New Job

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…

#oneaday, Day 84, Choose Youth

Today is the Choose Youth lobby of Parliament. Choose Youth is a coalition of over 30 organisations who want to see youth services and youth work preserved in England. I can’t attend due to work commitments, but this is really important. I went to the first Choose Youth event in Birmingham, and it was amazing to hear young people’s stories of how youth work has affected their lives.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has today produced a report showing the extent to which education spending is being cut across the country – and youth services are taking the brunt with an estimated 20% cut – much more in some places. Unite the Union estimates that 1 in 5 youth clubs will close across the country.

So today, please ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 1013 and show the minister that the government must intervene to save youth services – which he has said there is no plan to do.

#oneaday, Day 39, The Choose Youth Rally

This weekend, I went up to Solihull to steward at the national Choose Youth rally. This was a number of organisations and trade unions coming together to make a noise about the threats to youth services around the country – both local authority and voluntary sector.

This was the biggest rally I have attended in my time as a trade unionist – over 1000 people. And it was a very diverse group. 120 young people had travelled up from Devon. There were pensioners from the Midlands. Youth workers, youth work lecturers, trade unionists, MPs, councillors and more.

The event looked very impressive. Big video screens meant you could see everything that was going on wherever you were in the massive hall. There were activities to take part in, performances and some great testimonies from young people as to why the youth service should be kept.

A couple of my favourite quotes from the day:

£6 billion awarded in bankers bonuses would fund youth service in England and Wales for 22 years

‘I walked out in the student walkout protests. My teacher asked where I was going. I said I was hoping to go to university.’

“we have a saying in my school, doing a Clegg, it’s when you say one thing and do another”

You can view footage of the rally here, join the campaign on Facebook, and see what others have said by looking at the #chooseyouth hashtag on Twitter.