Charlotte Tidbury is a professionally qualified youth worker, working as a Peer Facilitator on NYA’s My Money Now programme where she uses her youth work skills to deliver financial capability training to young apprentices. In this blog she describes her journey as a youth worker, from study to practice.
My youth work degree
I studied Youth Work and Community Development at De Montfort University in Leicester. When I was in the sixth form I knew that this was the course I wanted to study because I really enjoyed working with young people. I had lots of experience of helping out at local youth clubs and children’s clubs that I really enjoyed being a part of.
A key benefit of my course was that it was JNC recognised, which meant it was assessed by NYA for suitability and importantly contained work placements to put my knowledge into practice.
I was really excited by the opportunity to have placements in different youth work settings. I had three placements throughout my time at university where I worked as a learning mentor in a school and as a youth worker in a YMCA hostel and in a community centre. They were all very different from each other which meant I gained lots of experience and knowledge in different areas.
I also really enjoyed the conversations and debates we had in lectures. We explored lots of topics that I had never thought about before and I really felt like my eyes had been opened to what goes on in the world and other people’s experiences. I particularly enjoyed the ‘Black Perspectives’ module where we looked at the experiences of black communities and the injustices they face. I learnt a lot about the disparities within the education system for black and white students, and within society as a whole. These discussions helped me to become stronger in my practice as I was more informed about other people’s life experiences.
When I first graduated I was looking for a job that would combine two of my passions – working with young people and travelling the world. I came across youth staff jobs on cruise ships, which involve engaging young people in activities and games so I applied for this and went off to work on a cruise ship for a few months. I got to travel around the Caribbean and visit some beautiful places, as well as working with children and young people aged from 6 months – 11 years old.
Once I got home from working on the cruise ship, I decided I wanted a job that had more routine. I saw a role advertised with the NYA for a Peer Facilitator where I would be able to deliver training to young people and travel across the UK. This really appealed to me as I didn’t feel I was suited to a 9-5 job where I was sat at a desk all day. I much prefer being up and about and working face to face with young people.
Improving my practice
Working on the My Money Now project has definitely made me a more confident deliverer as it has given me a lot more experience. One of the benefits of working with the young people on a short term basis is that it has meant I have had the opportunity to deliver in lots of different centres.
I have also had to learn new ways of dealing with challenging behaviour as this occasionally crops up in the training sessions. There can be difficulty in finding the balance of being an informal youth worker when delivering a session in a formal environment.
I have also had to think on my feet a lot in this role and adapt the sessions to make them accessible for each group of young people. This is really valuable experience that I think will be really useful in my future youth work roles.
I’ve also found that it’s really important to be as open minded as possible as you will meet a lot of different people as a youth worker and it is vital to meet people where they are at, with no judgement, respecting their views and beliefs and not forcing your own onto others.