The main aims and objectives for my work placement in the Limerick Youth Service (LYS) that I would like to achieve are: To develop my communication skills. To gain an insight into working in an educational environment.
To increase my self-confidence.
To increase my ability to work effectively as a member of a team.
To develop the knowledge to deal with a disclosure should the circumstance occur.
During my time working at the LYS, I hope to achieve these aims and objectives successfully.
Description of Host Organisation
Sr. Joan's "legacy - the Limerick Youth Service - provides tangible proof that positive community endeavour makes a difference" (McAleese, M. Joan's People, 2003:5)
The LYS was established in 1973 by Sr. Joan Bowles. In 1976, the Lower Glentworth Street premises were bought and opened; and the renovation of the Ballyloughran Centre began. The resource centre in Glentworth Street officially opened in 1987 and the Youth Information Service was established. The LYS has grown into the largest local Youth Service in Ireland, spreading throughout Limerick city and county. (Moyross, Southill, Glentworth Street, King's Island, John's Street, etc)
Aims and Objectives/Mission Statement.
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"To support and encourage young people to be active participants in shaping their futures"
Service Delivery: Making sure that services delivered are young people centred.
Participation: Making sure the young people feel like they are part of something which in turn may strengthen their involvement in their community.
Advocacy: Giving the youth a voice.
Leadership: Gaining the confidence to be a leader, inspiring others.
Partnership: Working as part of a team to enhance the lives of young people.
Excellence: Working to achieve the best.
The aim of the service is to advocate on behalf of all young people in Limerick, regardless of background, ethnicity, economic status or locality, whilst empowering and encouraging them to take a leading role in shaping their own futures and that of their communities
Organisational Size and Structure.
The LYS is one of the largest Youth Services in the country, spreading throughout Limerick city and county. Projects range from Garda Diversion Projects, Youth Cafés, Youth Justice Projects and Youth Intervention Projects to the Community Training Centre Projects. The LYS plays a huge role in the lives of the young people of Limerick and this is mainly down to the large number of youth workers, drug workers, counsellors, teachers, volunteers and anyone working with the general working of the LYS throughout the many and varied centres in Limerick.
Work Placement Description
Description of department where work placement was located.
=Community Training Centre/F.E.T.A.C=
"Limerick Youth Service Community Training Centre offers Education and Skills based training to young people in a non-judgemental, supportive and vibrant environment"
I was based in the LYS Community Training Centre (CTC) in Glentworth Street in Limerick city. The CTC has over 150 students in various educational programmes such as:
Leaving Certificate Applied
During my placement, I was working with the F.E.T.A.C trainees. These trainees are divided into Groups A, B, C, D, E and Horticulture; each group contains between eight and fifteen students. Groups A-E are based in the CTC in Glentworth Street, while the Horticulture group are in Southill Southside Factory. In the CTC, each group spends either a morning or afternoon in classes, working on their F.E.T.A.C modules and the rest of the day working in their chosen project.
The students work through a series of modules throughout their two years at the centre, working through a full Level 3 Certificate and moving on to Level 4. These modules include:
Personal and Interpersonal Skills
Food and Nutrition
Health Related Fitness
The projects ran in the CTC include:
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
These projects give the trainees the chance to experience everyday working life. The trainees also complete an I.A.S module based on the project they are in. This is an Integrated Assessment System and is based on the practical work they do along with the theory that coincides with the project they are in.
I was also linked with the Horticulture Group. The Horticulture project is located in the Southside Factory in Southill. When there, the trainees work with Ger O' Brien (Horticulture Instructor), in the tunnel - filling baskets, window boxes and pots, making up the window boxes and maintenance. They also have classes, as like the CTC, where they work on their F.E.T.A.C modules. They also have activity time, where they can play pool, have a kick about or surf the web.
Work Placement duties/responsibilities and how these evolved.
I worked 9-4 each day in the LYS. One of my main duties throughout my placement was literacy and numeracy support. There are seven classes each day, three in the morning and four in the evening. The trainees worked on their various F.E.T.A.C module handbooks in these classes. My role in the classroom was to help certain trainees with reading, explaining the questions or spelling, as many have learning difficulties, special needs or foreigners who do not have English as their main language.
At the beginning of my placement, a new level 4 Tiling module was to be introduced. As I would be assisting in the delivery of this module when linked with the Horticulture group, I was asked to help with the research and the putting together of the new material. This was a long process as all the information had to be laid out as clearly as possible to make it easy to understand.
The LYS sets up sports modules for the trainees each week. Sometimes, I had to go out to UL with one of the teachers and a Group, if the regular student was not in. Each group got a chance to go play the sport occurring at each time (changed every fifth week), be it badminton, football or volleyball. On arrival at the court in UL, the session began with the teacher explaining the basics of the particular sport and then getting the trainees to put this into practise. The sport session lasted for an hour and when back at the Youth Centre, the trainees were given worksheets to complete, based on the sport just covered; so I helped any trainee that needed help going back over the theory of the sport or spelling.
At the beginning of my placement, I was linked with the Horticulture Group, which meant I was supposed to be working with this group out in Southill for the duration of my placement; unfortunately however, I only got one month with this group in the end, as Ger was absent for two months due to an injury. However, when I was working with them, my responsibilities evolved, in that, in the CTC, where I was needed as a classroom support; in Southill, I was needed to assist in the actual delivery of the F.E.T.A.C level 3 / 4 modules. This was a huge responsibility to take hold of - as, when in the classes in the CTC, there was the assurance of having a teacher in the class also, whereas, in Southill, I was on my own - however, I was determined to take it on. Working with the Horticulture group, my responsibilities included the teaching of the classes, organising times for the ILP's, helping Ger in the tunnel and case conferencing.
=ILP - Individual Learning Plan=
On the first Wednesday of every month an ILP day was held. Every trainee has a key worker. On ILP day, trainees meet with their key worker and go through the progress they have made since the last meeting, targets they have achieved and would like to achieve by the next meeting, general wellbeing, attendance, etc. For the ILP's, I organised the times for each of the trainees in the Horticulture group to be in at and asked the questions along with Ger, which the trainees answered into their folder. When all the meetings ended, I typed the information given into a database with all their previous ILP information.
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This was a meeting with Ger and myself, the manager, a youth worker, an advocacy worker, and the learner support instructor. The day before the case conference, Ger asked me to write up a few points on each of the trainees based on attitude, attendance, progress on F.E.T.A.C modules, how they get along with the rest of the group, etc. During the meeting, myself and Ger went through each of these with the others, who gave feedback on what each trainee should go onto next, whether or not they should go on work experience, how long they have left in the programme and so on. I took note on what folders to collect from the Youth Centre for any trainee that needed a new module.
When working out in the tunnel with Ger, I helped with the upkeep of the flowers, writing out receipts, writing out orders for flowers, counting anything that came in from orders and taking note of how many baskets, pots or window boxes that went to the Youth Centre to be sold.
Work Placement Supervision and any Training.
I attended staff training days within the service which were made available to us, including Manual Handling and Child Protection.
The manual handling course covered how to carry or move heavy objects to decrease the risk of injury to the back. Manual handling also includes trying to reduce the risk of injury by bending and twisting, repetitive motions or maintain fixed positions for long periods at a time. Robert Graham conducted this course and went through all the theory. At the end, we had a practical of moving a box, by maintaining the correct posture, bending the knees and keeping our backs straight, holding the box at the centre of gravity of our body and placing the box back down.
At the beginning of my placement, I completed a two day Child Protection course. Throughout this course we completed four modules in Raising Awareness on Child Protection Issues. In the first module, we went through legal contexts, definition and knowledge of child abuse and guidelines to dealing with a disclosure. In the second module, we went into a more in-depth detail on the legal contexts, how to develop a child protection policy, procedures for reporting suspected or disclosed abuse and how to record them. In the third module, we explored issues of recruitment, selection and management of staff and volunteers and support systems available. In the fourth module, we went through how to identify ways of creating a safer environment whilst working with children and young people - children's rights, child centred approach and codes of behaviour. On completion of this course, I received a certificate of participation from the HSE.
Reflection on Work Placement Experience
Your response to the Work Environment and your Role.
I admit, I did not adapt very quickly to this placement, as it was initially very daunting. Being quite shy and quiet and coming from the country, the thoughts of working with the young people of Limerick city in the LYS - all of whom had dropped out of school and the majority had been in trouble with the Gardaí - was quite terrifying. I had the stereotypical view of 'hoodies' and considering I used to cross the road when approaching a group of them in the city, I did not know how I would react working in the LYS.
However, keeping an open mind - which is very necessary, considering you hear everything from boyfriends, pregnancies, family problems to stealing cars and drugs, and also being asked everything about your own life - I found I eventually settled into placement and quite enjoyed the experience.
With regards to my role in the placement, I found I adapted quite well. As long as the trainees did not feel too pressured and realised that we wanted to be there and help, they were easy to work with. Being a classroom assistant was a very rewarding experience, when the trainees were in the form for work. Yes, there were days when there was not a hope that work would be done, because if a trainee was not in the mood to work, then there was no chance that it was going to happen, as they do not really have any interest in the classes - hence, the majority have dropped out of mainstream school - so I just took it day to day as it came. This is what I found throughout my placement - no two days were the same.
Social and Cultural adjustment.
Most of the trainees I was working with were from disadvantaged backgrounds, from different countries or from a traveller background, so there were many cultural differences. As I mentioned before, I had stereotyped many of the young people as the typical 'hoody' type, however, after working in the LYS this changed.
A lot of the trainees in the Youth Centre had poor literary skills and it was certainly an eye-opening experience to see this - how had so many young people fallen through the mainstream education system? How so many been able to get through primary school without being able to read or write is shocking. Many of these young people, however, felt as if they did not need any education to get through life. This was certainly a different experience, considering I was always brought up with the usual saying of 'stay in school' and grew up with people who were told the same and brought up with the same morals.
Quite a few of the trainees were travellers, which is a completely different cultural background to mine. The reason many of the travellers are in the Youth Centre in the first place is to earn money for their families. Again, many have left or been kicked out of school because they were not accepted or not seen to go far in life. Traveller families are especially strict with the girls and this is the reason many of the traveller girls marry young - as young as fifteen and sixteen. Many of the traveller girls in the Youth Centre are either engaged or married. This is a complete culture shock compared to my own. I am definitely more culturally aware after getting the opportunity to work with people who have backgrounds very different to my own.
Challenges/Problems experienced and how you responded.
The main challenge I experienced with my placement was gaining the respect of the trainees, as there was very little age difference and many of them were close-minded and just wanted to get through the day without putting in the effort needed. Although being there to help, sometimes the trainees were just seriously not in the form for working and trying to get them to write a sentence was impossible. Being pretty much the same age as the trainees - younger in some cases - made it hard to get many of them to listen also. They felt as if "Why should I listen to her when she's younger than me?", which I completely understood. On these occasions, I remained calm, tried to get the trainees to realise I was only there for their own benefit and tried to get them to do a small bit of work, be it a page or two, of the module they were working on. I never pushed them to do too much at these times as I knew this could make the situation worse.
Another time, one of the trainees began to make inappropriate remarks, like whistling at me. I kept ignoring the behaviour, thinking they may come to realise it was annoying me. One day, one of the teachers heard them and he was sent home. He had to apologise and I accepted his apology on the condition that it was to stop, which he agreed to do.
I found working in this placement initially very intimidating because, as I mentioned before, I had stereotyped them all to be 'hoodies'. However, once I settled into the placement, I realised this to be untrue. Many of the young people in Limerick have these labels stuck on them because of where they are from, their background or their culture. This experience taught me not to pre-judge people before I get to know them which I see as a big personal development.
Before working in the Youth Centre, if I was walking along the street in the city and came across a group of youths that had that typical 'hoody' look, I found myself crossing the road to avoid them. However, this changed through working with the young people in the LYS. I now know that nine times out of ten, there is nothing to be worried about when passing these young people - the majority of them are very nice people - and I no longer cross the road.
I find I am more confident for having worked in the LYS, as in the beginning I was quite shy and quiet. However, after working with the trainees, there is no choice but to gain confidence as they will tell it like it is and ask every question about your personal life; so confidence is key when dealing with them.
How the Work Placement complemented your Academic Programme.
I chose to do the Arts course as I had an interest in continuing on to complete an hDip and go into secondary teaching. So working in the Youth Centre gave me a good insight into what it is like working with young people in a classroom setting. So in this way I believe that my placement at the LYS complemented my academic programme.
Implications for Career Plans.
Not fully knowing what I want to do with regards to my career, the placement year was very beneficial. Placement at the LYS gave me a great insight into working in an educational and youth work environment. Having volunteered at my local youth club a few years ago, I knew I was interested in working with young people and after my placement in the LYS this has strengthened my interest, so much so, I am seriously considering a career in this line of work.
Specific Area of Interest
The most interesting aspect of my placement in the LYS was finding out all the work that is done for the young people of Limerick city and county throughout all the various centres in Limerick. Before my placement, I thought all the LYS was in Glentworth Street; however, I could not have been more wrong. There are many and varied centres throughout all of Limerick including:
Northside Youth Café
Moyross Youth Intervention Project
Southill Youth Intervention Project
Northside Youth Justice Project
Garryowen Youth Justice Project
King's Island Youth Project
Rathkeale Youth Project
Castleconnell Youth Project
Southill Fullflex Project
Our Lady of Lourdes RESIN Project
John's Street Garda Youth Diversion Project
Youth Democracy Projects
Limerick City Youth Forum
=Northside Youth Café=
The Northside Youth Café provides a fun and safe environment for the young people in the community to meet new people hang out with friends. It provides a space with music, information, advice, extracurricular activities and much more. As well as using the Café, the young people can become involved with the running of the café also. This Youth Café, along with the others in Limerick, is a great way of keeping the young people off the street and out of trouble.
= Youth Intervention Projects=
The Youth Intervention Projects in Moyross and Southill are aimed at the young people of the areas, between ten and sixteen years old. They are funded by the HSE and their main aims are to develop social and personal skills of the young people, to give the educational support to the young people to help them remain in mainstream schooling and to support the families of the young people involved.
=King's Island Youth Project=
This project is run for the young people of the St. Mary's Park area, aged between twelve and eighteen; by the Limerick Youth Service and the Gardaí. It aims to help young people stay out of a life of crime and help them make positive choices by providing services such as drop-in facility, family support, summer programmes, activities and career guidance.
=Southill Fullflex Project=
In the 'Southside Factory', there is a wide variety of facilities available for the young people of the surrounding communities. These facilities include: a Youth Café, PC Suite, Art Room, Music Room, Recording Studio, Dancing Studio, Pool Tables, Sports Pitches and Meeting Rooms. The LYS CTC's Horticultural group work from this space also - a tunnel is set up outside which keeps all the flowers and products made by them. "The aim of the Southside Youth Space is to provide a location where young people can engage in a process of growth and development that will facilitate them in achieving their full potential."
=Limerick City Youth Forum=
The Limerick City Youth Forum meets weekly and organise events for the young people of Limerick. They also act as a voice for the young people, discussing and campaigning the key issues of concern of the Youths.
=Garda Youth Diversion Projects=
The aim of these projects is to try and prevent the young people in the area from getting involved in a life of crime and anti-social behaviour by getting them involved in fun, educational and vocational programmes. These programmes offer the young people to work together as a team and get to know and meet new friends. These youth diversion projects also try to enhance the relationship between the young people and the Gardaí.
When I began in the LYS and found out about all the different centres and projects, I was amazed, but interested to find out about them all. Although I did not get to see all of them, it was interesting to see how they all interlinked with each other, for example, the Horticultural group working from the Fullflex centre; the sports activities held on a Monday involved trainees from both the CTC and John's street and if available they used the sports facilities in Fullflex. I looked up information on what the rest of the projects worked on and knew some other students who worked in some of them also and were needed to organise youth clubs. The Limerick Youth Service is a very dedicated organisation and works to improve and enhance the lives of the young people in Limerick city. It is a shame that in the current economic status, the Ballyloughran Leisure centre had to be closed as it was a great way for the trainees to get away from the norm of working and class work and get a bit of time to relax and enjoy themselves.
the Limerick Youth Service has accomplished quite an amount on very limited funds and the most meagre if indeed any financial support from our local Government Body. But to be realistic if we are to continue even at our present rate of expansion and hope to develop our Service for the young people of Limerick to anything what we would like it to be then we need further funding and public support
Placement at the Limerick Youth Service was a really eye-opening experience. It made me realise the extent of which the young people of Limerick city are being labelled - wrongly. The LYS shows that if they are given a chance, they can achieve anything they want.
I fell I achieved all my aims and objectives that I set for myself at the beginning of my placement. My communication skills improved immensely throughout this placement, as they are quite essential for this type of work, as the majority of the trainees are very outspoken and it was very important to listen to them. When working in the classroom, I gained an insight into what it is like to work in an educational setting; helping the trainees with their folders, correcting the folders and organising any folders needed. This was a good experience as I am interested in secondary teaching as a possible career, so this gave me an idea of what it is like working in a classroom.
Working in this placement increased my confidence significantly, as in the LYS, the trainees can be difficult to deal with and it is only with confidence that there is any chance of getting the young people to listen. I believe I worked as part of a team while on placement in the LYS. Working in the classroom with the teacher and sometimes another student, we had to work together to decide who worked with who and to get the class to run as smoothly as possible.
Throughout my placement, I completed a Child Protection course and in this we dealt with how to deal with disclosures - by staying calm, listening, believing them, reassuring them, recording what they said in writing and reporting the disclosure.
Overall, my placement in the Limerick Youth Service was quite enjoyable. It was a very beneficial placement as it has given me a great experience in working in an educational environment. During my time there, I reached all my aims and objectives that I was hoping to achieve and gained a lot of experience and knowledge into working in Youth Work.