This page contains information about Whangarei's Youth Space Health Nurse, Leah Bennett.
21/11/2018 4:07 p.m.
Some years bring dramatic changes while others bring steady development and confidence.
2018 has been a year like that for Youth Space’s young Youth Health Nurse Leah Bennett.
We talked to Leah last year about her passion for working with young people, and how to approach a young person who might be struggling. This year’s experiences have confirmed for Leah, the importance to young people of having an understanding and supportive adult who they can always turn to.
“I have found I just need to be there. I don’t need to have anything amazing to say, I just need to be there to listen. It is a team effort by everyone at Youth Space, we each have different qualities and skills, and we work together to support young people.”
We asked her a few questions about the last year. Here is her update.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt this year?
I’ve definitely realised the importance of hope this year and how essential it is to speak this into young people’s lives. I’ve realised that one of the greatest gifts I can give a young person is the message that things can get better.
What has your year been like? What major things have happened?
This year has been a chance to strengthen new and past relationships with young people and community organisations. It has been a chance to grow in confidence and utilise tools and knowledge learnt through my postgraduate study and professional development. There have been some major events that have happened in the lives of our young people and it has been such a privilege to journey through those things with them.
Best things this year? What has been so good about them? What contributed to them?
One of the best things this year has been growing solid and trusting relationships with young people so that they feel like they can come back and see me for support when things aren’t going well. This was done through things talked about in my last article – honest discussions about confidentiality, effectively listening with good eye contact, open questioning etc. I love it when young people contact me and ask if they can come back in for support even if we haven’t seen them for awhile – it’s a sign of the trusting relationships and connections we’ve been able to build as a team. It’s such a privilege to see the young people that we do and to connect them with the right people and organisations that can support them and to journey with them through this process.
Any thoughts looking back on last year’s story?
In my last article I talked about the importance of a young person being connected with an older figure who can act as a role model to improve their life trajectory. What I’ve learnt this year is the importance of the therapeutic relationship – simply the power of a young person seeing that the professional that they are connecting with genuinely cares about them and has their best interests at heart. We often talk about loving young people back to life. We hope that by making genuine and lasting connections with young people we can show them that adults are worth trusting and can start them on the journey of healing some of the hurt or broken attachments from their childhood.
What would you want young people to know about how their life may change over the next year?
We have a metaphor we like to talk to young people about. We ask them to think of their life like an ocean. And then we talk about how often the hard things that happen can feel like giant waves. We then talk about how we can’t stop or control the waves but that we can learn to surf them. In other words, we can’t control or change the things that may or may not happen over the next year, but we can learn how to cope with them. Everyone fails sometimes and failure is not the end.
What are some of the things that worry young people the most and what have you learnt about these worries in the last year?
Probably something that surfaces in nearly every consult we have with a young person is relationship worries – whether this be with a peer, a partner or with whanau members. Young people, like us all, long to be valued and loved and accepted. It is important for young people with these worries to have a space to be able to be heard and accepted; again that connection with an older role model figure. We hope we can be that point of connection at Youth Space!
Perhaps one of my favourite stories is of a young man who came to see us for support with his anxiety. Our youth workers were able to support him to find a job and when I saw him a few weeks later, his anxiety was much improved. He told me that he’d been given the job because the manager told him that she saw potential in him. This was a huge turning point for this young person who is now able to hold his head high because someone in his world told him they believed in him and proved that by offering him a job. This story is the same for many of our young people who have had supportive employers or teachers. My encouragement to those that are in a position of power and responsibility over young people is to use that power to speak words of life into that young person and give them the chance to believe in themselves.
What remains a problem or concern?
What remains a concern is that there are many young people out there that are struggling but don’t have the resources or confidence to be able to ask for help. If you notice a young person around you that is struggling, let them know you’re there and that you care. If you need advice from our friendly health team or would like us to check in on a young person in your world, we are here, just make contact.
Helplines for children and young people
Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234, email@example.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org free text 5626 or free text / phone 1737 anytime for support from a trained counsellor
Help for parents, family and friends
Parent Help – 0800 568 856
Family Services 211 Helpline – 0800 211 211
Skylight – 0800 299 100
Are you aged between 12 and 24 years old? Then this is your space, join in the fun
Whangarei Youth Space is a safe and fun place where you can:
get involved in what’s on,
find a mentor,
join in school holiday activities,
access free, private youth health services and
get training and employment support.
How you can contact us at Whangarei Youth Space
Phone: 09 972 7248
Text: 021 765 838
Fax: 09 972 7249
Post: PO Box 1483, Whangarei 0140
Youth health enquiries contact a nurse on 021 756 724