My name is Joanne Kendrick and I am in the second year of the MA Youth and Community Work at Cardiff Met. I gained a passion for working with young people ten years ago when I was delivering sexual health information and advice to young people in local schools and the community, after studying an Adult Nursing degree and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. I realised how much I enjoyed this role and chose to study a Level 3 qualification in Youth Work and I soon changed my career path to become a youth worker.
During this time, I worked on many different projects with young people including open access and targeted work. It felt as though I had found my niche in life, it is amazing to support young people and witnessing their development is extremely rewarding.
Around three years ago I needed to resign form my full-time job due to personal circumstances. Both of my children had recently been diagnosed with autism and my daughter had also been diagnosed with a physical condition which needed surgery, so I needed to be there full-time for my family. During my time away from work I felt totally lost and even though it was lovely to be there for my children, it felt like a part of me was missing. I then made the decision that I wanted to return to youth work, the job I love, and the best way to do that was to apply for the MA in Youth and Community Work.
I made the application to Cardiff Met and was called along for an interview with one of the tutors. All of the tutors were really supportive and friendly, and the course sounded amazing.
The course modules in the first year were interesting and covered all the relevant information that I needed to link with practice. Regular reflective practice, support from tutors and from my fieldwork facilitator, assisted my journey of working with young people and I was able to demonstrate clear progression throughout my portfolio. The staff at the university are always happy to help, very knowledgeable and they always respond to emails and phone calls, going above and beyond to ensure that they can support you in the best possible way. The students in my year are all very supportive too and they each bring something different to the classroom where we are encouraged to chat and share our experiences in a safe place.
In the first year, I undertook a work placement in my local area. I loved working with young people and being part of a team again, it was amazing to see the progression of young people over a period of months and that they valued the work that we were delivering. The work with this group of young people is continually reviewed and adapted to fit their needs and issues that are important to them, allowing for group work activities and one to one support. I was lucky enough to secure part-time work with this project following my placement and feel that studying the MA assisted me in gaining the confidence and the knowledge to implement quality youth work in practice.
I have also been successful in securing the role of Lead Youth Worker at a local youth club. This is an open access youth provision which is run during the evenings, it is great that the young people have a safe space to call their own and to direct elements of the work we do at the club. The young people are encouraged to take ownership of this space and to continually take an active role in the development of the club, bringing ideas forward for future sessions. The knowledge I gained from studying the MA gave me the confidence to apply for this position, and allowed aspects of theory to come forward during the interview.
I am also a lead youth worker for a charity called One Life. I was approached by the chair person for the charity, who was looking for an experienced youth worker to set up an autistic friendly youth club. These types of specialised youth provision were lacking within our area, however understanding the difficulties young people can face with autism, I was willing to take on the challenge and successfully initiated one of the first autistic friendly youth clubs in the area. The youth club is structured differently to other clubs and allows parents and carers to support young people during the club opening times. I am responsible for writing policy documents, sourcing and managing staff and fundraising for the provision. Many of my assignments for the first year of the course were written from the experiences I had gained from this setting and this linked in nicely to aspects of theory that we studied.
I honestly think that starting this course has given me my confidence back and has prepared me to return to the world of work, in a job I love doing. I now have the confidence and knowledge to implement quality youth work in practice, thanks to the MA. Cardiff Met is a great place to study and I am excited about my final year of study and what further experiences this will be bring.