I have just retired after a 30-year career in the police service. I first joined the Metropolitan Police Force in December 1987, during this early service I was initially posted to an inner-city division, during those times youth engagement was not a high priority, but it was clear that the young people were looking towards very unsuitable individuals as role models and as a result were entering the criminal justice system at an early age. As a result, I and several others decided to create a program for the summer holidays to take young people off the streets and help give them some direction and positive activities, this is where my passion for youth engagement started.
During January 1994 I transferred to the Humberside Police Service, for almost all my career I have worked in North East Lincolnshire with attachments to response, child protection and the Firearms department, to name a few. All these posting were excellent and during that period of service I gained a lot of knowledge and experience. However, my posting to the Youth Offending Team kicked started my youth engagement activities in the Humberside Police Service. I was proud to have served in this department for around 3 ½ years, during this time I worked with young people who had made poor life choices and committed some form of low level crime, my main role was to engage with and work with those young people who hadn’t yet gone to court. I would assess the young person for risk and offending behaviour I would then create an individual program to help the young person develop their own skills and strategies to deal with their particular areas of risk and behaviour, through out the process the aim was to help the young person make good and positive life choices and decisions thus improving their chances of enjoying a full and rewarding life. It was during this time that I created my first awareness talk for young people, that was Knife Crime awareness program for year 7 and above students, since that time the talk has been given to almost all of the secondary schools in my area (around 10000 plus young people) as well as alternative provision and inclusion units, plus education providers further afield.
I was coming to the end of my time on the Youth Offending Team and was asked to consider becoming a neighbourhood Beat Manager which I accepted and was posted to the Willows and Wybers area, again this gave me the opportunity to expand my youth engagement activities, working along side the local secondary and primary schools to create projects and talks to help the young people in my area to make good choices and so reduce the risk of getting in trouble, I served her for around 3 years
My final role prior to retirement was that of a force Community Cohesion Officer (with a responsibility for North East Lincolnshire), this roles aim was to work with emerging and minority communities with a specific focus on 'hate crime' issues. Again this was a role that I was asked to do and really enjoyed doing. I would find new emerging communities and create relationships to help remove barriers and build bridges between the community and the police, to help foster trust and form a good joint working relationship. I still made appoint to continue with my youth engagement activities, this time coming from a diversity and respect point of view, I then created further awareness talks which included Diversity and Discrimination, Hate crime, Radicalisation Awareness & sexting and Internet safety. These talks have and continue to be given to teaching staff and students from many educational providers both mainstream and special & Inclusion provision.
When I retired I wanted to continue to help young people to ‘Aspire & Attain’ which are two simple but powerful words that are at the heart of what I want to achieve. A child without aspiration is a child's future with very little hope. The young are our future and we need to give them the best information in the best engagement style to help them to make the best choices that they can. And to help stop that individual from getting into trouble and so limiting their future options.
I have been in the youth engagement and mentoring arena for around 10 years, during this period I have gained many skills and experience which has helped me develop and implement various projects and activities to help young people develop and create aspiration and attainment for themselves.
But where has this all come from, well as a mother of two young children I was working in a local restaurant, with little chance for progression my aspiration for my future career potential was low. This annoyed me as I didn’t want this for my children. So, I stopped, looked at my self and what I needed to do to make positive changes in my life and future aspirations.
Firstly, I attended the local community centre and became involved in various community lead projects, I gained a lot of experience of project management and soon began to create my own projects, specifically looking at youth engagement, from this point I knew I wanted my career direction to move into the youth engagement field.
From here I have never looked back, in 2011 I successfully gained employment at Grimsby College initially within the behaviour support department, from that point the management have encouraged me to look for challenges and push myself, as a result I have moved from that initial role into learner support, learner mentor and last year I was selected to be a Success coach within the childcare study program, where I am responsible for around 150 students of mixed levels of behaviour and achievement. During my time within these roles I have been there to support and motivate students from ages 16 years plus, this sometimes been challenging but never dull or without a lot of job satisfaction.
From my initial start in youth engagement I have obtained many qualifications which include:
- Foundation Degree in related health
- Level 4 pass in training and education
- Level 3 pass in youth work
- Continued personal development and training that are integral to working with young people, to include safeguarding etc.
For several years I have worked alongside Steve, prior to him retiring from the police service and this has continued, during this joint working we have produced various awareness sessions which were presented to the students within the college and we have also taken part in external youth engagement programs such as Humberside Police Rock Challenge and Night Challenge. I am also the coordinator for the local youth Rotaract Group within the college.
I am looking forward to building on this experience with the SWATuk program. The ethos of the company is to ‘target the youth to aspire and attain’. This has also been my main driver since starting in youth engagement.