Youth Worker
Belfast Youth Initiatives

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Lynda W

00:02 My name is Lynda W. I’m a youth worker that specialises in creative arts and community relations and I work for Youth Initiatives

00:09 I volunteered with Youth Initiatives and with the project that I work for which is called Crosslinks and I’ve volunteered with them since I was sixteen and I was a dance student and then I went to uni and then whenever I graduated from uni there happened to be two part-time jobs that came up within Youth Initiative and one was for the girls’ worker and then one was for the Crosslinks creative arts project and so I interviewed for the two and was able to get both jobs so it created a full-time job here.

00:35 We run a creative arts module course on a Monday night where we have young people from fourteen to twenty who come from East Belfast, West Belfast, Chinese community and from the Indian community and they come together and they would do drama, dance, music and art.

00:50 You, you work when other people don’t, so you’re working a lot of nights because the young people are at school during the day, you have to work when they’re available, so you’re working some weekends, you’re working nights um and especially if you’re in a sort of mentoring pastoral role which a lot of youth work is, then you could be getting texts or phone calls at sort of ten o’clock at night, if something’s gone wrong or if they’re feeling low.

01:10 GCSEs I took art, which is probably quite relative now, A levels, my A levels were biology, RE, art and English. Even though necessarily my subjects may not be completely relevant to what I’m doing now, very specifically, I think that education in general, it gives you a confidence, it gives you an awareness of what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.

01:33 And then I took a gap year, so during my gap year I travelled to, I actually worked for, sort of volunteering for this project for five months and then went to Kenya with a charity for two weeks and then spent four months in Mexico where I worked for a sort of community centre and I ran art classes for after-school clubs for kids in the inner cities, for street kids and inner city kids in Mexico City. Probably one of the best things I’ve ever done, it was really challenging, it helped me grow a lot. I had to learn just very quickly, one the language and then also um just sort of running and doing more youth work in, in a school with a language that you don’t know, so you learn very quickly how to relate to young people that maybe you have no necessarily, you know, no background and similarities with.

02:18 I’m actually from East Belfast um but I now work in West Belfast. I was part of the East Belfast project of Crosslinks so I’m involved in the East Belfast side of things and I’ve now worked moved across and I’m working in West Belfast.

02:31 I think it’s actually quite significant that a lot of, a lot of the young people here, they wouldn’t know that I’m Protestant. First off because I’m working with, you know, a very Catholic area, with Catholic young people um and some of them are still quite surprised, you know, when they hear that I am Protestant and not Catholic although I have, I married someone who’s Catholic and from this, this area, um so I think that having that connection helps because they all go, oh that’s, you know, that’s Carl’s wife and they all know who Carl is. But I think now I’ve built up a relationship with them and I’ve been here for long enough.

03:00 Well my mum and dad really encouraged me to get involved in cross community work but whenever then I married a Catholic guy there was, there was some conflict and some contention there. That suddenly it wasn’t just I was being friends with the other side but suddenly I was marrying into the other side uh and they were definitely, there are issues that are brought up within there that they had to deal with um but so it’s sort of working itself out now but at one time it was very difficult.

03:28 At the moment I’m actually developing a programme where we go into schools and actually deliver community relations, sessions there and sort of leave the school with a package of resources that they can use. And if I, if I was able to continue doing that, and sort of head that way where it may be more of a nine to five or you can do part time or that sort of idea Other than that right now I’ve no idea.

03:50 I, I’ve a job for three years and after the three years I’ve absolutely no idea.

03:54 END

Lynda W is a youth worker that specialises in creative arts and community relations for Youth Initiatives in Belfast. She has been volunteering there since age 16 and got a full time job there after university. Lynda is passionate about youth work and volunteered in Kenya and Mexico during a gap year.

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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