Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Steve and I live in Redditch, a reasonably sized town just south of Birmingham. For the last 20 + years I have worked within the voluntary sector supporting charities to fundraise and local communities to address and work to challenge social injustice. I now work for the Catholic Church as the Head of Development, supporting parishes to fundraise and to deliver social change in local communities.
What made you want to become an Area Representative?
I sort of fell into the role of Area Rep. When the previous organisation we were hosting through closed down, I was asked to be a Rep with MyEducation as I had some 9 years’ experience of hosting at that time and knew the majority of local families who were hosting.
How long have you been an Area Representative?
I have been an Area Rep for about four years officially, but had been supporting young people placed with local families for a number of years previously by providing opportunities to visit other parts of the country.
What qualities do you have which you believe make you good at the role?
I think having a good understanding around the issues a young person might face when living away from home for the first time, and also having a really good understanding of the role of the family unit in delivering a successful and positive experience
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the role?
I think the most challenging aspect of the role now is trying to encourage young people to separate their old lives back home from their new lives in the UK. Young people need to make an emotional move to the UK as well as the physical one, the use of social media makes this extremely difficult if they are still in constant contact with their friends at home. This makes the transition to life with their new family much, much harder, especially if they are homesick and their first conversation is with friends and family back home.
The most rewarding aspect has to be seeing the growth and development in the young person, and the genuine love families have for their new family member.
What changes do you see in a student from when they arrive to when they return home?
I think the biggest thing you see is the personal confidence that the young person has. The confidence to take on new challenges, to learn new things and the confidence to make life decisions. We have had students from all over the world, one former Italian student loved the British education system so much, she stayed on after the programme to finish her A levels, and next week we are picking her up from university having spent 3 years studying Politics and International relationships.
We often see scared young people getting off the plane, and when they eventually go home, we see strong and independent young adults.