This month, we caught up with Erin, a Youth Worker here at Groundwork, to see what she gets up to in a typical week!
What’s life like as youth worker?
I am a Young People and Social Action Assistant for Groundwork Greater Manchester’s youth team, which means I lead and support a variety of youth-led social action projects with young people aged 11-17 across Greater Manchester. I support these groups to develop their own projects, starting with identifying something they think could be improved in their community – this could be anything from creating green spaces to increasing safety in the area. Together, we figure out how to make this happen. Young people learn how to; work in a team, listen to the community, budget, allocate roles within the group and most importantly find their voice!
I have been in this role for just over a year and continue to learn every day. I studied Textile Design at University and am always making art and crafts in my own time. I am a Freelance Arts Facilitator, alongside my role at Groundwork. I try to feed this creativity into my projects as much as possible, usually giving young people the opportunity learn a creative skill whilst we discuss the next thing on the agenda for our project!
What does a typical week look like as a youth worker?
My working week is very varied! I work part-time and usually have around 3 consistent sessions delivering project work across GM, in places such as Stockport, Hattersley and Central Manchester. To compliment these sessions, I am often designing resources, whether it be a ‘how to write to your MP’ guide or ‘key facts about Climate Change’.
In my regular sessions I could be supporting young people to develop their own community projects, visiting a school to help young people make their playground greener, or could even be supporting young people to design and paint a mural for a public space. Each project is unique, helping me to develop a whole range of skills. In every project I come across inspirational young people!
Sometimes, other projects arise that allow me to work with other age groups. For example, I have had the opportunity to utilise my textile skills to teach adults how to mend and upcycle their clothes as a way of preventing textile waste.
What has been a recent highlight in your job?
Recently, I had the delight of working with Stockport Girls Group in collaboration with local youth network, R Time. We embarked on a 12-week project with an aim to make Stockport Safer. The girls blew me away with their ideas and constant enthusiasm!
The problem they all shared was lack of equality, as girls, they felt disadvantaged and therefore not as safe. Most of the group have a passion for football but felt there wasn’t enough opportunity for girls to get involved. Their solution was to plan and deliver ‘Stockport Girls Safety Day’. The main event was a 5 aside girls and women’s football tournament with gazebos surrounding the football, holding various organisations that promote safety and mental health.
The girls realised the impact they can make when they come together and work as a team. The event was a success and a day to remember for them and me!
What inspires you to do you work?
On every project, I have had the privilege of meeting determined, kind and interesting young people and adults. These people may not have very much materially, but what they do have are big hearts and ideas. They look out for and champion their community, they inspire me and keep me motivated to do my work.
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