Toni Cooper

I currently have two separate roles. I am a senior youth worker for the Jersey Youth Service projects team, where I work hard to meet the forever changing needs of young people living in the Island. For my second role I work as a team leader for the Jersey Youth Service. In this capacity I provide support to six youth projects across the Island, supervise senior and assistant youth workers, and represent the Jersey Youth Service at project committee meetings. Additionally, I provide guidance on policies and procedures which often include an element of safeguarding. Juggling both roles means that I have to be flexible at all times and a typical day at work often includes: a meeting of some sort, this may be a multi- agency meeting, in-house meetings, supervision session or a meeting with young people or professionals. I then go through my emails often trying to signpost young people to projects that may be of benefit to them, so one of our wellbeing sessions, young carers projects, a youth project or the Youth Enquiry Service. I then spend time either designing or running face to face sessions with young people. This could involve delivering a session or running an awareness stand on politics, stress, alcohol, mental health, domestic abuse plus many more – it depends what young people need support with.

What do you think are the three most important skills to succeed in your career area?
Interpersonal skills as you need to be able to build positive relationships with young people.
Creative thinking – as you always need to think of innovative ways to engage young people.
Management skills – so we can provide the best service possible for the young people that we work with.

Was this something you planned to do or did you change direction at any point in the past? If so, what was that and was it easy to do?
I always wanted to work with children, however I wasn’t sure what career path to take. Luckily I came across youth work when I was 19 years old when I started volunteering for the Jersey Youth Service. From this experience I knew I wanted to work with young people and so I went off to university to study for a degree in youth and community work.

What do you love most about working in your career area?
I love the way that I can help make a positive difference to young people’s lives. I love that every day is different, that I can use my creativity to create pieces of work that encourages young people to make informed choices about their lives.

Are there any negative aspects of working in your career area that people considering it should be aware of?
I thoroughly enjoy my job and there aren’t really any negative aspects… the only thing that gets to me sometimes is the fact that we have to work unsociable hours, so evenings and weekends.

What training / qualifications did you undertake for your current role or are you currently undertaking?
You need to undertake a degree and JNC quailfication in Youth Work. This can be done by going to university full-time or you can train on the job, by undertaking a long- distance course. (Jobs are always advertised locally).

Is there any other information that would be of interest to someone thinking of this career?
Youth work can be delivered in a number of ways, through generic
or targeted work. The Jersey Youth Service is always looking for new volunteers, so if you are interested in becoming a youth worker you should start by volunteering at one of our youth projects. We have youth projects in every parish – for more information call 280500.

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