February 6, 2020

Esther Youth & community work student

My journey into youth work has been really exciting and rewarding. I still can’t quite believe the journey I have had! The thought of going back to education was quite daunting. I was worried whether I would have enough time to fit in study in an already busy lifestyle as a mother of three? Would I have the motivation and ability to see the course through? I began with studying an Introduction to Youth Work, which gave me a taste for studying again and helped me resolve any doubts and questions I had after discussing my fears with my tutor. I then progressed onto studying the Level 3 Foundation Certificate and I’m now in the first year of the BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work… and haven’t looked back.

I can honestly say without the support and encouragement I have received from my lecturers and fellow students I wouldn’t be where I am today. This has been significant to me continuing onto the degree. Being taught in a way that allowed me the freedom to think and question things has helped me develop an academic mindset.

Esther BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work student
The Foundation Certificate helped me gain confidence in reflective writing and thinking, preparing and delivering presentations, and working on group projects.

As part of the Foundation Certificate course you need to be actively working in a youth work setting with young people and accumulate 100 placement hours. This links in the level 2 and 3 adult learning wales qualification and allows you to progress on to the BA (Hons). The University organises a Placement Fair that students can go to at the beginning of the course and I took full advantage of this. Our tutors advised us on how to make a good impression to employers at the Placement Fair, and this really worked for me, as I was able to choose from three different employers that were interested in offering me a placement. 

My placement was in Pentrebane Zone, where I was involved in a youth club with a group of 30-40 young people between the ages of 9 and 18. I was doing activities with them such as table tennis, outdoor sports, crafts, and cooking. One of my tasks on the Foundation Certificate required me to lead a 20 hour project with a small group of young people at my placement. This was a highlight as it helped me to build a rapport and relationship with the young people. I was able to use cooking which I love doing and partner it up with befriending and engaging with the young people. Through doing this project I gained confidence in interacting with young people in different ways, as well as teaching and encouraging them how to prepare the food. I was able to introduce different cultural foods to them and gave them the opportunity to explore different cultures though food.

This placement helped me secure my first youth work employment! My supervisor was extremely helpful and accessible throughout and when I completed the 100 placement hours I was offered my first paid position as a youth worker. It’s been wonderful to continue working with the young people at Pentrebane Zone and see them fulfil their potential.

I love making a difference in young people’s lives, empowering them to be a useful and positive member of society.

Having progressed to the BA I can hardly believe the journey I have had! Five months into the first year of my degree and I have gained a second paid employment role with an exciting new project with ACE Place, where I engage young people in street based work in Fairwater Cardiff. This is another exciting opportunity to work with colleagues with a range of experiences and abilities and learn new skills and share best practice. I am quickly building a portfolio of work experience which has taken me by surprise.

My love for youth and community work has really grown as I have experienced the impact a good youth worker can make in society. I feel privileged to be able to influence young people and the Foundation Certificate course empowered me to unveil some hidden valuable qualities that are needed in the youth work field. I am now thoroughly enjoying my degree studies and feel excited for my future in youth work!