What are your areas of special interest / particular skills?
I am currently employed as a Young Persons’ Caseworker with Barod and I absolutely love it!
I am a qualified Youth Worker with over 11 years’ experience as well as experience within the Social Housing Sector. My experience has included: running youth clubs, mental health support, peer mentoring, youth offending service, careers and education (including pupil referral units (PRU’s), outreach, detachment and substance misuse. Majority of my time I have been working with young people from challenging backgrounds and with complex needs.
What do you enjoy most about your role with Barod?
My role varies from day to day and each day is never the same. For example: I am a caseworker, which means I have a caseload of young people whom I see on a one-to-one basis. Here I am able to provide tailored support that suits their needs and I will help create a plan with the young person to help them on their journey.
I then may be out within the Community in schools, providing education and advice on substance use and information on ways to keep safe- I will talk about trends in local areas and offer opportunities for people to ask questions. I also attend youth clubs and provide brief sessions and bring along the fascinating drugs boxes!
Also, I provide training to professionals- ‘basic substance misuse’ and ‘talking too and working with young people who take substances’. I love to run this training as I get to meet numerous professionals with lots of experience and knowledge- and I personally, love to learn and love to spread awareness.
Plus, I help out with campaigns on behalf of Barod, attend lots of training and meetings and get to speak with others in the community- it really is a mixed bag every day!
Every aspect of my role brings excitement and I love working with Young People- I also learn from them too and have learned that it’s ok to not know everything as you learn as you go in life!
What is it like to work in your area of Wales or in your specific service?
I am based in our Aberdare office which is central to some parts of the RCT community- however I cover the entirety of Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr- which is a huge patch of our beautiful valley and I love it.
I get to meet people from all walks of life with completely different backgrounds, experiences and challenges. It is a challenge living in a rather remote hard to reach area, particularly higher up in the valley, but I am able to meet the young people locally in a safe and public place; so they are never at a loss of being able to access our service.
We sometimes meet in Mcdonalds (where service users can have a milkshake!) or a café and in schools, community centres and in homes- we do what we can to ensure we give service users the chance to meet and speak with us and get the support they want.
Please tell us about your average day.
My day consists of having one-to-one appointments with either initial assessments or just continued support. These are tailored to suit the individual young person based on the information they provide.
I may go out in the community and do a school chat on substance use, or meet with other professionals regarding updates and changes in the community- or putting plans in place to help keep children and young people safe.
Sometimes I attend child protection conferences and core groups to help maximise safety of young people in regards to their risks around substance use.
To add, I may spend a day training professionals about working with young people who take substances and how to talk to young people about substances- or just basic substance misuse awareness.
Once a week, the young persons team hold a meeting called a JAM (Joint Allocation Meeting) and this is where we discuss incoming referrals as a team to see who would be best placed to work with the young person. Here we work with Social Workers, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the Youth Offending Service (YOS) workers and is a great opportunity to network and signpost young people.
We also provide concerned other support to those who are worried about a loved one’s substance misuse.
And, attend events/campaigns in the community as well as conduct outreach to young people in the community.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
It has to be: There is no change without a challenge (my own personal saying) as well as: If today is your absolute worst day ever, then tomorrow can only be better! Never never never give up!