At some point everybody has a question they want answering but they’re not sure they want to email me for fear that I may respond with a friendly ‘hello’. Who’d want a conversation after all? Hopefully you’ll find a few answers to questions you may have below. These are questions I’ve been asked before.
What do you do?
Youth Work mainly because that’s what I studied for. This comes in many guises from working in schools as a mentor, running a youth club, and designing and running workshops.
Youth Worker, eh? So you just play all day…
Of course. Life’s that simple. I’d play even more if I didn’t have planning, policies, risk assessments, accounts, and other admin to do. Yes, there’s a certain amount of ‘play’ involved though. I’m working with young people, but often the real joy is seeing them achieve something they never thought possible and being a part of helping them reach that point, so it’s less ‘play’ and more ‘creative collaboration’.
Do you really know what you’re talking about? You’re just a glorified babysitter.
Yes. I’ve had this question, and yes, I’d like to think I’ve got some idea of what I’m talking about after seven years at Uni and more than 17 years working with young people in a variety of settings. Babysitter? No, my qualification is in youth work not childminding. I respect childminders and their work and they respect mine. We each have our skills and place in the world.
Why do you do so many different things?
I like to keep busy but there’s usually one of two reasons. Either someone has said they need something, so I try and work to that brief and provide it or because I’ve thought of something or identified a need and want to create something to fulfil that.
Isn’t youth work dying?
What do you mean by dying? If you mean, have a load of youth workers lost their jobs due to government cuts over the years, yes. If you mean, has it vanished completely? No. In Oxford alone, there are loads of great youth provisions for young people. Not as many as years ago, of course, but some still doing excellent work day in day out, week in week out.
You offer Relax Kids and wellbeing type workshops…BUT you’re a man.
Was my picture really that clear?! I think it’s the stature that tends to give it away too, but yes, you are right. I am male. Your eyes are not deceiving you. In a heavily female dominated world, sometimes our youngsters prefer to work with a male role model, especially boys. Get a boy to engage with relaxation methods, they’ll probably moan. See me rocking up and explaining my experiences and then helping them, they tend to change in an instant.
And then you write plays and stories…
…? I’m not quite sure how you want me to answer. Yes, I’m a creative person who’s been performing on stage since I was 10 years old. I have a passion for theatre. I write, direct, and perform. What’s wrong with that? Young people are often shunned from using their imaginations and being creative. I promote it and I practice what I preach, AND, as adults ‘play’ and being creative is often squashed. I try and draw it out of you!