It is another Monday morning, it is dark and it is not raining, which is a bonus I guess. I am up and about early, today is a full and interesting one with plenty of varied work to get done. Hubby is recovering slowly for which I am very grateful and things are returning to some sort of normal.
This month I have decisions to make. The work I have done for the past 16 years is to be no more. Government cuts and changes to the Child agenda have meant restructuring and reorganising of the way work is to be done. When you have a job over a number of years certain things start to happen. You build relationships, with co workers and partnership workers, with young people and families. You find out what your strengths are and where you are weakest. You take on training and develop your skills. You begin to understand how, why and what is to be done and set about to do it. In the past 16 years there have been lots of changes, but nothing quite like this. I know it is not possible to take millions of pounds out of a service and continue the service as it was, I know that change is inevitable. I just wish I could decide how to I should deal with it.
It is not just watching people who I know are skilled and good at their work dissolving into tears as they realise there is no place for them in the new structure. It is not just the feeling of hopelessness that seems to be hanging in the air. It is not even concern for what will become of myself, my mortgage and my confidence, overall the feeling is one of numbness. I have to decide between no job, and a job with half as much work again for lots less money per month, which I may not be offered.
Life will go on, I will complete the application form for the job I am already doing, I will even attend the interview for the job I already have, where I will be tested in half an hour in an office in the Town Hall, by people who already know exactly what my skills are and how I do my job.
I know some will say I am lucky and in a way I am. I have had years of steady work, doing something I love and what I have done has made a difference to lots of people’s lives. I have a lovely husband who is earning, although not enough to sustain us without my salary too. I also know that every week has a Monday morning, a good percentage of which will always be dark and wet and rainy. I know that there are sunny days ahead, that no one is dead, that we have our health and we are happy. As the big stuff is threatening to overwhelm me and my colleagues, it is worth remembering that we are but a speck of dust on the surface of the universe. That what goes around will surely come around and all things will pass. Cliches aside, it is all a bit rubbish. Picking myself up I repeat the mantra that has got me through the past 2 years of this process, I have a job today, today I will do my job.
So when the restructure is done, when those who stay are staying and those who are going are gone, what will become of the young people the new structure cannot cater for. Who will run the youth clubs, welcome the lonely and the lost young people through the door, week in and week out. in the many, many fabulous spaces where lovely, qualified and dedicated people make a difference to so many young people’s lives. A hall, a pool table and a kitchen, basic requirements. Who knew that food was so important in working with teens? I have seen youth clubs set up in church halls, in scout huts, on mobile vans and in parks. I have put up thousands of notice boards, Christmas trees and Rules of the Club posters. I have worked in sports halls where the rain comes through the roof and in state of the art dedicated spaces full of resources. In every one teenagers are welcomed and valued, are listened to and encouraged, are challenged and motivated, are cared for and sometimes saved. From the quiet, hood over face, sitting in the corner teen, for whom just actually walking through the door has been an achievement, to the loud, shouty bunch of boys, to the girls with attitude and dress sense to match, the youth club can and does become a second home. Here they have always found adults who want to get to know them, will help them to grow and will allow them to make mistakes and understand just how very difficult it is to be a teenager.
Whatever happens next in the world of work, I have been lucky to have had an amazing job, and maybe, just maybe it is time for a change. Perhaps this process will actually turn out to be brilliant and new opportunities will come my way. I just hope what is left behind is enough to support those young people who need to be noticed and to be supported. I also hope I find a way to keep the roof over our heads and the food in the cupboard. Watch this space.