Harley

Harley writes about how a big decision in her teens led to a fulfilling role as an apprentice youth engagement worker through User Voice.

I first realised I wanted to get into this type of job when I was on an order myself.

I realised that working with young people was my passion and I was determined to help make some changes to how they are treated within the criminal justice system. After months of not turning up for college and messing around, I realised if I wanted to get where I needed to in life I would have to work hard. So I did just that and achieved AAB in my A-levels and got a place at university to study Criminology. I then decided I would volunteer at the youth offending service I attended. Through that I found out about an apprenticeship on offer which was in conjunction with User Voice.

The main focus of the post is to engage with young people who are involved with services and provide support and peer mentoring, as well as facilitate sustainable client-led groups. I applied and fortunately got the job. I am based at Positive Steps Oldham and work 36 hours a week. My job involves working with hard-to-reach young people and engaging them in services for the best possible way to get them through their orders. I support their needs in things such as education, housing and employment.

My job also involves finding out from young people how services could be improved and what would make them better suited to their needs. It’s an extremely rewarding role, which has seen me visit the national Youth Justice Convention. This showed me just how dedicated everyone at User Voice is to helping change systems to benefit young people and I am very happy to be a part of this.

One of the main reasons I love my job is because I can relate to the young people and see myself in them. It is really rewarding to see them turn their lives around for the better. While I have been working with young people I have seen them go from not wanting to move away from crime, to graduating from college and representing youths at the Youth Justice Convention. Transitions like this are the highlight of my job. I think the role is highly beneficial for young people who are unwilling to engage in services because they feel they are being judged or not listened to. Young people, especially offending, are much more comfortable speaking to someone they have something in common with and somebody they feel understands them. After speaking to the young people I work with I was really overwhelmed to hear what they said about my position.

One of the youths I work with told me that seeing young people in positions like mine gives him role models and people he could relate to – as well as inspiration to go for similar sorts of jobs in the future. I’m really proud!

Taken from Issue 19

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