My Young Devon Journey

My Young Devon journey started back at the end of January 2018 as my college work placement. I was in my second year of college, studying my first year of my 90 Credit Diploma of Health and Social Care at Exeter College. I chose The Change Academy as my placement as when I was younger, I received help from the provided services from the building. I was receiving help from the services as part of a group therapy and 1 to 1 therapy under CAMHS for around 3 years. I found the services I was involved I helped me a lot and therefore I wanted to give back the help I received.

One of the first projects I was involved with is the Early Help 4 Mental Health School workshops. I have now been involved with 3 different groups. The first school chose their project to be self-help packs and re-design their current time out room. They completed this by making canvas’s, posters and re designing the lay out. This is one of the canvas’s they created.

I was then introduced with Newton Abbots EH4MH HUB group in which I have participated in different training and the co-running of group activities.

I then gained an interested in the project Exeter Youth Voice that started in April 2018. This was of interest from me as I work at Exeter RD&E Hospital and go to college in Exeter so it was a community I felt part of. I continued being a volunteer in this group once my work placement came to an end in May 2018. I continued volunteering after my placement as I felt youth work was where my career path and passion lays. I loved knowing that what I do really makes an impact and change to young people’s lives. Members of this project attended Exeter Respect Festival which was a two day event to help promote our new project and help create the first steps of our movement. In preparation to this event I helped plan activates, set up create resources and went round the festival with another member of the group to inform people about who we are and what our movement was.

We consulted with over 500 young people at this event which was a huge success! We had a map of Exeter for young people to pin point where they attended any clubs /actives in Exeter to help liaise with the Corporate Plan that Exeter City Council and Devon County Council helped create.
We also had different questions for young people to creatively answer alongside free face glitter, wristbands, our contact info and a brief description of Exeter Youth Voice and Young Devon. I really enjoyed the event as the weather was lovely and also to see how much interest members of the pubic had in us and the faith they had in young people’s abilities. I am still a volunteer of this group now.

I also participated in a work experience day where I shadowed two Directors of Exeter City Council. During the day I attended two meetings which I found very informative and gave me a good insight of what our Local Councillors do on a day to day basis and what their priorities are. Both of the councillors I shadowed were very welcoming and you could tell they cared about the city and the city’s future.

The following evening we held a Q&A event to local councillors such as Sir Luke Seals and Cllr Rachel Sutton. This was held at Exeter Community Centre. We asked questions that the members of both the Exeter community from emails and social media using our hashtag (#exeteryouthvoice) and the member of Exeter Youth Voice. We created a Facebook live for this event and also had Radio Exe attend.
After this I started my second lot of the EH4MH workshops for the winter term. This schools chosen project was to do self-help packs alongside a presentation to all members of staff explaining how they may feel and what they can do to support them more efficiently within the educational environment. The young people in this school group felt this was important to them as teachers can widen their knowledge of mental health, and how the staff, in a supportive role, can help guide them through any issues they may face.

I have also participated on the Princes Trust residential. This took place from the 11th-14th of February 2019. I felt as this was one of the best experiences of my life. Being in the surroundings we were and the activities we were part of were really fun and showed a lot of personality from the staff and the young people. I climbed a cliff face, went bouldering, climbed to the top of a mountain! The whole thing was very eye opening from a personal and professional point of view. The young people within this team seemed to really have enjoyed themselves and thought it was very beneficial for them. This experience taught me a lot about myself and what I am truly capable of and how much youth work means not only to me but to young people too.

I am now close to finishing my 3rd and final group pf EH4MH school workshops. The young people in this group have enjoyed the programme and have benefitted in in ways such as improved self-confidence along with self-esteem and they have gained more knowledge of coping strategies. We are currently half way through finishing the project work, creating mental health self-help packs and also a presentation to teachers on our achievements.

Overall, I can say I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at young Devon and wish to continue growing and developing as a youth worker with the help of my lovely Young Devon team. I cannot recommend this charity and team enough, I have been very fortunate to have found my career path at such a young age. The team have been incredibly supportive on pushing my passion to grow along with my skills and knowledge.

A word from your youth worker:

‘Emily has been an outstanding volunteer, she started her journey with us during her College work placement and soon realised that becoming a youth worker was her passion. Emily joined us as an official volunteer in October 2018 and has been incredible. It has been heart-warming seeing Emily start off by supporting with Mental Health workshops in her early stages to planning and delivering her own Mental Health sessions with me supporting her. Emily has come so far this last year, her confidence and passion for supporting young people is inspiring and encouraging to others! Emily thank you so so much for all your amazing hard work, you are an amazing, passionate and enthusiastic Youth worker and you are a role model to so many young people, I can’t wait to see what the next year brings you! – Cassie :)’