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I have the usual labels like Husband, Father and son, but I suppose the label that almost fits all I do is informal educator.

I can and do deliver a particular curriculum where my role requires it, but the experience I bring to bear on a range of subjects gives that information a sense of place and relevance to those who ask.

Throughout my “career” as a youth worker my life was underpinned by my full time role as a firefighter in the London Fire Brigade. I took an opportunity in my early 30’s to become a brigade trainer. This was quite a change from squirting water and rescuing cats from trees and I quickly found that not only did I have an aptitude for it, I enjoyed it too. I taught a range of subjects from first aid, to command and control decision making. I developed the lesson plans from the core skills knowledge or the new pieces of equipment firefighters needed.  This lasted into my late 30’s when I returned to operational duties.


My work as an informal educator began when I was in the 6th form in 1977.  I listened to 8yr olds read. I found I was able to encourage them and help them improve their skills.



When I worked as a part time residential holiday carer I progressed from a team carer to organising the schedule as the assistant holiday director, being trained as I developed. I learned team building and communication exercises, using them in all aspects of my work. The holidays were a week long, often in public school settings and were filled with songs and games and art.  I also helped run two holidays navigating narrow-boats of young people round the Avon ring, set up a charity that sponsored under privileged young people go on the holidays and edited the house magazine.



I worked as a youthworker on a project in a tough Islington estate where deprivation went hand in hand with ignorance.  This ignorance had to be met by informal information delivery; you had to be authoritative but not condescending.



In my 30’s I began working part time for Hertfordshire youth service. They had, (and still do have) a curriculum to deliver, but it was always on the young people’s terms, they could chose to listen or not. Whether I worked in youth clubs or on outreach this was always the case.  Again I received plenty of training in information delivery, communication skills, sexual health training, counselling training, and level 1 drugs awareness.



I took a post as a mobile youth worker, driving a double decker bus to the rural parts of the County. Here the projects I delivered were enabling ones rather than information delivery on sex and drug misuse (though this too was still part of the project remit) and I developed my engagement skills further.  This post further developed my logistical and session planning skills.



My next challenge was working as a carer with young people in care with emotional difficulties for a private care provider.  I cared for a range of young people who were beset by all kinds of circumstantial difficulties and the mental anguish that went with them. This was a challenge in every sense of the word. It was emotionally draining, demanding in that the shifts could be 25 to 49 hours long and sometimes, dangerous.



In 1999 I took a post as an environmental youth worker with Groundwork Hertfordshire. This project proved very successful, engaging young people in schemes that not only developed them personally but also benefitted the community.

At this time I also began working with an events company, delivering team building and fun-day events to both young people and corporate clients


When funding for this project dried up I rejoined the Hertfordshire Youth Service (now Youth Connexions) as a support worker again.  Here my work has again been focussed on delivering information in an informal way. This time however I have been able to deliver formal training sessions to other youth support workers. I devised the training and, with others, organised the evenings.



In the autumn of 2009, at the age of 50 I completed 30 years in the Fire Brigade and retired. In order to keep from getting bored I volunteered my services to my local school, Freman College where they now employ me as a cover teacher. It was then that I re-discovered just how much I enjoy the school environment and delivering information. I like the challenge of finding the approach or fact that will switch on light bulbs of learning in people’s heads. Other training delivery opportunities have also recently opened up after giving year 7 pupils at Broxbourne School a talk on puberty.


My latest challenges have been at Middlesex University where I have begun a degree in creative and media writing.

There is other work I could mention more of, mini-cabbing, decorating, landscaping and rubbish clearance, fire safety training, professional pall bearing, care-taking and even a spell as a receptionist for a magazine.


One last thing; teaching is storytelling.  I have been telling at a club and on other invited occasions for a number of years now and find the impact that oral storytelling has on groups can be almost magical.

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