Eilis Sexton

Senior Youth Worker, Thornaby

Sector: Youth Work

Eilis Sexton works as a senior youth worker, helping young people around the North-East, and is based in Middlesbrough.  

Where do you call home? 

Middlesbrough (now Thornaby). 

Tell us about your role?  

I am a senior youth worker and lead on Climate Action Middlesbrough project for Linx Youth Project. 

How did you get to where you are today? 

Upon completing my psychology BSc undergraduate degree in 2015, I took a break from studying and Middlesbrough to become a dog walker in Lincolnshire. Throughout this time, I struggled to settle and realised that I truly belong in Teesside. I applied through the Teesside University internship scheme and before I knew it, I was moving back home and starting as an intern at Depaul North East in Middlesbrough.  

This job was my first stepping stone, and I was given the opportunity to deal with hard-to-reach clients and homeless, young people in a face-to-face setting for the first time. Through networking and outreach, I was fortunate to gain employment with Actes Trust on their Know Your Money project, once my internship had ended. Throughout my employment at Actes, I was working with hard-to-reach young people in different capacities, developing myself across a range of skills and roles. In 2018, after facing redundancy, I started as a sessional youth worker at Linx as a second job after my main, full-time role with Actes. This allowed me to develop even further as a youth worker within a completely different environment, working with children 10+.  

An exciting opportunity arose within Depaul, where I was employed to attend schools across the North-East to deliver sessions on homelessness. Unfortunately, the day I was employed was the day the country went into lockdown and, after several months, I made the decision to apply to become full time at Linx as a senior youth worker.  

What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way? 

The biggest struggle for me has been that there is so much uncertainty when working on charity projects. By the age of 25, I had been at the risk of redundancy three times and moved across five different job roles while trying to secure myself on the property ladder and progress professionally. Even the role I am in now is only five years funded, although one year in, I don’t have a plan when/if this ends. 

Describe the moment you first got a feel for success? 

Within my current role, I have the opportunity to progress and step up from operational worker. My manager, Sara Mirsalehi, is extremely encouraging and has a lot of belief in my abilities. This job allows me to be creative, as well as demonstrating my leadership skills. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring young females? 

Believe in you and harness your strengths by celebrating yourself – always! 

What advice would you give to your younger self?  

Although barriers and hurdles might be put in your way, there’s nothing stopping you from jumping over them. 

What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?  

Celebrate all success. 

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