The Best Youth Worker I’ve Ever Met

13 September 2010 — 1 Comment

I’ve mentioned somewhere before that I kind of stumbled into paid youth work. I’d volunteered at church activities for years, then aged 19 went for a job interview for a part-time worker as I needed to earn some money.

It wasn’t a great interview as I wasn’t very confident and kept my head down all the way through! Yet the project manager saw some potential in me and persuaded the panel to hire me. Over those next few years he took every opportunity to encourage me and build me up.

Every time we went somewhere, he introduced me to people as “the best youth worker I’ve ever met.” It was a little embarrassing, but it made me smile. I guess he said it as a statement of my future potential rather than who I was at that time. I mean, I certainly wasn’t the best youth worker he’d ever met!

However, over time those words made a huge difference in my life. As I heard time and again that I was the best youth worker, I started to believe it – just a little! My confidence grew, I felt better enabled to do my job, and I believed that I was pretty good at it. As I result, I became much better at it. (By the way, I would never claim to be THE best youth worker, but I think I’m doing OK).

So I need to say publicly: Thank you Paul Sanderson for all that you invested into me. I’m here today because of your influence.

What about you? Has anyone spoken positive words over you? Do you regularly speak about the potential of young people you know? Do you encourage them in who they could become?

Photo Credit: Leonard John Matthews on Flickr


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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  1. Mistakes I’ve Made #8 | - 25 November 2011

    […] Amazingly though, I was offered the job! I later found out it was because of my local knowledge (as I wrote about here), but my manager spent the next few years publicly encouraging me at every opportunity. […]

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