Banbury care worker becomes face of council's new youth support services
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Minette Kempsell works for Oxfordshire County Council, supporting children and young people experiencing difficulties and helping them make positive choices with their lives.
Thanks to the new online targeted youth service on the council’s OXME youth website, the council hopes to have a wider reach in helping young people cope with problems and challenges.
Minette said: “I’m part of a trailblazing team. Oxfordshire County Council introduced its targeted youth support service last year. It’s different, I think groundbreaking, in the way it supports and engages with young people.
“Before taking up this role, I was used to young people being referred to me by a school or social services. Although that still happens, what we’re trying to do through the targeted youth support service is encourage young people to approach us directly.”Many young people are now seeking help from the council’s youth support services online, via the OXME, which is Oxfordshire County Council’s dedicated young people’s website.
On OXME, young people between the ages of 11 and 18 can complete a self-referral form, and they will then be put in contact with one of the council’s care workers, like Minette.
Minette added: “During these informal meetings, I listen, make suggestions, encourage, and share my personal experiences. But importantly, I don’t instruct or judge. These young people have had the confidence to come to me, often at very difficult points in their lives. They’re therefore more likely to be open to my professional suggestions, but if they feel they’re being told what to do, barriers can come down quickly.
“There’s also the broader community work, designed to bring young people together. I’ve worked with colleagues, setting up mass participation football games in parks. Watching the joy, energy, and enthusiasm of those taking part is fantastic. Seeing them making new friends and discovering people who have similar interests. These interactions are likely to be positive for both their physical and mental wellbeing."
Minette says that if it wasn’t for a positive experience she had with a youth worker when she was younger, she wouldn’t have had the direction in life to end up in the position she is.
She said: “One of the reasons I’m passionate about what I do and the experiences I share is because I personally benefitted from a youth worker when I was younger. I needed that guidance, sense of self-worth and the belief that I could make something of myself.
“Because of the youth worker, I decided to go into higher education, studying public services at Banbury and Bicester College, and later a foundation degree in health and social care at Oxford Brookes University. Getting those qualifications allowed me to do what I do today. To make a difference to the lives of young people.
“I encourage any young person who feels they need support, guidance, or simply want someone to listen to them, to get in touch.”
For more information about Oxfordshire County Council’s youth support services visit, https://oxme.info/