Suzi balances the challenges of a demanding youth work role with the enjoyment of seeing the positive impact her projects have on young people

How did you get started in the sector?

I completed a diploma in higher education (HE) at the University of Chichester in Youth and Community Work and then went on to study a BA (Hons) degree in Childhood, Youth and Society.

I got my current job at the Sussex Community Development Association by applying directly to the charity.

Volunteering and supporting your community not only helps to build up a diverse range of experiences, it also provides good references for paid posts

What's a typical day like?

I run a small team for youth employability across East Sussex.

I manage a centre, drop-in hub and its employees and volunteers. I also deliver some face-to-face and outreach work. I'm responsible for bid writing and the budgeting for the project. I develop and facilitate a programme of training and delivery to young people aged 14 to 24 in the area.

I’m also the safeguarding lead for young people in the charity I work for.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Seeing the positive outcomes made by the young people who access the projects we deliver.

What are the challenges?

Our challenges are usually the barriers to engagement that the young people encounter. This could be for a multitude of reasons such as:

  • behaviour;
  • disability or learning needs;
  • lack of confidence and self-esteem;
  • lone parents;
  • mental health issues;
  • poverty and lack of access to funding;
  • risk of homelessness.

In what way is your degree relevant?

I feel my degree is extremely relevant to the role, not only from a client/employer perspective and but also from an academic and strategic level, as it has enabled me to effectively write policy, record and share data and apply for funding.

How has your role developed?

I moved from a youth worker post to a charity local to me as I had an interest in the area. My previous role had faced restructure and although I was not made redundant, I could physically no longer manage the requirements of the job as the locality area had spread much further and commuting became difficult.

As a team leader I've become more involved in the setting up, recruiting and facilitating of the projects as well as being responsible for funding.

What advice can you give to others?

Volunteer for youth organisations in your spare time. Volunteering and supporting your community not only helps to build up a diverse range of experiences, it also provides good references for paid posts.

Also, ensure that training around professional boundaries and safeguarding with young people is taken, supported, practised and reflected upon with other professionals. I've witnessed too many young people made vulnerable as they're unaware of professional boundaries.

Finally, look for a professional qualification like an NVQ if you can't commit to a degree. Not only will this equip you with you all need professionally, you'll then be able to look for paid work.

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