Where flexible working works - Jobs for mums

Career Focus - The World of Teaching

Youth Development Worker - Corrina Stratton-Darling

Corrina has three sons and lives in Cornwall. She is a Youth Development Worker specialising in setting up youth and play clubs where there hasn't be the resource previously.


The Interview

Name  Corrina Stratton-Darling

Location  Newlyn, Cornwall

Family  Married to John, 3 sons - Dylan (12), Connor (9) and Gabriel (5)

Job title: Part-time Youth Development Worker

How did you become a Youth Worker? What is your background?

I had worked part-time when Dylan was little for Nottingham City Council teaching pre-school gymnastics, called Notts Tots. I didn't have any training when I got the job - I was trained as I did the role. I was doing Notts Tots at outreach (which is where you take the classes out to the community rather than running classes and getting people to attend at a fixed location), I was loading the van with equipment and a load of truanting teenagers were hassling me..I decided to get them to help me load the van and the leisure centre manager came out and said to me 'you've got a real way with teenagers, have you thought about youth work?!' and that got me thinking!!

I applied to Nottingham County Coucil for a part-time youth work post where they offered on the job training. It was 5 hours a week. I got the job and the hours were ideal as it was two nights a week 7-9.30pm which meant my husband could look after the children whilst I was at work. After that I applied for a development post which was half-time (18 hours a week) - this involved setting up new youth clubs in areas where there werent youth clubs before in Inner City locations. I was involved in arranging parenting classes for teenage mums, sexual health etc. This job fitted in fine as by this time Connor was at play-school and Dylan at School. I was able to work from home and arrange meetings around Connor being at pre-school, which meant I was still able to pick the children up and drop them off.

When I found out I was pregnant with my youngest son Gabriel I stopped working for a while and became a full-time stay-at-home Mum as we also relocated to Cornwall. When Gabriel started at pre-school I began working again as a part-time volunteer for a church based organisation. After a year a part-time youth work devlopment position became available, I applied and that is the job I do now!

How did you choose Youth Work?

I didn't really choose it - it chose me! I think I have always been able to relate to teenagers really well, perhaps because I had my son Dylan when I was young I've grown up in a slightly different way to other people! Also, there is a common conception that young people (esecially teenage boys) are scary on some level - I guess the media image of groups of lads wearing hoodies harrassing people in the street doesn't help! I don't relate to them like this and find young people have an awful lot to give if you give them the chance.

What training courses have you done?

I've attained several NVQ's in Youth Development Work and also individual modules related to sexual health teaching, sexuality and conflict management. These are day courses at my local college with child-friendly hours. Most youth work training is at weekends and evenings and 'on the job'.

How many hours a week was it?

As I said training is usually child-friendly hours either in the day, evenings or weekends. Some local councils will pay for childcare whilst you attend these courses. Councils are very keen to welcome parents into the youth/play work force and actively encourage Mums and Dads to apply and will assist you in your training.

Roughly, how much did your training cost?

It was all free, paid for by the council.

Did you do a placement?

Yes, I was paid on my placement as I was doing the job and training at the same time.

How did you find your first job?

It was in the local press.

Where do you look for vacancies? Are there specialist websites? newspapers/magazines?

Normally in the local paper for your local area. Employers advertise also on www.0-19.co.uk and there are sometimes jobs in specialist titles like The Big Issue.

How does the job fit round your family life?

It is fantastic as I work in the day having planning meetings and planning sessions when the children are at school. I run my clubs in the evenings when my husband is home from work.

What is the earning potential?

I earn well above the national average, un-qualified and qualified pay is different. Un-qualified is between £5-£6 per hour with all your training for free, plus 6 weeks paid holiday per year. Once you are qualified you can earn between 18k-24k full time, part-time is always pro-rata to a yearly salary.

How many hours do you work a week?

I work between 10-18 hours per week, term time only. I choose what clubs I am involved in within the organisation.

Is the job rewarding?

Very, its also sad, funny, hard, easy, creative - very emotional. You have highs and lows, one minute all the children are arguing then the next laughing. No one session is the same and it keeps the job exciting and interesting.

What is the best thing in your opinion about being a youth worker?

The chance to make a difference to young peoples lives - you are putting something back into your local community.

Do you think it is a job that fits in well with being a Mum?

Yes, definitely on a part-time basis. Especially if you have a partner who works days.

Any advice for a Mum or Dad wanting to start training?

Get in touch with your local council (find your local council details in the directory on the Direct Gov website www.direct.gov.uk/Dl1/Directories/fs/en ask to speak to the Youth and Play department and find out if they have any vacancies or if they know of any relevant training courses in your area. Also lots of charities run youth centres and they are more than happy to let you attend a session to see what its like. Churches also often run groups, you don't have to have a religious belief to work for them. YMCA also have a youth work arm.