I had my little boy when I was 17 – it was a huge shock, having responsibility for a child. He was born in July straight after my GCSEs. As I was so young I had the help of a teenage support worker who gave me a lot of guidance and to be honest, made me what I am today.
I went to college and started volunteering, working with a young parents’ group and girls involved in risky behaviour; using my experiences to get through to them. I loved it and it really worked – one girl who I worked with, changed her behaviour and started supporting other people. It was a great feeling.
I applied for the NYA apprenticeship even though I was suffering from real anxiety problems. I had to push myself to do it but I did, and was delighted when I heard I’d got it.
It’s going great. I’m supporting young people to get involved in social action in their communities on the Social Action Journey Fund. We also help them apply to Think Big for funding and support them afterwards. We ask them what they’d like to change about where they live – they all have ideas and they’re really motivated to improve things.
The studying is going well too. I was struggling at first but it’s getting easier the more I do. I had six years’ experience of youth work from my volunteering but virtually no knowledge about it, so it makes sense to bridge that gap.
I’d definitely encourage people to do a youth work apprenticeship – it’s been a
really positive experience here at NYA.
Nicola is a youth work apprentice on the Social Action Journey Fund programme