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youth worker outside in front of a tree

03 November 2021

Lukasz Konieczka, Executive Director at Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons’ Trust

What got you into youth work?

I didn’t plan my career to be in youth work. I studied social work at university then I moved over to the UK to work as social worker, but got a job as a Head of Activities at a nursing home. I wanted a job based in London and that’s when I came across a role working with queer young persons and I got so excited. An opportunity to work with my community was like winning the lottery!

youth worker outside a building

Then, when I first stepped into that job, I hated it. I come from a strict background and I really couldn’t find my feet in informal education. Working with young persons was also very different to working in a care home. Then I started learning and adjusting my approach. I started to realise what mattered and I fell in love with this work and never looked back.

How long have you been working with young people?

Fifteen years.

What makes youth work special?

Youth work should teach young people critical thinking. I think it’s about showing young persons different perspectives and making sure they’re developing their social skills; the things schools don’t have the capacity for today.

I think LGBT+ youth work has a specific role because isolation and loneliness among LGBT+ people is a huge issue. A young person could go to a school of 2,000+ young people and still feel like they’re the only gay person or only trans person there which is statistically impossible. LGBT+ community spaces are vital as they not only reduce isolation, but are able to teach young persons about the LGBT+ community, its history, heritage, culture and activism helping them build sense identity and belonging.

What makes a good youth worker?

A good youth worker is a curator of memories. A young person will say ‘remember when we went here?’ or ‘remember when we did this?’ We can give them opportunities to interact with one another. It’s important that we create a space that is inclusive of all.

youth worker laughingHow did you adapt delivery during lockdown?

During the pandemic, youth work came into its own. Agility is a value of our organisation. When lockdown was announced, we started delivering services online within 24 hours, and within 48 hours we had a plan for all activities – every single day of the week has something scheduled.

We came up with things to see if they worked out and based on what the young persons were asking for. They asked for a Discord server and it carried on developing from there. We trialled different things as lockdown rules changed. We had mentoring sessions online, we did cycling trip, we did a ghost tour of London for Halloween. We knew that this was a test for us; if we’re not here for young people now then what are we actually here for?

Celebrating London’s #CommunityChampions

To mark Youth Work Week 2021 (1-7 November), London Youth is taking the opportunity to celebrate youth workers. The work they do makes a huge difference to the lives of young people across the capital. Youth workers are the unsung heroes of our communities. These are the community champions we want to spotlight this week.

Across our network of over 600 community youth organisations, there are thousands of youth workers who are champions for their communities. With young people’s lives massively impacted by the pandemic, youth workers are playing a vital role in supporting a generation to be the best they can be.

Our #CommunityChampions campaign spotlights the youth workers transforming the lives of young Londoners.

You can find out more about Mosaic LGBT+ Community Trust here >

Read more from our #CommunityChampions here >

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