Sunday 8th December, 2013

12 days: "I just want to see young people become the people they were made to be." Jon Sanders, Youth Development Worker

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Jon felt that he stumbled into youth work but has never looked back. He feels he can make a real difference to young people. He wants to help them feel valued and to see them grow in self-esteem and confidence. Jon just wants to see young people become the people they were made to be.

One of the best things about youth work for Jon is that “every day is different. Full of variety and fun; depth and meaning”.

Jon has been part of the Romsey Mill community for nearly 10 years, originally through a CYM alternative placement which involved helping run the Romsey Terriers football team.

In 2009, he began working as a Romsey Mill Youth Development Worker, based in Cambourne in a joint role with Cambourne church. For a new settlement with lots of potential, there were not many facilities available for young people and not a lot for them to do. Jon spent a lot of time getting to know young people and what they might be interested in doing.

Young people there felt distanced from Cambridge. With little to do in their own community, there has been a problem with a lot of anti-social behaviour. Jon has seen first-hand how this can be reduced through the provision of positive activities and also encouraging them to be active members of their community.

He met with young people where they were; on the streets, hanging out, and finding out what they might want to do. A music studio was set up, enabling young people to follow interests and discover new skills. Football groups were popular and Jon also undertook 1-to-1 with students from Comberton Village College.

“If it wasn’t for your work he’d probably be in prison.” 

This comment came from a grateful mum after her 16-year-old son was let off an expected year’s custodial sentence. A significant factor was his positive community engagement, encouraged and enabled through Jon’s constant support.

Jon is now just beginning a new phase with Romsey Mill as a Youth Worker for the Abbey/East Barnwell area of Cambridge. He is looking forward to working with other organisations, schools and churches in the area, and is excited about the possibilities for positive change in the lives of the young people there. He wants to build strong relationships, listen well and help with the difficult stuff that young people are facing, encouraging them to have a positive impact on their own community.