For the past two years, Lisa Ahlam has been working at Youth Off The Streets’ Koch Centre for Youth & Learning, helping to create a safe space for young people to re-engage with community, education and employment. Along with a team of 5 at the centre, they work with over 150 young people each week in the Macquarie Fields area and surrounds. Lisa tells us a little bit about what it’s like to be a youth worker in her community.
Lisa, what encouraged you to become a youth worker?
Growing up, I did not know what it was like to not have proper support or a positive role model. Becoming a youth worker was a way that I could offer something I did not experience and that is, to be a good role model and be there for young people who might be struggling.
What led you to becoming a youth worker for Youth Off The Streets?
I heard about all the work that Father Chris Riley and the Koch team were doing with the young people in the community and I wanted to be a part of it. I have never worked alongside such passionate, hardworking, open minded people and to be a part of the team here at Koch has been a blessing and a great learning experience.
Can you describe what an average day is like at The Koch Centre for Youth & Learning?
There is never just an ‘average day’ here at Koch. Like most of our programs across the organisation, we deliver multiple services for our young people and the local community. I believe we achieve great results because we have such a great team and most mornings, we begin our day with coffee and a smile. Then it’s work, work, work which includes case management, partnership meetings, court support, juvenile justice programs, school initiatives, community engagement and food preparation for our evening programs. That is just a snapshot of some of the things we do here at Koch.
What do you personally love most about working at a youth agency like The Koch Centre for Youth & Learning?
I have never worked in an organisation, especially within a service like this, where we have the full support of the Community and surrounds in relationship to the work we do. It’s awesome to see a shared passion for creating better opportunities for our young people.
What are some important things a youth worker should always keep in mind?
A youth worker must have heart, patience and passion. I believe these are some of the most important attributes you need have if you want to be a youth worker. Youth workers should never be afraid to share their own journey and they should always be a role model for others.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Having the opportunity to work for Youth Off The Streets has helped me to become a good youth worker, however, this would not be possible without the people around me for all that they contribute to my growth and development here.