Hi, I’m Adrian and I’m a sessional youthworker in the Dursley area team.
In the summer of 2020 my previous contract work had come to an end, due to the impact of COVID-19, so I was looking for something useful to do with myself. I saw an advert from The Door looking for volunteer mentors, having done something similar a few years ago I applied.
When I met Alistair at the interview he suggested I might be good as a youthworker, so I did a couple of taster sessions to see what it was like.
The first one, in October, was in Cam – the regulations at the time meant we could run sessions in the youth centre but were limited to what we could do and had to wear masks and things. I started with a game of pool with a young person. The last time I played pool was probably about 40 years ago when I was at a youth club, and boy was I incredibly rusty!! After that, the group wanted to play Among Us – I didn’t know that game. They explained it was an app I needed to download on my phone, it was amazing to see how youthwork has developed in terms of the tech, but that the principles of what we were doing were just the same. I was sold on being a youthworker!
The tasters had me hooked! Since then, I’ve worked regular weekly sessions in Dursley and Wotton. One that sticks in mind was when a young person and I spent ages making a blow football pitch, with glue and bits everywhere, until we realised that with COVID regulations we weren’t allowed to blow! We innovated, wafting the ball with table tennis bats instead. Youthwork is all about being flexible and improvising, so I’m told! Importantly, I’ve felt really supported throughout, both by my manager, but by others in my team, as well as the wider Door family.
When the restrictions tightened up, I wondered whether we might stop, but then we got sent out onto Detached – walking the streets of Wotton in the rain meeting up with young people wherever they might be (socially distanced of course!). Before Christmas we set up outside the youth centre in the car park – there were lots of parents waiting to pick up kids from Bluecoat School, and young people from Katherine Lady Berkeley School walk through it on their way home. We had lots of boxes of individually wrapped choccies, and big flasks of hot chocolate. It was a brilliant way to spread our message to the local community, engage with young people and tell people who didn’t know us about The Door. We finished the year with a socially distanced, music-less Christmas party!
When the world is going slightly bonkers, having something that you know is going to be there, come rain or shine, is so important. As a youthworkers we can provide that stability and consistency into the lives of young people whose world is being turned upside down at the moment. That continuity creates resilience, it provides an anchor point in the week to build everything else on. And we’re visible – quite literally in our bright orange hats and hi-vis jackets, and rucksacks. The orangeness of our uniforms, think belisha beacon, subliminally registers who we are, what we stand for, and literally is beacon to remind people that The Door really is still open.
As we go into 2021, I’m really excited about being part of this team, this family, at The Door. I’m really hoping that soon we will be able to do what I think of as ‘youthwork’, back being face to face, being able to get out and meet more and more young people. And deep down, I’m really looking forward to being back inside the youth centres, and not out in the cold and rain.
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