Emmanuel Baidoo, Spotlight Youth Worker, is committed to working with young people to encourage them to go after opportunities and pursue their goals.
I deliver detached youth work services in Bow West, Tower Hamlets. It’s an exciting challenge. It brings youth service directly to where the young people are; whether they are on the streets, in stairwells or hanging out in the park.
Since 2019, I’m one of the faces they’ve come to know and trust. Five evenings a week, I’m out there speaking with them, listening to them, working to find solutions to some of the problems they’ve been experiencing.
I‘m pleased with what the team and I achieved so far. We’ve learned about the community, identified the gaps and work with local organisations to deliver programmes co-designed by the young people.
I am proud to say that young people are indeed interested in working with their community to deliver change.
I do what I do to encourage young people to access the services around them and motivate them to pursue their goals. I see what they have to offer.
We worked with a local cycle initiative. The young people designed a bike workshop programme. They learned bike safety, maintenance and wellbeing. 90 young people, from low income families, got to ride off with new cycles and new skills.
I build rapport with them by speaking their language, turning a casual conversation into an educational opportunity.
For me it’s about being there for them, offering them a chance to offload and talk about their challenges. I can provide advice and support them in to making informed decisions.
I’m an advocate for young people and I believe there are solutions to complex issues if partners and stakeholders think outside the box and adopt a co-production mind set.
I don’t think young people’s views are really listened to and this impacts their confidence. My team and I bring the views of young people into our stakeholder meetings. Their views need to be considered when making decisions on how to tackle certain issues. We were able to solve a long standing anti-social behaviour problem in a space of six months based on our approach.
The most impactful moments of my career occur at those unexpected times. I’m minding my own business doing my weekly shop and the guy at the checkout looks at me smiles and says – ‘You don’t remember me, you helped me with my CV to get this job. Thank you.’
Youth workers. We don’t wear capes. We don’t fly. Young people may not look up to us the way they look up to those in the media. But, it’s equally as powerful when later in their life they say, ‘In my younger days, you were there for me. You were a role model.’