My experience of supervising placements and working as a Youth Worker

Alumni spotlight | Shreena Gobey, BA (Hons) Youth Work and Community Development (JNC)


Shreena Gobey

I am proud to be a JNC Youth Worker in Leeds, specialising in young people and communities accessing creative arts opportunities and practice. I am Youth Work Manager at Leeds Playhouse- based at First Floor, our dedicated youth arts venue. I care about everyone having a safe space and community to connect with, using their creativity as a tool for exploring and developing, seeing new possibilities in ourselves and the world around us. I’m passionate about Youth Work Practice being part of any sector and industry with common purpose to cultivate change and support individuals holistically. I speak and work from the lump in your throat feeling you get when you know you need to be heard and the fire in my belly. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you've been doing since you 

I am originally from Leicester before moving to Leeds for University. I pride myself on being pretty determined and thank my mum for instilling in me a great work ethic and showing me the importance of independence. I love to cook and dance around my kitchen to a bit of Stevie Wonder at the weekend. Everyone has their vices in life and mine is buying too many trainers! Since graduating I have been working as a Youth Worker in Leeds, through different roles and organisations, I’m very grateful for all the opportunities and sometimes maybe punts people have taken on me. I’ve worked as a support worker for young people with learning disabilities, behaviour support worker in secondary schools, a detached Youth Worker, developed a sibling support service at Leeds Mencap, and championed all things play at Leeds Play Network.

Throughout this time, I’ve also been working with Leeds Playhouse, and I’m now full time Youth Work Manager there; managing our Theatre of Sanctuary programme for young people seeking asylum and refugees, our post 16 alternative education work and learning disability offer for young people called Buzz. My purpose is to bring together Youth Work and creative arts practice to best support and create relevant, exciting opportunities for young people in the Leeds City region. 

United We Wait | Short film A project I ran with HEARTS ā€“ our youth group for young people seeking asylum. This film was made in lockdown to show the resilience of young people experiencing the asylum process. It has gone on to be part of training with the Home Office for case workers.

What have been the highlights and challenges of your career so far

A huge highlight for me must be that I now am the module leader for the Level 5 elective module Drama and Creative Arts in Youth Work and Community Practice. I did this module as a student at Leeds Beckett, the previous module leader, Gaby Paradis, was also manager at First Floor- Leeds Playhouse’s dedicated space for young people. From this module and meeting Gaby, I completed a placement with Leeds Playhouse, an action research project for my dissertation and began my journey into the world of Youth Work in the arts.

Iā€™m so proud of this and love supervising Youth Work students on placement with us and teaching this module. Some of my old lecturers, now being colleagues means I can continue to be inspired by them, and the students like I was when I was studying.

In my job now, as Youth Work Manager- I want Youth Work students to access Leeds Playhouse as a chance to be part of an organization in the city, and develop pathways for their own learning, development, and employment. 

Up front honesty - I can feel imposter syndrome creeping its ugly head working in the arts sometimes. As a young person I never stepped foot in a theatre, and now working at a theatre and championing the arts for everyone can challenge me personally at times, it’s that challenge and reflections of my own and others experiences what drives me though. The challenge is to keep hold of self-belief and worth, combat the sweaty hands in meetings and be open to others, like you want them to be to you. On a more practical side- I’m always challenged by learning and developing my own skills needed in the world of all thing technology – now more than ever. I can be a bit of a technophobe- so my advice for that would be, be patient with yourself, give it a go, and always find a friendly face to ask for help! 

How has your experience studying at Leeds Beckett influenced you and your career? 

My experience of placements in my course has to be the biggest influence on me, from my placements I was able to gain much needed employment, develop my practice and gain experience in different types of organisations- all of which have had influence on my learning during my degree and career, they are also a brilliant way of meeting new people and for me getting to know and be part of a new city. Through different assessment styles I was also able to identify my own strengths and areas for development- I know I am a really practical learner who loves working with others, I found a love of reading and I now know how bad my tendency to waffle can be – word counts in assignments were some seriously good practice for writing precise funding bids. 

What advice would you give someone thinking about studying this course? 

Embrace your passion and need for change! At times we all feel angry at the world and want better for young people, but don’t let that anger eat you up- see the difference that can be made and appreciate how important it is to listen. Get lost in conversations about opinions with lectures and students going off on all sorts of tangents, it’s these conversations that really do help express something and find clarity in thoughts for what you are studying. 

What's next for you? 

I would love to look at further opportunities to support and be part of learning and training programmes in Youth Work. I want to continue to develop my own practice as a module leader as well as a manager. I’m also really keen to continue to find new possibilities of creative arts projects being catalyst of positive change for young people – working alongside researchers and policy makers, to amplify the voices, experiences, and ambitions for young people. 

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