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Discover a career filled with variety at St Christopher's

“Doing the Flexi Passport gave me a clear picture of where I want to go in my career”

Variety can play a huge role in how motivated, engaged and inspired you feel at work. Through St Christopher’s Academy, working with us means you’ll have opportunities to diversify your skills at every stage of your career.

Irene completed the Flexi Passport to get a taste of what it’s like to work in children’s homes, semi-independent homes and outreach services. She also takes part in our Talent Pathway, delivering training to new employees. Find out how the Academy has supported her career aspirations.

Why did you want to join St Christopher’s?

I came from a retail background but had worked with young people before and always enjoyed it. One day, I was searching through jobs and found St Christopher’s. I liked what they stood for. I had never worked specifically with children in care so this was my first opportunity to work with that group.

What experience did you have before joining the organisation?

Previously I had done some football coaching for young refugees, provided mentoring for refugees aged 11-17 and worked in a centre for young people who were at risk of being excluded from school.

You are on the Talent Pathway. Why did you choose that career pathway?

Because I have worked in the sector for such a long time, I wanted to do something different and use my experience to help people when they are new to the profession. It’s important to hear from colleagues who have done the job before so that you understand the reality. Working with young people isn’t just fun and games, or like something out of Tracy Beaker – it can be hard and you will be emotionally affected by the work.

What do you get out of being a training co-facilitator?

It helps me reflect on my own skills and realise that I know what I’m doing! It has shown me that I know my job really well, and means I can help other people do their job correctly too by sharing my knowledge and experience. I always try to make sure that people have something to take away from every training session, something they can use even if they change career.

Delivering training has grown my confidence, so I know I could go into a role like this in the future if I wanted to do something different. One day I would like to run training on working with young people at risk of county lines and exploitation.

You’re also on the Flexi Passport. What have you learnt from working in different St Christopher’s services?

I’ve worked in a semi-independent home, a children’s home and at Trusted Spaces, a community-based project supporting young people at risk of grooming, gang involvement, exclusion from school and exploitation. Working in these three roles means I’ve gained different skills and understand how different children’s services are connected.

It’s also made me see that I can expand my skills and don’t have to stick to one thing – I would urge anyone to take up opportunities at St Christopher’s to work in a different services because you learn so much.

Which role have you enjoyed the most?

Trusted Spaces is my favourite. I get a lot out of working with young people and families who are actively seeking our support. You don’t always have that link to young people’s families when you work in children’s homes or semi-independent homes, so I like that I can bridge that gap.

Because it is community-based, I can work with young people in an environment they feel comfortable in – like the park, or window shopping in their area, or in their school. It means I get to see how they act in their own space. I think it’s the best way to work as you get so much more out of young people that way, which then means you know more about what’s going on in their lives and any safeguarding risks.

Is working with families different?

Most of the time, children still crave being part of a family. At Trusted Spaces, I enjoy helping to build relationships for young people and their families, as they are so important for offering lifelong connections.

For example, after a session with a young person I can offer tips to their parents on how they could build a better relationship. I don’t reveal what the young person has spoken about as it’s confidential, but I can point the parent in the right direction. It works the other way round too – when a parent is worried about their child, I can check in with them and be the trusted adult they need in that moment.

What’s next for you?

Doing the Flexi Passport gave me a clear picture of where I want to go in my career. I know that I want to do more one-to-one, long-term work with young people because you can see the difference you’re making to their lives.

I’ve always wanted to study psychology, so I want to become a therapist for young people or families, or be a counsellor in schools. I’ll be studying Level 5 and Level 7  Child Psychology courses this year to get an understanding of the basics. Hopefully this will help me get to where I want to be!

Thank you to Irene for sharing her story. If you’re looking for a career where you can diversify your skills, apply to work at St Christopher’s now.