So a week ago I started a new job. I am now the CAF Coordinator (Gateway) for the same local authority. This has been a massive change for me, but it was a change that seemed to be necessary.
Leaving Youth Work
The first big, and obvious change is that I am no longer a youth worker. That was not an easy decision to take, to move away from the job and profession I have done for 8 years. That I paid Durham University to train me in. A profession that I have fought to protect as a member of the Community & Youth Worker section of Unite the Union.
So had I become disillusioned? Discovered I was in a job I hate? Feared for the future? No. This was a very personal decision, and one that as time goes on and the impact becomes clearer feels less and less heavy inside. Let me explain.
Living with Crohn’s Disease
In February this year the diagnosis of my inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) was changed from ulcerative colitis to Crohn’s disease. Now both diseases attack the digestive tract, causing ulceration which can bleed and cause painful cramps and bouts of diarrhea, however ulcerative colitis is limited to the large bowel, whereas Crohn’s disease is limited to the large bowel (colon) – more information about both conditions is available from Crohn’s & Colitis UK. Now back in 2005 surgeons removed my colon, and although there have been residual issues with the bits of the body that are that tissue and this was mostly controlled with medication, potentially now I could have the cramping, bleeding and other ill effects from an a attack in any other part of my digestive tract. Hopefully the medication I am on will keep the risk of that to a minimum, but it did make me think about my lifestyle.
My Life as a Youth Worker
So in my youth work role I worked 3 evenings a week – so was finishing work at 21.15 – 21.45. It takes about 25 – 30 minutes for me to then drive home from where I was working. Then I needed to get dinner, unwind, and go to bed. Now on those days I tried not to go in until 2pm, and after a period of illness was instructed not to do what in youth work were called ‘3 session days’. That was good for me, but meant I sometimes missed stuff I wanted to do, or felt I needed to do to perform well at my job. I want to emphasise that this was about me, not my employer, who has been very supportive. So Monday – Wednesday I did late nights, then Thursday & Friday normal hours until 37 hours a week were done. The need to unwind though left me tired, sore and not up for doing much at the weekends. This was OK for a while, but long term was a strain on my relationship.
Healthy eating is something that is important to manage any health condition, as well as in life generally, and one of my other issues with the youth worker life style was that it was not conjusive to that. Now there are youth workers (and shift workers) out there who manage it – I didn’t.
So these factors, long term, added up and it was time for a change. In my next post I’ll tell you about what I have discovered since the new job started, including bathroom rotas, evenings and a social life in Chippenham…