At Salmon, we welcome students wanting to do student placements at Salmon so they can get experience in working in their chosen field. As for many of them, it's their first time being in that environment and volunteering at Salmon is a starting point where they can further get involved in youth work.

Daryl Castillo has been with us for a two and a half months and has loads to share about his time at Salmon. Read below:

My name is Daryl and I am completing the first year of my BA Applied Social Science Community Development & Youth Work degree at Goldsmiths University.  As part of my learning, I have been on student placement at the Salmon Youth Centre from mid-late March to the end of May. I thought Salmon would be ideal to do my first year placement as I am familiar with the local area – I actually went to secondary school at St. Michael’s when I was young, and even though I am relatively inexperienced in this field, I myself am a product of youth work – attending youth clubs when I was in secondary school.

 

My first taste of Salmon (bad pun, sorry) started at the Mixables disability club. Because of my previous experience of working closely with young people with disabilities, I was able to get comfortable immediately and see what approach Salmon take for people of their particular needs.  As I expected, they got very engaged with the activities, and developed good relationships with them.  I even recognised a few of them from their previous exploits from Heart n Soul’s Squidz Club in the past!  I was also assigned to do work with a young person with specific needs as part of Salmon’s Connect 2 programme.  I discovered that working one-to-one with someone having learning difficulties is more of a challenge than working with a group of them.  However, I have also learned to communicate effectively with him, and he is able to learn on our trips together.

I will freely admit that the 10-13’s were the most challenging to work with – particularly the boys.  However, working with them made me discover a skill I never thought I had – football management.  Surprising, given my relative disinterest in the sport and being a poor player of it myself.  I found out that my positive motivational enthusiasm combined with shrewd tactics along with easy-going banter worked well to win two leagues and reach one final with the teams I managed.  The football clubs, along with the Easter programme with 6-9s and 10-14s, really developed positive connections with a number of young people at Salmon, of which I thoroughly appreciative of.  This extends to the 14+ age groups, where I would often supervise the gym and advise the young people there on how to spar in boxing by instilling good habits and tactics, and advise new gym users on how to operate the machines.  I found the 14+ age groups to be the most intriguing, as many of them come across as intelligent young people with so much potential and good senses of humour that I really appreciate.

It was interesting to note that I found myself doing plenty of physical activities at Salmon, given my specialties – I am a musician who loves drawing artwork in my spare time – but it was a good way to engage with young people in unfamiliar territory.  However, I would manage to put those guitar playing skills to good use in both the Mixables clubs and the new Live Lounge sessions – the latter of which is where I helped Salmon apprentice Remi Jackson find his voice and confidence on-stage.  I realised that some young people are often scared or nervous of performing in front of an audience, because they are aware that their age group peers are a difficult crowd to please and lack the confidence to perform.  My advice would be to work hard on the talents they feel passionate about, keep practicing and perfecting their craft, and the end results will be as satisfying as anything.

In closing, I have really enjoyed my time at Salmon Youth Centre and learned a great deal on how to be a good youth worker.  Along with gaining a lot of knowledge, I even manage to lose about half a stone in weight during my tenure, so I know it must be good for me!  However, it is not the end – I will do occasional volunteering during the summer to see how everyone is doing while continuing to develop my connections with the young people at Salmon as well as contribute to the Live Lounge sessions.  I hope I left some kind of legacy on some of the young people there, and if not, I can always claim I unlocked all the characters for Street Fighter 4 there – of which I am undisputed champion of course.

"I found the 14+ age groups to be the most intriguing, as many of them come across as intelligent young people with so much potential and good senses of humour that I really appreciate." - Daryl Castillo (32)

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