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Youth Worker Wellbeing and Coaching/Mentoring

Youth Worker Wellbeing and Coaching/Mentoring

 

Youth Worker wellbeing has never been more important than it is right now. We have lived and/or worked through a year and a bit of the kind of scenario that not many of us could have predicted. Youth workers are generally really good at being creative and making things work even under difficult circumstances but this year has seen that taken to a whole other level. If you’ve been working all through the pandemic to maintain contact with young people then you are likely to be exhausted. The rate of change we have experienced this year has been enormous: face-to-face groups disappearing; food deliveries and online groups springing up; the use of technology gone through the roof; furlough has impacted our teams or maybe even you individually. All of these things will have an impact and could potentially lead to burnout. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to youth workers all over the country and in different contexts over the last six months and have heard messages like ‘We haven’t had time to reflect, it’s been crazy’ and also ‘We’ll just keep working while there’s a need. There’s no time to stop.’ The saying ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ is a good one because it illustrates well what often happens when we are working with people.

The need will always be there. We might not be if we do not build in time to stop, to rest, to think about our experiences and feelings.

Someone once said ‘All change is experienced as loss and every loss must be grieved’ which I think is a helpful way of looking at this past year and a bit. We’ve all experienced change.  For some those changes have been devastating as we have lost loved ones.  Or perhaps we have lost a sense of self in amongst the anxiety and worry about losing jobs. Whatever change you’ve experienced in the past year, we need to make space to grieve for the loss of expectations and planning. To carry on without this will risk a crash; to try and keep up with the rate of change in this recovery period will lead to burnout.

You need to stop.

You need to rest and recuperate.

‘Self-care’ is a phrase that has become popular in recent times. It’s a phrase that has almost lost its meaning due to overuse and I know there are some who dislike it altogether. We humans were built for connection and community, not for retreating into ourselves and cutting off all ties with others in order to ‘care for ourselves’. In fact,self-care actually looks different for different people.  It is whatever activity helps you regain a sense of self, refresh your energy levels and recover a sense of purpose that’s beyond survival.

Self-care can look like getting coaching or mentoring to help make sense of all the threads in your head. Coaching will help you see your way forward, giving you hope for the future and also making the present more bearable. If you feel like you’re in a mess: tired, anxious, run ragged with stress, then giving yourself the gift of a dedicated time slot with someone who will listen, who will encourage and gently correct your self-talk where needed, will be enormously beneficial!

CCMN have a wide range of different people offering coaching or mentoring, we all have different skill sets and different approaches so it’s worth having a look and making initial contact with individual members to find out more about what they offer.

Be kind to yourself today and get in touch.

I am Jenni Osborn, I have been passionate about youth work all of my working life, including teaching at secondary school, leading Church-based youth work, schools work, overseeing qualifications for youth workers and then latterly also writing, mentoring and training for youth workers across different contexts. I am the author of "From Isolation to Community: Youth Work in the Covid Era and Beyond", which can be purchased from my website www.jenniosborn.org. I mentor youth workers in a variety of contexts, including those working for independent charities, those working in their community and also those who work for churches. I offer training on mental health and young people, as well as on youth work in the covid era and beyond. I also host the Jenni Talks podcast which is aimed at supporting those who support young people; you can find it on all the major podcast platforms. Contact me directly on hello@jenniosborn.org

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