Gwenllian and Rhun give an insight into their rewarding roles as youth workers for the Ceredigion Youth Service.
Ceredigion born and bred
Gwen: Having attended Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron before going on to study Childcare at Coleg Ceredigion and later at Aberystwyth University, I started my career working at a nursery. However, I knew eventually I wanted to work with young people and teenagers.
Rhun: At 18, after completing my A-Levels at Ysgol Henry Richard, I decided to pursue my interest in sports coaching, and applied to study sports coaching at a Cardiff University. However, university just wasn’t right for me and I decided to return to Ceredigion.
Gwen: I have worked for Ceredigion County Council for six years. Initially, I was a Road Safety Project Officer; delivering road safety awareness sessions to schools and community groups, car seat fittings, cycle training for pupils, delivering motorcycle safety courses and generally promoting road safety within the community.
In 2015, I applied for a Youth Worker position with Ceredigion Youth Service; the designated Local Authority Youth Service for young people aged between 11 and 25. I felt that I had the skills and experiences, which would be able to support young people and provide them with opportunities to reach their potential.
Rhun: Back in Ceredigion, a work opportunity arose with a local company, Ieuenctid Cambria Youth Ltd. They were seeking a Youth Support Worker to support the delivery of alternative curriculum activities and the Duke of Edinburgh Award to youth groups across the UK. After a period of a year and a half working with Cambria Youth, I found myself seeking career progression, and almost three years ago, I succeeded in gaining a fulltime role as a youth worker with the Ceredigion Youth Service.
Providing support and opportunities to young people across the county
Gwen: I’m an Outreach Youth Worker; supporting young people aged between 16 and 25 to re-engage into education, employment or training. I listen to them and provide one-to-one sessions, tailoring the support around their individual needs.
Rhun: I am the designated School Based Youth Worker for both secondary schools in Aberystwyth. My role involves delivering youth work intervention to young people aged between 11 and 16, who at times may need a little additional support to get the most out of mainstream education. This preventative work is to help support young people find their path and channelling them in the right direction, with the aim of improving their quality of life and future prospects.
This intervention work can take a number of forms, but many young people benefit from developing their skills around managing emotions, motivation, self-esteem, self-worth, personal organisation and developing their own identity.
Proud to be part of our dynamic team
Rhun: Gwen and I are part of a team that consists of 12 other youth workers. As a youth worker, we engage, build and maintain meaningful relationships with young people.
Together, our team provides a number of services; School Based Youth Work, Outreach Youth Work, Youth Clubs, Youth Forum & Youth Council, Holiday Programmes and educational sessions for schools, colleges and universities, focusing on young people’s personal, social and emotional health.
Through this specialised support and open access provision, our team work hard to encourage all young people to reach their fullest potential.
Gwen: For the last four years, Ceredigion Youth Service has ranked in the top three highest performing Local Authority Youth Services in Wales.
It’s also achieved all three Quality Mark standards, awarded by Welsh Government. This year, we were awarded the prestigious Gold Quality Mark Award, one out of only three Local Authority Youth Services across Wales to do so.
Passion for the role
Rhun: As a youth worker you need to be an independent person who can support, advise, guide and advocate on the behalf of young people, and this is what I love about my job. My priority is the young person, and everything I aim to do is done for the benefit of that young person.
I love all aspects of my job, but being able to support young people to develop themselves personally, seeing young people overcome barriers and reach their full potential is what makes my work so positive and rewarding. My work involves using various methods to engage young people in a range of activities, skill-building workshops, personal and social development and accredited learning.
I feel privileged to have a career where I am able to improve the lives of young people, I feel this makes my job truly worthwhile.
Gwen: What I enjoy most about being a Youth Worker is that the role is very rewarding, witnessing young people grow and develop into their adolescence, overcoming personal barriers and achieving their goals. I also enjoy working in partnership with other organisations, such as Careers Wales and the Job Centre Plus. This enables us to extend our offer to young people, ensuring that each young person has the opportunity to flourish.
A variety of aspects to the role
Rhun: My work also extends into the evening, as a Youth Worker at Penparcau Youth Club which runs every Thursday evening between 6-9pm at Canolfan Eos, Penparcau. The youth club provides young people with a safe space to engage with the Youth Workers, relax with their friends and take part in new and exciting opportunities of their choice. In the past, we’ve organised a various activities, cooking, sports, games, arts and crafts are to name just a few. Activities also extend to the community, where we have been mountain biking, to visit the local police station, to the cinema and to play archery.
Gwen: I support young people to create CVs, help them to look for work, coordinate and deliver a range of training courses to increase their future employment opportunities. Youth Work takes a holistic approach, and therefore my work is focused entirely around young people, with every day being different. Recently, I have delivered first aid and food hygiene courses, coordinated taster workshops in bushcraft and work-based learning, mountain biking, volunteering and a range of community projects.
Opportunities to further develop own learning
Gwen: In 2017, I was fortunate enough to gain an opportunity through Ceredigion Youth Service to enhance my learning in the Youth Work sector by studying a Post Graduate Diploma in Youth and Community Work at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen. My aim is to progress to complete my MA in Youth and Community Work which will further benefit my work with young people in Ceredigion.
Rhun: I’ve also been fortunate enough to be given the chance to further my learning and understanding of youth work methodology and am currently studying a Post Graduate Diploma in Youth and Community Work.
Contributing to the development of young people in Ceredigion
Rhun: As a service, we regularly provide young people with different opportunities, which would otherwise, at times may not be available to them.
Raising the profile of youth work
Gwen: Between 23-30 June, Ceredigion Youth Service will be celebrating Youth Work Week, a week dedicated to celebrating youth work all across Wales. During the week our team will be organising celebratory events across all our youth clubs and raising awareness of the service across social media.
Rhun: For more information on Ceredigion Youth Service and the service, activities and events it carries out, head over to our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages at @GICeredigionYS or contact the team on 01545 572352 / firstname.lastname@example.org.