“I was inspired 10 years ago by a youth worker that came on a trip I organised to the European Parliament with a group of students. He was brilliant at engaging and communicating with the young people and at that moment I wanted to become a youth worker. At that time I was working for the District Council as a youth development officer running a youth forum so I asked if I could undertake a BA Hons in Youth and Community Work, which they agreed to.
Over the next 5 years I studied part time at college 1 day a week and this included 2 work placements (over 6-12 months in the evenings and weekends), which I did at the Foyer, a supported housing unit. I also worked on a project at Windmill House, another supported housing unit for young people.
Studying and working at the same time was very difficult but I felt determined and inspired to keep going to get my degree and become qualified in youth and community development. I learnt so much on the course and in my placements.
I continue to strive to support vulnerable young people, particularly those facing homelessness. Whenever I undertake youth related projects or consultations I always include hard to reach young people and those who are vulnerable as their voice is so important when shaping community services.
This moment of inspiration changed my life and I am committed to helping young people have a say in their community. I have shared my experiences and beliefs with my children and I am very proud of them both as they have grown up with a strong social conscience and are advocates of social justice.” Karen Tolley.