Be Inspired Series
Southern Education and Library Board
What is your role?
I'm a youth officer for social inclusion in the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB) Youth Service. My role is to manage the SELB Youth Service Inclusion Unit, established to help the Youth Service reach its goals in the inclusion of marginalised young people. I'm responsible for the strategic programme of work, staffing and budgets.
What is your educational background?
I studied a diploma in Youth and Community Work at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown from 1983-1985 and then undertook a degree in Community Youth Work from 1993-1995. Currently I'm completing a Masters at Queen's University, Belfast in Diversity and Inclusion in Education, with the focus of my dissertation on The Role of Youth Work in Peace building in Northern Ireland.
How did you get into this area of work?
When I was 17 and still at school I started doing voluntary youth work with the SELB Youth Service. I took part in local youth work training courses and got great exposure to the things youth work offered. Having gained enough experience, I was accepted onto the Youth and Community Work course at Jordanstown. Now I have 25 years of experience, working in a wide variety of children and young people's services.
You are also a member of the CRC, what does this involve and does it help in your role as a youth officer?
As a council member since October 2009, I support and assist the chair of the council in developing policy and provide strategic direction in the effective and efficient performance of its statutory duties. This helps in my role as a youth officer, as I'm kept informed of current issues and have access to a network of people on the board who are a great resource.
What is your favourite aspect of working as a youth officer?
My favourite aspect of work is strategic planning and influencing the direction and development of inclusion work.
As part of my work in this area I recently participated in the AMBIT study-visit delegation to the USA, to study marginalised youth programmes. We visited a wide range of programmes tackling issues of gang violence and intervention programmes designed to address the high dropout rate from the education system. This was definitely a highlight of my career to date.
How would you suggest others go about getting into this line of work?
Anyone interested should get involved in voluntary work with your local youth service organisation and participate in all the training and opportunities that are available.
It's important to build up your experience and aim towards either locally qualified training, or to make this a full- time career apply for professional training at university.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to go to our family mobile home in Newcastle and enjoy spending time with my husband and two children walking along the beach and forest parks. I also love to make my own jewellery, which is a very satisfying and indulging hobby.
At the minute most of my spare time is spent on my Masters course, but I do indulge a little in social networking.