8 Nov 2022  |  Anita Aleksandrova

“You leave ESTEEM but ESTEEM never leaves you”

8 weeks ago I was hired for the “Activities Assistant” internship at ESTEEM. This role predominantly consisted of working alongside Adam Ransom (Wellbeing and Social Youth Worker) to coordinate day trips and drop-in activities for young adults. A large part of my role was planning the “Midsummer Spree!”, a  4-week summer project for 14-17-year-olds with the aim to increase engagement and participation from this age group. An average day included anything from conducting meetings, completing the necessary admin, liaising with other staff members, communicating with young adults and parents as well as taking on additional training and running the activities. 

Overall, my 8-weeks with ESTEEM were nothing short of surprises! From the moment I stepped through the door for my interview, I knew this was an organisation like no other. I remember being extremely surprised to find ESTEEM has their own space to carry out their day-to-day activities with young adults. In my experience, most youth work and charity organisations are often shoved into an office space at the back of a building somewhere, constantly asking for favours from others to utilise their space. After speaking with young adults, it is clear having this space is incredibly important to them. It’s a space they feel they belong to and one they can be completely themselves. 

ESTEEM is a space that young adults feel they belong to and a space where they can be completely themselves. 

ESTEEM has always emphasised the importance of being a “youth-led” organisation and working here, I have definitely felt that. With any task or project, the core message was always to ask young adults their opinion and whether they wanted to be involved. This allows young adults to be exactly that, giving them the respect and trust that society often fails them. As a young adult myself, during my time at ESTEEM, I have certainly found this. Every coworker has treated me with the same respect and degree of capability as anyone else with “legitimate qualifications”. In doing this, not only have I been able to vastly improve my existing skill set, but I have blossomed a confidence in myself and my abilities which I may have previously doubted.

As part of my role, I was incredibly fortunate to have had lots of new and exciting experiences- how many people get to say they went sailing on their first day of a brand new job? While these experiences have given me some of the fondest memories, they also enabled me to build stronger connections with the young adults and people at ESTEEM. I’ve had some extremely eye-opening conversations that left me feeling empowered and inspired. Given how much young people are often ignored in society, I think it’s vital they feel they have a space where they can speak freely and have positive and open conversation. 

Once you join ESTEEM, you never truly leave

While I am deeply saddened that my time at ESTEEM has come to an end, a young adult once told me “once you join ESTEEM, you never truly leave”. Given I’ve committed to working with ESTEEM in the future, I can’t deny how true this is, however, I also feel “you leave ESTEEM but ESTEEM never leaves you”. I’ll always hold on to the experiences, the training, the stories I’ve heard, the connections I’ve made, and the skills I’ve developed.