually making my way to becoming a full-time Manager within the local authority youth service. Being a women has not been an obstacle for me at all, in fact it was a challenge for me. That does not mean I had an easy journey not at all, on the contrary there were days where I was ready to quit the job and not to  look back but some thing in me said..

“GIRL IF YOU QUIT NOW THEN WHAT EXAMPLE WILL YOU

LEAVE BEHIND FOR THE NEXT GENERATION YOUTH

WORKERS”.    

I am sure you know what I am talking about nonetheless I continued, thus I have the chance  to share this with you today and others that I have been in contact with. Now today is not about me it’s about you, yes you the 24/7 no-nonsense youth worker who eats, dreams and lives  youth work. (don’t deny it you know its you I am talking about)

“24/7 no-nonsense youth worker who eats, dreams and lives  youthwork.”

We want to provide the best service for our young people whether we are centre based workers, detached youth workers or specialist youth trainers. We all have a common goal it’s to see young people do well in their life. Within our day-to-day work we make contact with a huge number of young people from different age group to different backgrounds. We hear stories young people share with us some horrible some pleasant.In some cases we have young people disclosing information about physical, sexual abuse from their parents carers, friends and emotional abuse from bullies in their school. These issues affect the young people that we work with but it also has an adverse affect on us, yet we see that GOOD youth workers put a brave smile and continue to deliver quality work.

My question is what happens when we are not able to deal with

these issues we face?

Do we have any support mechanism in place to safe guard our well-being? do we have some one that we can talk to? Does our organisation has the support mechanism in place if your working for a small 3rd sector charity organisations?. Now I am not here to discuss about policies. I am here to discuss and share some tips that I have used in my professional career as a youth worker. The chances  are you might be already burnt out with out you realising it. I share this as I believe that being aware of our own ability as to what we are able to handle is fundamental to our well-being and self-care. Caring for ourself is properly the most important skill to have as a professional youth worker. This will in doubt contribute to a long healthy career.

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Below I have listed 5 strategies that have worked for me as a youth worker/manager.

Develop an individual plan of action.

This can be a very hard task to do but believe me it’s well worth the time and effort you put in as this will be an opportunity to reflect on your own ability and coping mechanisms. Of the i hear from other colleagues that they don’t know how or where to begin from. Spend some quality me time and develop a plan on the following areas.

Physical

example will be that i want to keep my self  fit and go to the gym once a week

mental

I will seek support when I am not able to

Social

I will be active in my social life and make time to spend with my friends and family.

Emotional

Learn To Relax. For a short while a day, simply relax, let everything go, and look at the situation from another level. This will help you reflect on what’s going on in a different angle.

Spiritual

Meditate for at least 15 minutes every day. If you do not know how to meditate, it is easy to find books, websites for more information.

On each of the headings write a paragraph using the five SMART goals to form a structure for you to develop further. The more specific you are the more chances are that you will be able to achieve them. I have given some examples so that you can see what I am saying.

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Get A Mentor. 

I can’t emphasise the importance of having a mentor. I believe this is key to anyones development regardless of what profession your from. Having a mentor can help in many ways that you might not think of. Ideally my advice will be to have a mentor from some outside of your work but someone from the same field of work as you are. The mentor should be able to give you honest advice and tell you how it is and not sugar coat it to make it sweet.

Plan Your Holidays In Advance. 

As youth workers we are so into our work that we leave the planning of our holidays right at the bottom of our To-Do-:List. Now this may not be the case for you if so well done you’re doing well. But i have come across many colleagues including my self falling into that category. Plan and ensure that you take your leave. The annual leave is there for a reason so plan in advance and put your feet up and relax.

Say No More Often Than Yes. 

I remember my early days as a volunteer and part-time youth worker i use to attend all the meetings and involved in projects. I did this because I was hungry for knowledge and wanted to support and help everyone and anyone working for the community or young people. But I realised few years down the line that i can’t be everywhere and do everything as this really impacted on the quality which started to stress me out. I found it hard to say no when some one approached me for help. Trust me know your limits and learn to say no more often rather than trying to take everything on.

Become Socially Active. 

Being a youth worker is a an awesome and more importantly an enjoyable profession or career to have. On the other hand it is also the most hardest job anyone can have. The reason is that we are working human being and they have emotions, feelings, desires and come with a lot of baggage. There are youth workers who will go to the moon and come back for young people but hey you need to draw line. Find something to do in your spare time out side of work such as hobbies, sports or even blogging if you up for it. This will help you in the long run to feel that your human.

Now in no way I am saying that these are the only way, There are other ways I am sure you will find that you can implement, This has helped me in my career and kept me from not losing focus of the work. If this helps you please use it and share it with others. If you want to contribute and have ideas that will help others. Please leave your comments and ideas below. If you feel that you want to contribute then please come join us and sign up to our quest to inform, educate and empower other youth workers.

By: Shazia Mansoor

Youth and community Development worker 
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