Sixteen-year-old Jack Wilson first volunteered with Youth Focus: North East in 2012, when he joined our Change UR Mind mental health youth board, helping to raise awareness of mental health issues. In August of this year, he joined our team on a full-time basis, taking on the role of Youth Work Apprentice. In his new blog post, Jack reflects on his first few months with the team…
It seems like only yesterday I was starting on the road to my dream career as a youth worker by beginning my Level 2 Youth Work Apprenticeship at Youth Focus: North East.
When I started back in August, even though I had done a work placement here about a year ago, I was still really nervous about starting my new role. I knew there would be new staff I hadn’t met before and it was going to be something completely different from what I had been used to; I switched from home tuition for six hours a week to a 37 hour week job. It was all new and scary to me.
However, as soon as I stepped into the office all of my nerves completely vanished. Everyone was so welcoming, I was shown my new desk and had an induction, and luckily I could remember most of it from last year!
During the first month, I got to grips with the programmes that the organisation delivers and I helped out as and when things popped up. I had one to one meetings with the other staff members to find out more about their roles and how I could help them.
After the first month, everything exploded as I started to properly settle into the job and began to really enjoy it. I loved how I could link what I was doing in the job to what I was also learning about on my training course and vice versa.
I have now been allocated my work plan, outlining the projects I will be supporting over the next six months, as well as who I will be working with. So far, my job has included assisting Development Worker Hannah Shaw with the managing, running and delivering of the various mental health groups and projects we have, including Change UR Mind, My Mind Matters and the Wellbeing Challenge Days.
I have also been working on Talent Match North East with Neil Burke (Regional Development Officer) and Emma Surtees (Talent Match Peer Co-ordinator), the Street Law and Town Planning Youth Engagement Training at Newcastle University with Kevin Franks (Programmes Director) and I have been working alongside Caroline Garrity (Office Manager) to incorporate the ‘vInspired Awards for Volunteers Scheme’ into Youth Focus: North East. I achieved my vInspired awards in early 2013 and I think it will be valuable to set it up here, to reward all the young volunteers for the time and effort they put into our groups and projects.
Alongside all of this I have also been attending my Level 2 in Youth Work Practice training every Friday, delivered by Youth Force. I feel that I have already learned lots from this training and have been able to implement this in my own practice.
Youth Focus: North East is also supporting me through a distance learning NCFE Level 2 in Mental Health Awareness which I am so happy about, as it means I can expand my skills around mental health and hopefully help loads more people in the future with their mental health!
I am really looking forward to the next nine months of my apprenticeship and can already tell that there will be challenges ahead, but what’s there to learn if it’s just all plain sailing?