The NYA Blog
National Youth Agency Trainee to Help Others by Sharing Experiences
16 June 2010
National Youth Agency trainee Jodie McNamara has been invited to share the story of how she has turned her life around, at a celebratory evening dedicated to showcasing community achievement this month.
The 19-year-old, former young offender is to speak to more than 6,000 delegates at the Redeeming Our Communities Community Showcase in Manchester on 30th June 2010.
The event is organised by Redeeming Our Communities in partnership with Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue and will celebrate local success stories from across the region.
“I am so excited about being part of this amazing event,” said Jodie.
“I have worked hard over the past year to transform my life and I want my experiences to provide inspiration to other young people to do the same.”
Jodie started getting into trouble at the age of ten, after hanging around with some local kids who encouraged her to steal and take drugs. Over the years her attendance at school fell, she started bullying other young people and ended up stealing from the community and her family.
Things started to spiral out of control for Jodie, but the turning point came at the age of 18 when her little sister broke down and told her she was afraid of the harm she was doing to herself.
“I was a very angry person at the time – constantly getting into fights. But it never got to court – I’d do those puppy dog eyes to get myself out of it! Then one day I found my little sister crying, telling me ‘you’re not the same person, I’m worried you’re going to die.” It really made me think about what I was doing if I was having this effect on her,” explains Jodie.
Support from family and her old youth worker helped her to take steps to sort her life out. She volunteered with a girls group and then with the New Routes Project of Rochdale Youth Offending Team, talking to offenders who were starting to develop the same patterns as she had.
“That was the start of my new direction,” adds Jodie. “My new boyfriend helped me to settle some demons and then I applied for some paid work with the charity Heywood Youth Link, training peer mentors and adults, helping them to make a real difference to local responses to young people.”
This work brought her into contact with User Voice, which was recruiting ex-offenders to work with the charity to reduce re-offending.
Her role with the charity focussed on promoting the participation of young people, her voices and experiences, and in this capacity she was introduced to the National Youth Agency.
Now, Jodie is working full-time with the National Youth Agency on a traineeship and is studying for a youth work qualification so that she can help other young people turn their lives around too.
“Things are very different for me now and I am really excited about the future. Speaking at the Community Showcase will help me to continue to build my confidence, while demonstrating to my local community members that it is possible to change your direction – with the right help and support.”