Junior talks about how working for Bristol City Council has changed him from a difficult youth to a youth play worker, engaging with young people who are dealing with similar problems to those which he experienced as a child.
This story was made during a collaborative workshop between Bristol Stories and Bristol City Council's Building Futures scheme, which helps young people start and develop their careers in the council.
My name is Robert Messiah, and I am employed Play Worker by Bristol City Council and I am base in Lockleaze on a day-to-day basis. My job entitles me to do a lot of site maintenance – make sure the playground’s up to scratch and suitable for young people to come and visit.
The kind of activities I do with young people and children at the adventure playground are always varying from sports like basketball, football, to structured play, to all kinds of running games… all that kind of genre of things.
I decided to get into this line of work because I believed I could give something back in the sense that working with young people they’re very often misunderstood or, you know, they haven’t found that person to confide it and get on with and… people like myself I hope that I can get that message across and get out there to various different young people.
And the problems young people face today? Well, there’s loads of issues from neglect, self worth issues… you know, abuse, bullying… so many things going on and I think it’s our job to kind of reassure them that these things can go away with coping skills and methods.
Sorts of difficulties people have in my line of work are the connection. I think the connection always has to be real and pure between the individual which you are working with, in the sense that you have to know yourself to be able to give something to these young people in the sense that, you know, just reassure them that you’re there for them.
I also take part in event days, which happen once a year. There’s, like, two event that go on: there’s one at College Green and there’s one at Felix Road – it’s like a playday event with different cultures and young people from different walks of life come together and eat food and enjoy playing and incorporate interactive things with all kinds of children age groups.
So, what difference do I hope to make to the young people I work with? The difference I hope to make is a difference that, sometimes in my own experience, I never made, in the sense that there was always something I could have done more – you know I had my own issues with being bad at school and whatever else… It’s just, hopefully to, at the end of the day, just to install the message that there’s always something more you could be doing – think about what you’re doing. Try and find people to talk to and get issues of your chest that you’ve got – you know, stop walking around carrying this load all the time, and these things are hard if you come from certain families or you’re in certain areas but the Play Service and people you work with, I hope the workers there you can confide in on that kind of level.
And what about me? Well, I hope that I can move on to different aspects of the job. I’d like to be a residential worker because I think that would give me the time to have more on-on-one with youth and get my point across. Prefer to being in a wider spectrum of young people because it’s a lot difficulter then, but I’m happy in what I’m doing right now, and I’m going to keep doing it, and that’s about it.