Former police officer Janice Grant joined Nottinghamshire YMCA’s staff team this year as an Informed Trauma Support Counsellor in Mansfield, supporting the charity’s Multiple Complex Needs service.
‘Root causes of challenging youth behaviour’
“I’ve been working at Nottinghamshire YMCA for just over a month, and it has already been a massive eye opener and a wonderful life experience to meet new people,” said Janice.
“Before joining the team I worked as a police officer for 30 years, with 13 of those years being seconded to youth offending. It was only supposed to be a trial but I connected so well with the young people that I ended up staying for more than a decade! It was whilst I was in this department that I realised how much I wanted to be part of a movement to help solve the root causes of challenging youth behaviour using a different approach.”
Inspired by her interactions with youth offenders, Janice began her training as a counsellor and volunteer in a move towards helping more young people and families build brighter futures.
“Following retiring, I knew I needed a break so began to explore my creative side and love for handmade crafts,” Janice explained.
“I ended up working Freelance with The Birmingham Centre For Arts Therapies with all age groups around the West Midlands the experience was invaluable. For some people it was the ‘missing link’ and listening to the stories of some of the service users caused me to realise it was time to counsel again.”
‘I am humbled by their experiences’
Janice then began working for the YMCA’s Multiple Complex Needs (MCN) service, a 40-bed commissioned provision which is funded by Ashfield District Council and Mansfield District Council, to support young people with complex needs in managing their lives, tenancies and development.
Residents of this service come to the charity having experienced issues ranging from difficulties with mental health to drug or alcohol addiction and/or other underlying issues that have led to their current lifestyles. A key part of Janice’s role is to identify residents who struggle with mental health issues and support them in creating personalised strategies for sustaining their tenancies at the YMCA.
“I just knew this was where I wanted to be,” Janice explained. “My police background combined with counselling training has certainly put me in good stead for working with YMCA residents with complex needs in Mansfield.
“Learning and becoming part of the YMCA’s MCN team has been a real eye opener. It is so fantastic of the YMCA to increase their services to provide support to this particular group in a way that can really help people find their sense of belonging in our community.”
‘Responsibility to build trust’
“When I’ve sat and listened to residents’ stories, I am humbled by their experiences and feel honoured to be part of their journey,” said Janice. “I often wear a dual hat with the younger residents with many of them seeing me as a mother-type figure due to my age, so there is a real responsibility there to carefully build and maintain a relationship of trust.
“I’m really enthusiastic about this role and, most importantly, the opportunity to develop my relationships with staff and residents. Walking around and getting to know the residents has been an important part of my induction so they realise that I can become a ‘normalised’ everyday person to them – someone who they know and feel comfortable talking to about their personal issues.
“I’ve already been blown away by some of the stories of individuals, but I am similarly aware of the impact these experiences have had upon their lives and shaped the way a person engages with the world. If I can help them to move forward and grow into the best versions of themselves they can be, it will all be worthwhile.”