My name is Monique Westcarr. I am currently the Youth Project Officer at YMCA St Paul’s Group, based at YMCA Walthamstow in East London. This is the second instalment of my weekly blog and I will be sharing some tips for those working with young people to use in our job roles.
Tips for youth workers
#1 – Practice Empathy
We’ve all been young and had moments where we have felt that adults haven’t really taken any time to understand us and what we’re saying or what we’ve been through and in turn have jumped to conclusions because they haven’t taken the time out to really understand you. As youth workers, we can all have judgemental thoughts about the teens we work with at some moment in time. The key to overcoming this is to not assume. There is great value in building and maintaining healthy connections with all young people we work with. Empathy allows us to create and maintain connections.
#2 – Get involved!
Start to get involved in what your young people do and like. For instance, do they enjoy art, writing or sports? Then put on a drop-in session or create some themes around these things and actively take part with them. So, getting actively involved with these sessions shows the young people that you acknowledge their interests, which in turn gets them excited about sessions and constantly looking forward to them.
#3 – Learn from your young people
If you ever get a creative block, or run out of ideas, just talk to your young people. They are your most treasured resource. In my years of working with young people, I’ve learned that sometimes, us leaders do not always have the best ideas for our activities and sessions. So next time you’re low on ideas, try asking some of your young people what they would like to do, or see happen in your setting and they might just help you break through that block.
Suggested further reading on working with young people and youth work in action can be found here.
In my third blog I will be sharing some practical tips for use during quarantine/lockdown.