What a year!

Enjoying one of the many festivals (and no I'm not sick before you ask, it's facepaint!)

Enjoying one of the many festivals (and no I'm not sick before you ask, it's facepaint!)

 

2013 – a year of bad luck? Well that’s what some would have you believe but in actual fact I see 2013 as my best year ever! It marks my tenth anniversary in the world of youth work and what a crazy journey it’s been! I could become the resident blogger of Livity for the next 6 months and I don’t think my stories would end but today I want to talk to you about one part of the last 10 years – the part spent as the Regional Coordinator for somewhereto_ North West.

 

Now my background, passion and interests in youth work has been and always be youth empowerment and participation – getting young people to make a chance to their lives and to the lives of others. I did this primarly through setting up Youth Forums and Youth Parliaments and believed there was no other way of getting young people to make an impact – how wrong I was!

 

In December 2011 I saw a job advert from a company called Culturapedia. They were looking for a Promotion and Engagement Coordinator and whilst there was an element of “work with young people” I felt it wasn’t for me. After a few prods and pokes (yes Facebook pokes!) I decided to trust what my heart was telling me and applied for the position, went to my interview and was offered the job! The moral of the story – sometimes it’s OK to trust your heart because it was one of the best decisions I had ever made!

 

Over the last 12 months I have helped engage over 400 young people in activities around arts, sports and culture; I have set up pop up shops, festivals, conferences and debates; I accompanied a group of young people to perform in the Olympic Park whilst at the same time ensuring that the North West was the top performing region in terms of finding diverse and unique opportunities for young people.

 

My greatest professional success though – engaging young people from an ethnic minority background in the arts. Coming from a Pakistani background, the arts has always been seen as a dangerous “thing” – something that will ruin your reputation and so to be able to say that out of those 400 young people at least 25% of them are from a South Asian background – many of whom will have family and friends who have a negative outlook on the arts has been a great achievement.

 

Personally, I feel that this position has taught me a lot – I now know that through the arts and through cultural activity young people can make a difference, it’s not always up about setting up forums and parliaments but actually just giving young people an opportunity, any opportunity to just showcase their skills and talents.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there have been challenges along the way and I’d rather not dampen this lovely happy blog with them. Let’s just say it hasn’t always been roses and chocolates!

 

2012. The year of Olympics and the Jubilee. The year where my outlook on youth work and working with young people changed. The year that if I could, I’d love to do all over again!

 

If you want to hear more of my stories why not send me an email – jaffer@somewhereto.com and I’ll be happy to share them with you (that’s if I’m not incredibly busy helping out young people!)

Enjoying my time as Regional Coordinator for somewhereto_

Enjoying my time as Regional Coordinator for somewhereto_