Youth Worker , Youth Services
Anne Russell has a challenging job working with challenging youth.
“It’s full on,” says the youth worker. “I love it though. Basically my job is about finding out what our youth need to help them create a better life for themselves.”
Anne works at Youth Service in New Plymouth, a role she’s held since 2009.
The youth she mentors are 16 or 17-year-olds Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). They’ll be living with family but not attending school, another educational institute, training provider or other youth organisations. Some are attending school but wanting to leave school early.
Anne helps them in many ways. She talks about things such as what stopped them succeeding at school, where they might be headed in terms of future education and what goals they have.
“We are not here to make decisions for them, or tell them what to do. They have had plenty of people telling them that. We’re here to build a bond.”
They may express an interest in a particular area of work, and she’ll suggest an appropriate training provider. Sometimes they don’t know what they want and are daunted by the prospect of enrolling in a course.
Either way, it’s Anne’s job to link them to the possibilities on offer. She is also very mobile and always willing to meet the young person in an environment that suits them such as at home.
On top of its mentoring service, Youth Service in New Plymouth and Hawera can help NEET youth with further education to get them closer to achieving their goals.
Anne says the work of the Youth Service is becoming better known in Taranaki.
“Kids are talking to each other. They know what we do here, and they’re starting to talk to their peers.”
Anne has recently extended her skills and knowledge as the co-ordinator for the Tui Ora Alternative Education programme that helps young people aged between 13-15 years, who are not attending mainstream school.
Anne sees this programme providing these young people to learn and develop to return to school or transitioning onto Youth Services to complete their education and achieving their goal/s.
The grandmother of two adult children and three moko is working towards a national diploma in youth work level 6, and says she can’t see herself doing anything else, career wise. “What I do is all about the kids. We also have a good team here. We work in well. We support each other.”