My Journey to HOT
I guess you could say I have had a somewhat unconventional route to end up working for the HOT team. Having little enthusiasm for school and leaving at the age of 16 with no qualifications, I found myself working on building sites as an apprentice electrician. Qualified at 19, I drifted about from country to country chasing money and good times.
It wasn’t until I found myself working in a shipyard in Rotterdam – at the age of 24 – that I questioned where my life was going?, what I really wanted out of it? and all I really wanted to do was to help young people. So that night in the picturesque village of Hellevoetsluis I planned my future. I would return to Scotland with the intention of educating myself with the ultimate goal of becoming a teacher. This was the only way – I believed at the time – to help young people, so that’s what I wanted to do.
I returned to Scotland, signed up for Highers at college and started on my journey. After this course, I signed up for HNC Social Science courses, which lead to the University of Edinburgh to study Classics. After my Masters, I went to work in several schools to gain experience for teaching. It was during this time where I saw teachers doing an incredibly difficult job – under pressure with very little time to spend talking through young people’s issues or to help them in any way. The amount of work behind the scenes, along with constant paperwork and ‘jumping through hoops’ teachers do is unbelievable – they are all just incredible for doing this job.
My role in school allowed me to talk with young people on a 1:1 basis, listening to them and giving them the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. This seemed really beneficial for the young people I worked with and I wanted to develop this further. This made me realise that if I did want to help the more vulnerable young people and have time to spend with them I couldn’t go into teaching.
It was a friend who introduced me to the Voluntary sector. I didn’t know much about this, actually assuming that everyone working in the third sector was a volunteer. After months of research, I found HOT (Health Opportunities Team) a company who had the same goals as me – to listen to what young people want, stand alongside them and help them to make informed choices and to be there for them when they need us. The interview went well (obviously or I wouldn’t be writing this blog) and I started at HOT just before Christmas last year.
My first day was… for want of a better word, a wee bit ‘strange’. Everyone seemed really smiley and happy. I felt a little uneasy, to begin with. This was something I wasn’t used to. Maybe while the boss was showing me around for the very first time people would attempt to seem happy and content in the workplace, but after they had left you’d get the ‘dirt’ on how things really are. But this place felt different. After a few hours of everyone being happy I had to ask “What’s it really like working here?”, and their response was a smile. Not a glaikit-emotionless-plasticy-false smile – not one of those smiles where you look happy on the outside but are simultaneously dying of boredom and resentment on the inside. But they were genuinely happy.
8 months in…
After working here for almost 8 months now I get it. I come into work every morning with a smile on my face. The same smile that confused me all those months ago. I get to spend all day helping young people make informed choices – listening to what they have to say and giving them someone they can rely on when they are feeling at their most vulnerable.
I now run 3 ‘Feel Good’ groups in the south of Edinburgh promoting emotional and physical health, coordinate Sexual Health And Relationships Education in multiple schools,provide emotional health group work and lead a Sexual/Mental health Drop In.
I feel nurtured in an environment that is great to be in. I’ve been given the tools to develop myself
I have continuous training in child protection, trauma, sexual health, Substance Use advice, food hygiene etc. – and feel prepared for anything that may occur. I do feel lucky. Even at this point writing this blog I’m smiling. I can’t help it.
It’s become an involuntary reaction to working for HOT. This job has taught me many lessons over the past 8 months, one of which is that I’m important
– we all are.
“Climbing is the only cure for gravity”