As a nurse who primarily looks after adults, I have always been intrigued to learn more about those who help care for our younger members of society. In particular, the youth who are vulnerable and for a variety of reasons may need support, guidance and for somebody to believe in them. This week I was lucky enough to learn first hand from April, a youth support worker, what her career is all about why she entered the support work industry.
1. Tell us a little about your background and why you decided to become a Youth Support Worker?
I began thinking about youth work around 21. I didn’t really know what it involved or what I would be doing day to day, but I did know I wanted to make a difference in people's lives.
I was personally bullied through the last few years of high school and had to see a counselor. She helped me through so much and I wanted to be able to help the next group of young people. Teaching them the coping skills to get through what is a difficult time in their lives.
2. What kind of work do you do on a day-to-day basis with your young clients?
I currently have 3 jobs in youth work which all involve very different day-to-day duties. The one thing they all have in common however, is making the young persons day/week or life that little bit better.
Some day to day tasks might be helping with homework, bullying strategies, talking about issues they might be struggling with, cooking, cleaning, sports. Providing that young person with someone who really cares for them and is in it to help make a better life for them.
3. What strategies do you use to build rapport with a new client?
Jokes and banter is a good way to start, using games and talking about their families and friends. If you sit down like a counseling session it’s going to be hard to get anything out of a young person, so involve fun activities you can do while getting them engaged and talking about things they like. This will show them you’re interested in what they have to say and you care.
4. Why did you choose to work with Edmen in comparison to other agencies?
Edmen seemed like a caring and passionate company that really cares for their employees.
5. What has your experience been like working with Edmen?
I have had an amazing experience with Edmen at all levels of interactions I’ve had. Whether that be management, other staff and even the young people I’ve been helping. Management also does a great job of taking care of their staff and check in on how everyone is doing all the time. They make me feel like a really important staff member.
6. What’s your favourite memory as a Youth Support Worker with Edmen?
I like the small things. So for me, the memory of one night where I was at a house watching a movie on Netflix, eating popcorn, having a laugh with the young person and another staff member is something I can remember vividly.
7. What impact do you feel you have on your client’s lives?
I think the clients already come from a difficult place. They’re used to people giving up on them, others coming and going all the time. So the impact I have is the care for that client and to show someone you’re not going to leave and you want the best for them. In my opinion, this is a positive impact they may not have got in their family and home life and showing this is possible can work wonders for their future.
8. How do you recommend other Youth support workers wind down after a busy shift?
My number 1 recommendation is this; if an incident has occurred, talk to your other youth workers to get it off your chest. It really helps with being able to work through it.
Some other suggestions are go for a drive, sit at a lookout, have some down time with yourself and enjoy your own company in a quiet environment - preferably outdoors, but that’s sometimes hard if you are working nights.
9. What advice do you have for people considering becoming a Youth support worker?
Be happy, be passionate (no one liked the teachers in school that seemed like they hated their job), be positive, smile, get on the young person's level, don’t act like “staff” - be more like a friendly person who cares rather than an authority figure. As a general rule, young people hate being told what to do and will often do the opposite. Interact as much or as little as they want, show them new things, teach them new things, be interested in them and ask questions.
10. Would you recommend Edmen to other people looking to work in the industry? If so, why?
Definitely! I think they are a great company to work for and treat staff with a lot of care. They have always provided me with ongoing work, obviously if and when it becomes available. If anyone were to ever ask me about getting into the industry, Edmen would be recommended for sure.
How lucky we are to have the selfless support and care from youth support workers like April. We hope this interview gave you a little insight into how incredible this group of healthcare workers are.
Registered Nurse - Emergency
Co-founder The Other Shift