Name: Simon

Age: 26

Location: Belfast

Programme: Volunteer with Pieces Project

How did you first become involved with Extern?

It was through university as a requirement of the course I was doing in Community Youth Work Studies. I needed to do a three-month placement and so came to the organisation.

What has surprised you most about working with Extern?

That it was such a large organisation, working across the island of Ireland. I had initially thought that it was just Belfast-based.

What did you find most challenging in your work?

There was nothing too difficult, because the support I got from within the team was so amazing. When I did encounter a challenging moment, my practice teacher and the team around me offered constructive feedback to help me deal with any issue.

What’s the best thing to happen since you started volunteering with Extern?

The level of learning and development that was encouraged was very impressive. Developing and gaining new thinking skills allowed me to develop further. For example, being able to connect theory to practice and improving critical thinking is a vital and effective quality within youth work practice.

What do you think makes Extern so special?

The support that they give to staff and the freedom of working to an effective youth work practice and ethos. I also got to meet other youth workers and make connections for future work.

What do your friends and family think of you working with Extern?

At first they didn’t know that Extern worked with young people in a youth work environment, so it was a case of breaking down the barriers or stigma and explaining the work that they do and the values and ethics they adhere to.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering for Extern?

I would say to do it with the Pieces Project, as the learning I gained was amazing. I loved my time working there.

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