Over the years I have held many roles and worn many hats, yet though out everything I have done I have always had an interest in people and helping them to find themselves. Specifically this has been with children and teenagers.
This love for young people started as a teenager when I would help my mum as she ran Bath Opportunity Playgroup. A group for mums to bring their severely disabled children to play and importantly for the mums have a place to meet, drink coffee and have a network of support. My mum showed me what empathy was. How you look at the lives and needs of others and in this case provide a much needed space for children and parents with very specific needs. This taught me so much about how to see individuals but much more, taught me about myself and my place in the world.
As I moved into adulthood I was drawn into youth work by Tony Cook. Tony was setting up and running an night club for under 18’s and for around 5 years it ran 3 nights a week without fail. Tony’s heart for young people and willingness to go the extra mile was incredible. As I think back to how he engaged so effortlessly with the young people and how he invested so heavily int he lives of the young leaders I realise I was around someone who really embodied the qualities I now attempt to emulate in my interaction with all young people.
As I moved from Bath to Essex I found myself working as a youth and children worker in my local church. Although this was a very rewarding job I realised that the context in which I was working with young people was wrong for me. I had started to mentor the occasional young person and this is where I came alive. Seeing the depth of intentional relationship being developed while seeing transformation in the lives of those young people opened my eyes to the power of investing in one to one relationships.
Alongside this I was slowly being drawn towards volunteering for Little Havens, a children’s hospice, and specifically to work alongside the siblings of those children with life-limiting illnesses. I was privileged to have supported several groups on residential breaks of those who were bereaved or pre-bereaved.
The mentoring and the bereavement combined, made connections in my brain that made sense of all the areas of youth work that I loved.