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“I can help young people to find their way”

Welcome to Staff Spotlight, a series of stories from staff who have recently changed roles or been promoted at St Christopher’s. Marijana joined our young siblings mentoring project at the start of 2020 and shares how it differs to working in residential care or supported housing.

What attracted you to your new role?

This role seemed as a new opportunity and new challenge for me. I always like to push myself forward and build my knowledge and experience. I liked the fact that I can be part of a preventative project and help young people to find their way before is too late. It makes me feel even more motivated to help them. As we work with 10-14 year olds there are lot of things we can do to support them to make the right choices in life. Also, I like the fact that every day is different as my role includes working in the community, meeting young people and doing fun activities together.

What have been the main differences in this role to your previous one?

There is definitely more flexibility as I am able to work from home and finish my paperwork anywhere in community, not just in the office. I like the fact that I can work Monday to Friday and have weekends off. That means more balance in life for me as I found it difficult working shifts and sometimes not being able to have routine and meet other people. I feel that there are more responsibilities, meetings and possibilities for me to progress in my career. Working with the young people is different because of their ages and having the freedom to meet them anywhere.

Have you experienced any challenges in your new role?

It took a bit of time to set up everything before we started to meet with the young people as we are a new service. Even though I have been working with young people for quite a long time, I didn’t have experience working directly with young people who are involved in criminal activities. I quite often think “I really love my job!”

Since lockdown it has has been challenging as we are not able to meet young people in person. Sometimes it can be hard to stay in touch with them; having a phone call is definitely not the same as face to face contact or doing something together.

What things have helped you to settle in?

I felt a lot of support from my colleagues and manager. Learning more about county lines and gangs gave me a clear picture about those young people and what problems they face. We are working hard to present our project to other professionals in Barnet (the London borough we work in) and to talk about potential cases.

Has there been anything that has surprised you about the job?

I was surprised how many young people are involved in gangs and criminal activities and by the fact they are starting from such an early age, sometimes even before they reach ten. Young people today are very attracted by money and expensive clothes so they are trying to find a way to get it. I was not aware earlier of gang locations and crime activities in London. I have a much better understanding now and ideas how to support and protect those young people.

What would you say to other St Christopher’s staff who are thinking about going for a promotion or job opportunity with another team?

I think it is very important to show motivation. Do not do only what your manager is expecting from you to do. There is always opportunity to progress and think how you can improve yourself, your job and your organisation. If you make yourself busy all the time and be creative to do even more, you will be happier and other people around you will notice it. It is very important to think about any training opportunities and to be honest with your manager what you want to achieve and how you want to progress in your career.

Would you like a career with opportunities to develop, all while creating brighter futures for children and young people? Find out about careers at St Christopher’s today.