Experienced youth worker Emma Edwards is excited about her new role with the charity Esteem.
Emma, 31, was a Horsham Matters youth worker covering Steyning, Ashurst, Upper Beeding and Bramber before joining Esteem as project manager for the Adur and Worthing Youth COAST project.
A £330,444 grant from the Big Lottery Fund enabled the charity, based at The Old School House, in Ham Road, Shoreham, to employ a project manager, business administrator and project worker for four years.
Emma said: “For a small charity, Esteem has been doing some big things for a long time. They have a good reputation and the young people speak so positively about it. It is very clear that they come first in the planning and in my experience, it is actually quite unique to have them so involved at every stage.
“My hope is that the young adults will continue to be involved in the development of new things. One of the things I like about Esteem is that it is youth led and there are young people involved at every level, which is really important. That is something I would really like to keep encouraging, the voice of those young adults.”
Esteem works with young people aged 14 to 26, offering a range of activities, a drop-in two nights a week and mentor programme working with young people on their goals and motivation.
Most of the young people come from Shoreham, Lancing and Worthing but some come from further afield.
Emma said: “We have this exciting new team who can take on these projects and really develop them and grow them into something to ensure their sustainability.
“In the past, a lot has relied on the volunteers, with some intermittent funding for staff. Four years of funding gives us a solid team with outcomes to achieve and our goal is to have engaged with 100 young people in a year.
“There is a lot of work going on, building on all the stuff that has gone before. My job is to give leadership to all these things and make sure we are going in the right direction.”
Young people are involved at every stage and the aim is to give them empowerment, support, training and experience.
Emma explained: “It is a place where people can grow skills and get involved in new experiences that they might not do otherwise.
“It is a very supportive environment and a very safe space. We operate a buddy system to make it easier.
“It is about empowerment so they can help themselves. Young people don’t always know where they want to be or don’t think they can get there, so a lot of our projects are saying yes you can, you are valuable, and to unmask some of their skills.”
Anyone interesting in volunteering as an adult mentor, supporting young people, can email email@example.com for more information.
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