I hadn’t always dreamt of being a youth worker. I started attending my local youth club from the age of about 8. My mother sent me with the hope it would help me to overcome my shyness which it did helped with, however eventually she resorted to sending me to drama school in a last ditched attempt to encourage me to find my voice – which it did.

At the age of 15, with my new found voice I plucked up the courage to attend another youth club, Tooting Hub which is where I transitioned from youth club member to youth club leader. Following a really bad day at school feeling like my whole world was ending; I attended my youth club and was greeted by a youth worker who was able to transform my day through a smile, some words of encouragement and a hug! In that moment I decided I wanted to be just like her, I wanted to be able to help and support others the same way she did for me. My youth worker supported me through my transition into college and encouraged me to engage in positive activities, including international exchange trips.

I began volunteering as a youth volunteer working one evening per week, supporting with the integrated mainstream and disability youth session. I was then recruited as a part time youth worker, and then within 2 years I became a full time youth worker. Shortly after I became youth worker in charge. 1 year later I was promoted to the centre manager. Following my promotion I then went on to become the area youth worker-in-charge, supporting 6-8 youth activity providers. My manager at the time was a key source of encouragement and inspired me. It was her support and constant determination to take my youth work career to the next level, that inspired me to go to university to become a qualified youth and community worker. I was delighted to get a place at Goldsmiths in London and emerged 3 years later with a degree in Applied Social Sciences, Community Development & Youth-work. After graduating, I applied for the youth support worker role in Lambeth where I progressed onto the role of youth hub coordinator.

Following an organisational restructure, TUPE transferred into Rathbone, where I am now youth service manager, delivering integrated youth provisions for mainstream and young people with additional needs.

Over the years I have had the privilege of working with young people internationally including Atlanta and New York as well as across London. No matter where I am supporting and meeting the needs of young people has always been paramount.

I could not imagine doing anything other than what I do. Being able to support young people’s emotional and social development in an informal setting but through educational processes has helped me build supportive relationships with young people. It is through these relationships that I can facilitate the development of self-confidence, improved aspirations and empathy in young people, preparing them to make a positive contribution to society.

Giving young people access to new experiences and seeing their growth and personal development is the most rewarding part of my job and the reason I am still a youth worker 17 years on.