Youth Workers’ community contributions praised during Youth Work Week in Wales
Youth Workers in communities up and down Wales have demonstrated the value of their skills with the work they have done during the coronavirus pandemic.
That is the view of Hayley Douglas, a senior lecturer in Youth and Community Work at Wrexham Glyndwr University, who has marked Youth Work Week Wales by praising the work being done across the country by youth workers. Youth Work Week in Wales – which runs until June 30 – allows people to see and celebrate the work youth workers do.
Among them is Sian Pierce, who is studying on the MA Youth and Community Work programme and is the Area Youth Worker for East Conwy – covering towns and villages including Kinmel Bay, Abergele, Llanfair Talhaiarn, and more.
As a result of Covid-19 and the temporary closure of youth clubs since March, Sian has been working with colleagues to support young people online – and finding ways to boost their well-being at a critical time.
She said: “Covid-19 has not stopped youth work – although all face-to-face provisions have closed following government guidelines, I continue to support young people through telephone conversations and various social media platforms.
“I have been actively involved in seeking activities that young people could be doing from the comfort of their own homes, and each day different activities are posted online – ranging from arts and craft, cooking and interesting and useful websites where they can access information”
“Working alongside my colleagues, I have been working on activities to encourage young people to complete the ‘five ways of wellbeing’ from home in the hope we can support their physical and mental wellbeing during this difficult time.”
Sian has also found other aspects of her role changing, as Conwy Council adapt their working processes to support residents across the county and help them access vital support.
She added: “In addition to supporting young people, I have also been working on the community support line for Conwy County Borough Council.
“Working on the telephone, I speak directly to members of the public who are need of support of food shopping or collecting prescriptions. Therefore, I am not only continuing to support young people but due to the current pandemic, I am also involved with supporting the wider community.”
Sian has credited her studies for helping to prepare not only for the work she has been doing online – but also for the wider roles she has helped fulfill over the past few months as she has assisted with the pandemic response in Conwy.
She said: “My studies at Glyndwr have definitely been helpful with the work I’ve been doing. “In one module at university, we discussed ‘what is youth work’ and, reflecting on the work I completed then, it made me think how the skills and capabilities that I have as a youth worker can be adapted to this current situation.
“Youth work requires the following skills set – excellent verbal communication skills, sensitivity and understanding and the ability to work well with others; customer service skills, patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations; being thorough and paying attention to detail; active listening skills and a non-judgemental approach.
“All those skills are still being utilised in the work I’ve been doing – whether that has been through speaking to the young people via the telephone or via social media or when answering calls on the community support line.”
Senior Lecturer in Youth and Community Work, Hayley Douglas, said: “When we were looking to mark Youth Work Week this year, we knew we’d be doing it in a different way – because Youth Work itself is being done in a different way. So while many of the events and celebrations this year will be online, there is still much to celebrate in the work so many youth workers are doing up and down Wales.
“We aim to teach resilience and flexibility to our students as part of our Youth and Community Work courses here at Wrexham Glyndwr University, and seeing our students apply the skills they have learnt over the past few months – in often very challenging situations – has been wonderful”
“I’d like to thank Sian – and everyone who is working in roles like hers – for all the work they have done to keep their communities safe over the past few months. It really has demonstrated just how important the skills they develop are.”
To find out more about Wrexham Glyndwr University’s MA in Youth and Community Studies (JNC), visit: https://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/Postgraduatecourses/YouthCommunityStudies/ – this course is for those who already hold a Joint National Qualification (JNC) but the university also has a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses covering Youth and Community work.
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