As a member of our Youth Engagement Panel, Tom shares his knowledge and experience to make sure what we do, and how we do it works for young people. He blogs on his inspiration to get involved in youth work and why he recommends volunteering to youth workers and young people.

Tom Smallman (pictured far left) with rest of the Y Care International Youth Engagement Panel.

In the past few years I have worked alongside many young leaders from YMCAs all around Europe but I wanted to meet other young leaders who have a varied scale of life experience.

Tom has shared his knowledge and experience to make sure what we do, and how we do it works for young people.

Tom Smallman and the panel have advised Y Care International on many issues.

I applied for the Youth Engagement Panel as I wanted to learn more about the work Y Care International and the International Citizen Service. I had heard plenty about already in my work for YMCA Worcestershire. To be a part of the panel has given me a new passion to learn about the fantastic work Y Care International do and learn more about the work they do and how on the panel we can have a positive impact.

As a youth worker on the YMCA NCS programme we’re busy planning logistics in order to make the experience the best possible for the young people. I specifically supporting the staff and young people to make sure any additional needs or situations that arise are solved in the best way possible.

My passion is to work with young people and even in a management role I still love to work on the ground with young people.  On our most recent programme we used outdoor activities to engage young people… including a 13 mile hike!!

Outside of the programme team, our role as coordinators is to ensure that the young people and their teams are supported with their social action projects. This will mean that they successfully complete their NCS programme and enable them to graduate. In addition to this, we run a YMCA Worcestershire NCS Youth Board with our NCS graduates who work with us to evaluate the programme and help make it better for future participants.

I have seen one young person from my YMCA volunteer overseas with Y Care International. Her experience on the programme enabled her to grow, develop and learn so many new skills as a young person. She took the challenge to change her world and I have noticed a significant improvement in her confidence when meeting new people; she now lives in her own flat and is currently working full time as a chef. Her  experience was so valuable and it’s important for others to see that and know that they can achieve the same regardless of their current situation – they just have to believe in themselves to achieve.

I highly recommended volunteering and believe it would help improve a YMCA youth worker’s skills. By volunteering with Y Care International it can help show other young people in your YMCA how they could benefit from this fantastic opportunity to learn and engage in something they may never have experienced before.