Darren Browne started working with Local Solutions a month ago and his co-worker John Dobson started just two weeks ago. They work at the recently re-launched AIMS (Accomodation, Intense Mentoring and Skills) service, in the new Young People’s hub on Scotland Road.
The AIMS service works with 16-21-year-old's who are supported by leaving care services, have experienced the care system or who are not in education, employment or training. The service supports these young people with personal and social development skills, accommodation, independent living and life skills and education, employment and training.
Both Darren and John knew of Local Solutions before they started their work with the AIMS service. John’s brother was on the supported lodgings service 15 years ago, he saw first hand the impact that Local Solutions had on his brother’s life. Darren’s first paid youth work job was with Local Solutions when he was just 19 and it started his career.
We spoke to them both about their experience with the AIMS service at Local Solutions so far, here’s what they had to say.
Where did you work before?
Darren: “I worked with a leaving care company and I’ve also done residential work.”
John: “I worked in a children’s care home prior to this role, but before that I was a teaching assistant.”
Why did you apply to work for the AIMS service?
Darren: “I’d got to the point where I wasn’t getting many hours. I’d done information, advice and guidance work before and absolutely loved it, and then this popped up.”
John: “I’ve always wanted to be a mentor. When I was at Uni It was a job that I wanted to go into, I wanted to work specifically in a school, but they lost the funding so when this came up it was a perfect opportunity to jump into it.”
What do you do here at the Young People’s Hub?
Darren: “It varies day to day; no day is ever the same. The whole time I’ve been here I don’t think I’ve done the same thing any day. We work through a number of different booklets with the young people. In the hub we run a breakfast club in the morning from 9:30 till around 12, it’s a drop in so they can just come down and there’s tea and coffee and toast. So, they can just come in and have a chat. There’s internet access on the computers, so if they need to do anything for a job application or research they can. That’s the idea behind the hub, you want it to be a space where they can come in and feel comfortable.”
John: “With the workbooks there’s four mentors and we all take the lead on one of them. At the moment Darren is doing life skills and I’m doing training, education and employment. Mines all about how to write a CV, giving them information about that happens in an interview, how to structure a cover letter, where to apply for jobs and so on.”
How are you finding it?
Darren: “It’s nice to be working with young people who actually need your help. Some of the places I’ve worked in they just don’t engage with you at all, but here you can see the difference that the work you’re doing with them actually makes. You can see the big impact. They could be on the cusp of eviction, but we’ll go and do some work with them and they’ll manage to extend that.”
John: “I’m really enjoying it to be fair, I feel like I’ve done really well to get where I am. At the moment I’m still getting used to things but so far I’m really enjoying it and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and working with young people who would benefit from our programme.”
What do you think of Local Solutions?
Darren: “I’ve actually worked for Local Solutions before. It’s like I’ve gone full circle. I started in the Young person’s advisory Service when I was 19 through the Future Jobs Fund, that was my first paid youth work job. So that gave me my foundation block and I went off and ended up doing a degree and now I’ve come back. It’s nice, it’s a good company.”
John: “I didn’t know much about Local Solutions but 15 years ago my brother used to be on the supported lodgings, he wasn’t one of the easiest young people to work with, and he was with Local Solutions for about two years. They were his mentors and they helped him turn his life around and get a career. Even though he was here nearly 15 years ago and is now nearly 30, he always returned and is still getting support whenever he needs it. They never forget about you and that’s what I like about it. The fact that I’m now a mentor, just like what he had, is such an opportunity.”
Why is AIMS a vital service for the young people you support?
Darren: “You tend to find that from 18 onwards no one really wants to know you and a lot is put on the family. For the people who don’t really have a family network and don’t really have a social network around them they tend to just slip through the cracks, so we’re there to make sure that everyone achieves the best outcomes that they can to support people when they need it. Without projects like this we’d have a lot more homeless people.”