Press Releases 2016

My Youth Work Story by Matthew Lewis


To celebrate Youth Work Week, UWTSD graduate Matthew Lewis shares his youth work journey experience.

Youth Work Week is an annual event that provides youth workers and young people with the opportunity to celebrate the achievements and impacts of youth work.

This story begins with a young person living in a Cardiff suburb, which has a long history and reputation of crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour. Living in Cardiff as a ‘city boy’ meant that a youth club was always a short distance away, where I would find myself socialising with friends and engaging in music activities, a huge interest of mine growing up. My local youth club was where my youth work journey began, where I discovered an interest in youth work activities and workshops and what it had to offer, and staying out of trouble on the streets. During my years at high school, I struggled with many of my subjects, and this was where youth work would ‘fit in the gap’ of my educational needs to enable me to reach my full potential. The informal approach of youth work gave me the tools and ability to progress further in my education and enabled me to get to where I am today. By receiving this support as a young person, I developed a passion to become a Youth Worker. This passion meant that I would have a unique role and position to support young people in today’s generation. Becoming a Youth Worker enabled me to provide the support to others that I once received as a young person. A strong belief of mine in life is that you must remember the help that you have been given by others, and you must help others when given the opportunity. 

As my transition began from becoming a young person to a young adult, Youth Work would play a key role in my success of this crucial time of my life. My education at this time included five GCSEs from A to C, and two A Levels in sixth form, which created and completed my pathway to University. Completing my GCSE’s and my A Levels and going to University seemed impossible, but it was made possible with my dedication, motivation and the support that I had received from my teachers, family and friends and Youth Workers. I would also graduate from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David with a 2:i degree in Youth and Community Work, which also seemed impossible from my point of view, but we can all surprise ourselves sometimes. 

What have I done and what am I doing now? 

Throughout my years as a Youth Worker, I have worked in many youth clubs across Cardiff, working with diverse groups of young people. Working in youth clubs across Cardiff has enabled me to develop not only as a Youth Worker, but also as a person, where I value every experience. Every time I have worked in a different youth club with a different group of young people, I have learned something new. I have realised throughout my years as a Youth Worker that in life you are always learning, and you will never have all the answers to every question that you may be asked, and to expect the unexpected. I am now a Youth Work Coordinator but I will shortly begin my new journey as a Youth Mentor, where I will be working with young people on a one to one basis to support their needs, putting all of my experience, skills and abilities to the test.