Tuesday 10 February 2009

My New Meaningful Job

I’ve just arrived for my first day’s work as a Project Worker at the Refuge Day Centre for young homeless people aged 16-25. If you are looking for a similar type of job just buy the Guardian on a Wednesday. It's full of 'meaningful' jobs.

I am really looking forward to working here. I mean I’m going to get an opportunity to assist some of the most disadvantaged people in society to help themselves. According to my job description I’m going to “empower” these young people to make healthy choices in their lives. I’ve always wanted a job with meaning where I could make a difference and now I’ve got one. I hope it lives up to my expectations.

Granted it’s only part-time and the money isn’t great but then again money isn’t everything. I have also registered with a local Social Care agency and will soon get some work with teenagers in care and in supported housing. I will let you all know what that is like.

As I enter the common room a thick yellow cloud of nicotine lingers in the air. There are perhaps nine to ten service users strewn about the furniture with cigarettes dangling from their lips. Several of them look quite stoned and it’s still only half eleven in the morning. But then again if I were homeless I would probably turn to chemical consolation I tell myself.

Another thing that strikes me is that not one of them looks dishevelled, as I thought they would be, if they were sleeping on the street or even in one of those awful hostels.

The majority of the young people are dressed in chav chic, tracksuits, hooded tops, brand name trainers and baseball caps. I will later meet many more like them but also plenty that dress according to their own individual tastes and are not easily pigeonholed by their attire.

I head in to the office to talk with Agnes, the manager, and to find out what my duties and tasks should be for the first day. Instead of instructing me on my duties Agnes instead outlines her own job description. She stresses that I have been hired to deal with the 'clients' (are they paying for this service? No) and that she wants little contact with them as "they do my head in". She reiterates this point several times.

After talking to Agnes I ask myself why she still works with people she has so much disdain for? I become alarmed by the thought that perhaps she started off here like me, enthusiastic and idealistic, but time and experience have worn her down. I'm determined that this will not happen to me or am I just being too naive? Only time will tell.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Weird thought ... how is the common room in this refuge not classed as a public space, and thus not subject to the smoking ban?

I can't even light up in the communal hallway that separates my flat front door from the one upstairs, so how comes these people can smoke in these buildings?