Oxfordshire youth worker shares her experiences of making a difference to young people
An Oxfordshire youth worker is the face of a campaign to raise awareness of services and support for young people, including the recently launched targeted youth support service run by Oxfordshire County Council.
The service works with children and young people experiencing difficulties, helping them make choices that will have a positive effect on their lives. Professionals, like Minette Kempsell, enable young people to be resilient and better placed to cope with problems and challenges as they plan for their future.
Youth Work Week – running from Monday 6 November to Sunday 12 November 2023 – gives Minette Kempsell, an opportunity to explain why she finds the role so rewarding.
Minette said: “I’m part of a trailblazing team. Oxfordshire County Council introduced its targeted youth support service last year. It’s different, I think groundbreaking, in the way it supports and engages with young people.
“Before taking up this role, I was used to young people being referred to me by a school or social services. Although that still happens, what we’re trying to do through the targeted youth support service is encourage young people to approach us directly.
“That’s very empowering. They’re not being forced into seeking help, which they might not feel they need. Instead, we are providing an open door through OXME, which is Oxfordshire County Council’s young people’s website, for them to contact us themselves. They just complete a short and straightforward self-referral online form.
“As a youth worker, I find it an enriching experience. I talk to each young person on their terms and in a venue they are comfortable with. It might be at home, school, on a walk around the park or in a coffee shop.
“During these informal meetings I listen, make suggestions, encourage and share my personal experiences. But importantly I don’t instruct or judge. These young people have had the confidence to come to me, often at very difficult points in their lives. They’re therefore more likely to be open to my professional suggestions but if they feel they’re being told what to do, barriers can come down quickly.
“There are so many rewarding aspects, such as hearing that a young person has enrolled in college. I planted the idea but they considered it and made the choice.
“There’s also the broader community work, designed to bring young people together. I’ve worked with colleagues, setting up mass participation football games in parks. Watching the joy, energy and enthusiasm of those taking part is fantastic. Seeing them making new friends and discovering people who have similar interests. These interactions are likely to be positive for both their physical and mental wellbeing.
“One of the reasons I’m passionate about what I do and the experiences I share is because I personally benefitted from a youth worker when I was younger. I needed that guidance, sense of self-worth and the belief that I could make something of myself.
“Because of the youth worker, I decided to go into higher education, studying public services at Banbury and Bicester College, and later a foundation degree in health and social care at Oxford Brookes University. Getting those qualifications allowed me to do what I do today. To make a difference to the lives of young people.
“I encourage any young person who feels they need support, guidance, or simply want someone to listen to them, to get in touch.”
Further information about the targeted youth support service is available on OXME, the county council’s young people’s website.
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