As part of our series about different types of youth work, this week we have an interview with Mildred Talabi, a careers advice youth worker in the UK.
1. What type of youth work do you do?
At Salmon we work with young people from six years old all the way to 26 (with learning disabilities). I work predominantly with the older young people (aged 16-24) who are not in education, employment or training, also known as “NEETs”.
I help them get jobs by assisting with their CVs, giving career advice, and generally exposing them to opportunities and environments that will stretch their imaginations, raise their aspirations and boost their skills levels along the way. I also help out with the 10-13 age group in the general open club sessions on Mondays.
2. What do you do in an average week?
My role consists of the NEET work I mentioned and also managing the communications at Salmon, so my activities is fairly varied. On an average week, I would work the 10-13s club on a Monday until late evening, meet with at least one young person about careers or their CV, update the Salmon Facebook and Twitter (this is a daily activity), reply to emails asking for tours of Salmon (we get a lot of these as our building and the work we do is considered “state of the art”), plan / write / edit news stories for the website……
3. How long have you been doing this type of youth work?
I’ve been at Salmon for just over a year, but I’ve been working with NEET young people (on a less permanent role) much longer in my self-employed work as a careers speaker, writer and blogger.
4. What other types of youth work have you done previously?
My background is media and communications so I don’t consider myself a youth worker at all! Prior to Salmon, the access I had to young people was to go in and give talks at schools, colleges and universities and that was pretty much it. Now it’s full on day-to-day which is very different.
5. What age range do you work with?
Six to 26 at Salmon.
6. What’s unique about your particular type of youth work?
We provide good old-fashioned generic youth work but we also provide specialist opportunities for young people to develop in their areas of choice – whether that’s dance, art, table-tennis, football etc – under the tutelage of our experienced staff, hand-picked for their expertise in each area. We are also a faith-driven youth centre and we seek to communicate the love of Jesus Christ to the young people through our work.
7. What are some of the good things about your type of youth work?
We have a diverse programme of activities, a purpose-built state of the art centre, and most of all, young people say they feel safe here.
8. What are some of the challenges of it?
We don’t always have the financial resources to do all that we would like to in helping to make a difference in the young people’s lives, but we do our best with what we have.
9. Why are you passionate about careers advice?
My personal passion is in helping young people in the area of careers as what you do in your work life is such an important part of your life in general. I get great fulfilment seeing the joy and sense of achievement in a young person’s face when they go through that process of writing out their CV, getting called for an interview, and then landing a job – maybe for the first time ever. That makes my job all the more worthwhile!
10. What would you recommend for someone wanting to get into this type of youth work?
I’m not in a typical youth work role and I didn’t get into it the typical way so in terms of recommendations, I’m going to keep it more general – get some experience under your belt in whatever area you want to get into in your work life.
Youth work is one of those areas, fortunately, where there’s more than enough opportunity to volunteer and build up work experience (at least in our organisation anyway!); take advantage of this and do as much volunteering as you can to boost your CV and make it easier for you to get a paid job in this area down the line.
11. Is there any special training or qualifications required?
In my line of work there are qualifications you can do (like an NVQ in Information, Advice and Guidance) and in youth work there are also qualifications that give you the basic knowledge and training in working with young people. I didn’t go down either of these routes, as I never intended to get into youth work in the first place, but it still worked out just fine.
12. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
About Salmon Youth Centre:
The Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey has been reaching out to young people in inner city London for over a hundred years. We are one of the largest youth centres in the UK with unique purpose-built facilities catering for sports, music, art, performing arts, dance, drama, outdoor climbing, adventure and fitness activities.
At Salmon we provide personal, social, educational and employment development opportunities for young people, and a place where young people can have fun, feel safe and valued, and discover meaning and direction for their lives. Salmon is open five days a week, all year round, and we welcome all young people between the ages of six and 26 from all backgrounds.
Please feel free to use the comments below if you have any questions about careers advice youth work in the UK. If you also do careers advice, we’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments too.
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