West Belfast Outreach Worker
Belfast Youth Initiatives

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Alex M

00:01 So my name’s Alex M and my job is as a West Belfast outreach worker and I work for an organisation called Youth Initiatives.

00:11 Two of our main programmes is our 11 to 14s programme called NUTS which stands for Never Underestimate Teenagers and the older group then is called Life Line and it’s, that’s for 15 to 18s.

00:24 I was born in Greenwich in actually in Lewisham South East London and then I moved to China when I was quite young and then I’ve spent the last 10 years in Dublin and then I just moved up to Belfast last year.

00:38 I’ve a very supportive family I guess, my dad was originally a teacher and then he worked, went to work Royal Mail and then he went back to teaching again. When we were in China he was an English language teacher. He’s, he’s very much been involved in the community sector for a long time as well.

00:58 I enjoyed the social side of school. I’m a very people orientated person, enjoyed kind of mixing with different people, and, from different countries or from just different backgrounds and stuff and, I originally was living in Dublin and I was looking to do a university course in Youth and Community work and I had to find a placement for that course and part of that was I suppose trying to find a suitable placement, and I looked on the, I’d looked on the, on a number of different youth websites and things like that trying to find an organisation that I had agreed with the ethos and stuff like that and Youth Initiatives was one that really stuck out to me.

01:38 I had originally done a degree in electronics which is a far cry from what I’m doing now. The first year in electronics I did I kind of quite enjoyed and then a number of key people on the course left, and one of, one of my close friends died at that time as well and, I just stopped enjoying the course actually after that. It was a, it was a party and I’d left earlier and had later got a phone call to say that my friend had been hit by a bus and was in intensive care and this was a huge, I, I just couldn’t do anything, I just literally couldn’t do anything and that was something that really affected the start of the next year without him, for a lot of people and for me it was, it was a sense of losing somebody that was close to you, that you were sharing an experience with you were sharing the unit, as I say the university experience with, and no, I saw it through to the end and got my qualification and everything but it wasn’t something that I overly enjoyed and I ended up going into a job based on those qualifications that again I didn’t really enjoy.

02:46 I actually was only in that job for a short time because, because I was actually the company went into liquidation and that sort of started a cycle of me doing a lot of other things and ended up in me doing youth work. Often people wonder how I manage to make that kind of sort of switch I think, but for me I’d always done a lot of I suppose is it philanthropy is that the word, I suppose, is where, working with people, totally voluntarily and it always happened to be young people and children particularly when I was younger even from a very, very young age, and always that was something that I always got a real buzz out of doing and but I never thought of it as a career path.

03:28 It’s been quite significant moving up to Belfast and it has been a big turning point I say I’ve chosen to go into another education path as well as another career path in youth work, and, I suppose that is probably will be, will, or will prove to be a major turning point in my life maybe three, four years down the line, when I’m a fully qualified youth worker.

Alex M is a West Belfast Outreach Worker for Belfast Youth Initiatives. Originally from London, Alex then lived in China for 10 years before moving to Dublin and, eventually, Belfast. He completed a degree in Electronics, but his heart lay in the voluntary sector, so he decided to join Youth Initiatives and train as a Youth Worker.

More information about Youth and community workers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

25%  male 
75%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Youth and community workers provide support to individuals or groups of individuals through a range of activities or services that aim to encourage participation in social and community life and promote personal and social development.
There are no formal academic entry requirements though a minimum age for appointment between 18 and 21 normally applies. Most qualified youth workers possess an accredited diploma in higher education or postgraduate diploma in youth and community work. A majority of qualifying courses are for people aged over 21 years of age. Background checks including a CRB check are likely to be required.
  • Organises social, recreational and educational activities in local community and youth groups;
  • Undertakes the day-to-day running of community centres and supervises the activities of part-time and voluntary workers;
  • Liaises and supports voluntary workers running groups in village halls, churches, mosques and other places of worship;
  • Advises individuals with particular needs or problems through informal discussion, individual counselling or formal group discussion;
  • Helps set up credit unions, encourages parents to establish playgroups, works with other groups to find solutions to shared concerns or problems.
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