I currently work within targeted youth services for young disabled people aged 11-25 as a team leader. I oversee several projects that support disabled young people to access accessible and engaging opportunities. My work is embedded within the social model of disability which means that disability is a social construct and that it is societal and attitudinal barriers that disabled individuals and not their impairment. Working within the paradigm has enabled me to truly support some of the most vulnerable young people and understand what true empowerment is.
My passion in supporting disabled young people began when I started my degree in Youth and Community work. This led to receiving a first and for my research project which explored the narratives of young disabled people through the use of photography. Following this, I went on to complete my masters in Anthropology of Childhood, Youth and Education. Anthropology has given me to the tools to appreciate how complex individuals are, and the various factors that contribute towards the way we view ourselves and others. Not only did this allow me to get an insight in to the different way’s childhood is understood and conceptualised, but also study my own experiences. It really pushed me to question my own preconceived ideas and belief systems, how I allocated and navigated myself in different settings, and truly be an observer in unearthing the complexities of any given situations. The theoretical underpinnings of youth work have also given me the understanding that effective youth work stems from the ability to be a reflective practitioner and is an ongoing process between both learner and practitioner.
Through my years of studying and working with vulnerable young people, I have learnt the value and impact of the pastoral element of having a trusted adult in your life. This led me to want to have more of a therapeutic role when working with young people and lead me to enrol on to the MA Working with Children, Young People & Families: a psychoanalytic observational approach at the Tavistock and Portman. I have now completed this course and am preparing to continue training and studying for the professional doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
I am extremely grateful to receive a bursary from the Stuart Hall Foundation. This has provided me with an opportunity to access a profession that historically has excluded people of colour. Through my professional and personal experience, I have learnt that is it essential for people with lived experiences to have access to opportunities where they can also support people from similar backgrounds.