My first two weeks as a Children North East Participation Worker

Starting a new role at a new organisation is always a challenge, regardless of how confident and extrovert you are. However, I have to say my first two weeks have been pleasantly relaxed and welcoming, whilst absorbing a lot of information.

On my first day, I was excited to get started. Despite understanding my job title and role was Participation Worker, I knew little of what my day-to-day tasks would comprise. My line manager, like all the staff, was welcoming, warm and friendly. We discussed many different aspects of the current Poverty Proofing and Participation Team, focussing on the two projects I’d split my week between.

Utilising my previous experience of Youth Work and Social Action, I have been given the lead on an #iwill Social Action project. This is based within a school environment, incorporating the mentoring model, which the Youth Team delivers. Also, very excitingly, I have the challenge of working on a Poverty Truth Commission. Coming on board to short term (2 year) projects once they’ve started was a challenge: getting up to speed with the process and intricacies of both took some time. Thankfully, the whole team bounce off each other, reflect together and share examples of pieces of work that may be relevant.

I was excited that the two projects were a mix of local and regional focusses, with one having a national relevance. It soon became evident that the inequality of poverty was a driving factor for many of the projects within the team. Children North East is currently undergoing Poverty Proofing© itself as an organisation. In my first week, I sat in on training with staff from across the charity, covering aspects of what it means to be ‘Poverty Proofed’. Having studied inequalities, intersectionality and subsequent effects on children, young people and families, I was surprised at my passionate response to the statistics and videos shown during the training (yes, I did cry). Particularly Seen and Heard, a social action project from some high school students in Scotland to raise awareness and tackle the stigma associated with poverty. This was an excellent start to my work on the Poverty Truth Commission, which aims to give a voice to those with lived experience of poverty.

As with all inductions to a new organisation, I had policies to read (sometimes the list seemed never-ending) and mandatory training. Likewise, I had one-to-ones with my new team members to get to know them whilst absorbing the myriad of current, past, and future projects. I was keen to hear the differing backgrounds of the team and the skills and abilities each member brings. Furthermore, I had meetings scheduled with all of the Senior Management Team, to which I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t quite grasped the size and scale of the charity I had become a part of, which surprised me that time is given to meet (sometimes virtually) with new employees, providing space to understand senior leaders’ roles and ask direct questions.

Overwhelming, I have garnered the passion and drive that the team, and the individuals employed, have toward ensuring the voices of babies, children, young people and families are heard locally, regionally and nationally. Equally, the respect and compassion the charity as a whole shows toward their staff. I look forward to working, developing and flourishing in my new environment.