Meet the Mary’s Youth Club mentors who have the dream part-time job
PUBLISHED: 10:30 11 January 2017
For many, Islington can be a tough place to grow up. But three times a year, Mary’s Youth Club in Upper Street pays five lucky teens to mentor peers while doing activities they love. Tara Joshi visited the latest batch
“Islington is getting so much worse,” says 16-year-old Neisha Hayes. “Youth crime rates are rising.”
The town hall’s fight against youth crime and violence is no secret. It saw chiefs set aside an extra £500,000 to fight it in last year’s budget.
But the teenager, who works at Mary’s Youth Club, thinks the Upper Street institution might also be able to help.
For Neisha, it’s simple. “Youth clubs get to the bottom of those problems, by getting young people off the streets and giving them something to do.”
One of those “things to do” is getting a part-time job. Mary’s is currently advertising for five “co-producer” positions, an opportunity that goes out every four months for young people aged between 16 and 19.
It takes them through a genuine job application process, including interviews and feedback for those who aren’t successful.
Those who make the cut work in a leadership role with club staff to teach classes and come up with ideas. They also earn £180 a month.
Among the current batch of co-producers is Neisha, a talented pianist and guitarist who has been hosting music classes at the club.
Ana Borges, 18, teaches a basketball class, while Georgia Nash, 17, leads international cookery classes.
Sally Baxter, a youth worker at Mary’s who leads recruitment of the co-producers, explains: “It’s mutually beneficial. Everything we do here is youth-led.
“It puts them in a position of responsibility and gives them a step up in work experience. The co-producer role teaches them punctuality. They wear a uniform. They get a position of leadership.”
She added: “A lot of our former co-producers tell us that when they go for job interviews, they’ll always get people asking about the role when they’re looking at their CV.”
Ana agrees: “I’ve been doing my level two personal training course. So teaching basketball here will look really good when I’m eventually applying for full-time personal training jobs.”
“It’s such a rare opportunity for young people,” adds Neisha. “I’ve made a lot of friends here but also have to remember as a co-producer you’re at work – I’ve had to tell people the same age as me to stop swearing!”
A lot of what the club does helps young people get into work, according to chief exec Balázs Csernus. “We try and help with their confidence and skills,” he said.
“We get a lot of great feedback. We’ll often get young people return and tell us what they’re up to now, be that university or a job.
“We will never be the end destination for these kids – we just want to propel them forward.”
Mary’s Youth Club is running an open evening for its next batch of co-producer hopefuls between 6.30pm and 8.30pm on January 26. Attendance is compulsory to get the job. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07816 073016.