In my last post, on the need for youthworkers (and their managers) to take an active role in their self-care, i intimated that it is mostly a youthworkers responsibility to do this, despite their better passionate instinct. What tends to happen is that, especially in youth ministry type roles, the individual youth minister is seen to be ‘at fault’ if they cannot cope in a situation, rather than the culture of the ministry to have any responsibility for their well being and satisfaction in a role. It can become more difficult to challenge a structure if it can be deemed a faith one, and ordained one, one steeped in theological history.
However, thats a bit of a tangent, the point is that regardless of the culture of a workplace, a youthworker is responsible for their self-care, for looking after their social, spiritual, physical and mental well-being, albeit with hopefully some good supervision (and thank you for this comment on the article steelcityman) to hand to help.
I wondered: what else youthworkers are responsible for in their role and profession? – beyond their job title and description.
- Their Self care-, looking after themselves (obviously)
- Finding their own support system, practice supervisor type role for them
- Developing their own career path – there are limited straight pathways (thanks to Ultimate Youthworker Podcast for this one), they may have to make a choice to leave somewhere
- Developing secondary work when funding starts to decline in their paid job
- Depending on their role, they could be responsible for all the NEETs in a town getting a job, all the anti social behaviour being reduced, or all the young people going to church. (;-))
- They are responsible for filtering out and discerning the right kind of training opportunities, and also for ascertaining them in the first place.
- They are responsible for trying to manage purposeful relationships with young people that are difficult to quantify, and treating them with care.
- They are responsible for maintaining reading, learning and being up to date with policies and theories as it as an ever changing practice
- They are responsible for managing a smooth transition in themselves from worker to manager or supervisor with often limited support to do so.
- They are responsible for holding and keeping alot of information about young people through conversations with them, with other agencies and hoping to still treat young people with fairness, equality and respect.
- They can often be responsible for finding funding for their own role.
- They are responsible for their own priority setting, where they have the power to make priorities of their tasks, and time management.
- They are responsible for finding their own pension scheme, usually.
- They are responsible for maintaining a position of trust in the middle of other agencies and be trusted by young people.
- They are responsible for defending themselves with no union.
- They are responsible for the table tennis table and trying to continually act 21 with young people.
I am sure there are others, and not to say that youthworkers are unique because in other practices of work these things will also apply. It was just as i was thinking about what youthworkers are responsible for, that are implied or extra beyond their job description, or like number 5 or 16, its what people expect a youthworker to be able to do, or only do. It is a hugely self determining role – in terms of decisions a youthworker has to make, ethical decisions, practical decisions (about pensions, or jobs) – and this coupled with the high levels of emotional output, it can be undoubtedly draining without looking after ourselves, So maybe getting number 1 right is the best first thing.