A week in the Life of a Targeted Life Skills Key worker

Hi! My name is Claire Thompson and I’m Start 360’s Northern trust’s Targeted Life Skills Key worker. I have been in this post for 6 months and I absolutely love it! I suppose I should begin by saying that no week or even day is the same for our service. Targeted Life Skills (TLS) is an evidence based early intervention programme, and therefore a set programme. However, we do tailor our delivery based on the needs, environment and size of the group we are working with. This can take quite a bit of planning to ensure effective delivery of the sessions for the best outcomes for the young people we work with.

I start working each day at 8am, where I settle in with a cup of coffee, check and answer the phone messages and emails or pass on the information to my colleagues. This is also a great opportunity to prepare for any groups I have that day, photocopy evaluation sheets and organising my materials making any adaptations required for the needs of the group that day.

The group size we work with range from a groups of 6 to about 25 and the age range is 11 to 21. I have worked with secondary schools, primary 7 classes, youth clubs, NRC classes, training colleges/facilitates anywhere that young people congregate and are happy to meet with me.

I deliver a whole range of topics like effective communication, healthy relationships, health and well being, dealing with difficult emotions, social media and many more as well as harm reduction sessions around Alcohol, cannabis, energy drinks and other substances.

I personally cover the coast line from Ballycastle to Carrickfergus, Ballymena , Ballymoney and the pockets in between. So I’m often out on the road travelling from group to group or meeting new groups and planning future sessions. I love group work and the opportunity to work and learn with the young people I come into contact with.

Once I finish up my groups or on a day with no groups that means one thing Paper work. This for me is about collating the data received from evaluations, reflecting on the thoughts and experience of the young people and tailoring my delivery based on their feedback. Reporting to my line manager and collecting the evidence which backs up the benefits of the programme. So although this is not my favourite part of the job I value to importance of this piece of work.

I do have lunch at some point in the day but again the time differs dependant on the time of my group work. I like to get out for a walk around the town and I’m often joined by at least one colleague. Self care is very important to Start 360 and they encourage and promote self care, verbally and in the gift of a self care hour once a month and with excellent supervision from my line manager.

I finish my day at 4pm , where I meet up with husband and head home for some family time !!!!