As a keen motorcyclist, I'm careful to ensure I don't leave my fifteen year old 'bike too long with old petrol in the tank because, if I do, chances are it won't start. Similarly, as a fifty-something youth worker with over twenty five years of professional experience, I think it's more important than ever to freshen up my knowledge and skills-base to ensure I'm not "running on old fuel".
Working with adolescents in an acute health-care setting presents a curious mixture of challenge, reward and opportunity for the youth worker. We are engaging with young people and families in some of life's most difficult circumstances every day; And yet it is the critical nature of this environment that means that young people are often ready to 'open up' and place their trust in us far more quickly than would normally be the case.
"Spiritual Care" is, therefore, core to our service delivery on a daily basis.
I'm halfway in to the advanced module in Multi-disciplinary Spiritual Care with Sick Children and I have to say that the combination of teaching, research, group-interaction and 1:1 support is incredibly exciting for me, professionally and personally. In its focus on the interaction between child/adolescent development, spiritual development and professional practice/ethics it is both affirming and informing my practice.
In short, it's exciting to be a student again and I definitely feel that I'm taking on some 'high-octane' learning and development alongside some great fellow students.
David Baker, a CYM graduate, is Senior Youth Worker at Birmingham Children's Hospital