Spartans Youth Work team are part of the North Edinburgh Youth Work Academy. This is a collaboration between different youth work groups in the community where we work together to encourage, mentor and support local young people to gain qualifications, skills and experience in youth work. Ultimately we hope that they choose to become youth workers of the future.
We caught up with Ben one of the Youth Work Academy students who is currently based at Spartans.
"I got involved with Spartans through a conversation I had when I was at the youth work games. This led to me being put in touch with Kenny at Spartans who was able to get me in on a volunteering basis one day a week doing FooTea Club. I never really thought seriously about doing youth work as a career until I started to regularly volunteer week in week out.
What interests me most about youth work is seeing a kid's development from P1/2 to starting high school and being able to help them through this journey knowing that you’ll be an influence in some way to their development. Also knowing that young people can rely on you is a nice feeling.
My time at Spartans has been majorly affected by Covid-19. I was volunteering for roughly a year and a half just before the pandemic in the youth work team. I was there 1-2 times a week. I was really enjoying it and then we went into a full lockdown which stopped me being able volunteer. During lockdown I was still able to help by handing lunches out every day with the Granton Gardeners. This was really good as it got me out the house in such a difficult time and allowed me to help others who were struggling also.
Nearer the end of lockdown a post came up as a trainee youth worker in the North Edinburgh Youth Work Academy working across the 5 local youth work organisations (Fetlor, Granton Youth, Spartans, Pilton Youth and Muirhouse Youth Development Group). You spend 10 weeks across each of the organisations. This means I was able to come back to Spartans and spend 10 weeks here. This has led to me being offered additional hours within the youth work team at Spartans. I am currently doing my Personal Development Award in youth work- I am in my last unit and I will have completed it. I also attend regular training courses that cover all sorts of different aspects of youth work.
My most challenging experience personally has been settling back in to youth work after not being able to come to Spartans during lockdown. Especially when there's so many different new faces to meet and get to know. However after a couple weeks everyone makes you feel so welcome it makes you feel a lot more comfortable and allows you engage in a lot more activities and conversations. My most rewarding experience was definitely over Christmas. We put on a Christmas dinner for the kids and gave them each a present from Santa. To see how happy all the kids were during this club felt so rewarding. It also made me realise how much kids are grateful for the stuff we do as a community for them on a week to week basis.
I want to do youth work for as long as I can. During this time I want to be able to influence as many young people in a positive way as I can and Spartans is the ideal set up to be able to do that. Spartans have prepared me to know that everyday is a school day in youth work and you will always be learning!"
Ben is such a positive influence on the kids - he's kind, enthusiastic and a great role model. It's fantastic to see how quickly has has grown in confidence over the past year. He's definitely got a future in youth work!