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  • Writer's pictureCarol Barron

A day in the life of a Youth Worker

Our Methodist Alliance members offer services from the cradle to the grave to whānau around Aotearoa New Zealand. Our members employ about 650 full time equivalent staff and have over 720 volunteers working to support over 4,000 whānau every year.

Loretta Holland is a Supervisor at the Youth Transition House (YTH) in Ōtepoti Dunedin. Methodist Mission Southern has been operating their youth transition housing model since early 2018 and has houses supporting young people in Dunedin (YTH Ōtepoti) and Invercargill (YTH Waihōpai).


Loretta Holland, YTH Ōtepoti Supervisor at Methodist Mission Southern


The YTH model supports 16-19 year olds who would otherwise be homeless to successfully transition to independent living, while developing essential life skills, creating education and employment pathways and enhancing their physical, mental and social resilience. This service also addresses the specific challenges faced by young people who are homeless – a group that frequently slips between the cracks in housing statistics. Methodist Mission Southern works closely with a number of local service providers to best meet the needs of these young people to achieve the best possible outcomes in terms of sustainable accommodation, personal wellbeing and development, and achievement in education, training and employment.


Loretta has been working as Supervisor YTH Ōtepoti for eight months and she describes what a day in her life looks like.


1. What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy knowing that I am making a difference in our residents’ lives. I find it so inspiring to watch our rangatahi, a lot who have come from difficult challenges, really start to thrive and find their place in the world and the privilege of being able to be part of this.


2. What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m a single mum to an amazing 12-year-old boy, so we hang out a lot. I’m also on placement at Mirror HQ youth addiction services during the day and do one to two afternoon shifts at the Ōtepoti youth transition house during the week. So, my days are very busy but also very fulfilling.


3. What is on your to-do list?

I’m currently studying a Te Taketake Diploma in Applied Addictions Counselling at the Moana House Training Institute programme, which is offered in partnership with Otago Polytechnic[1] with the goal of being a Youth Alcohol and Drug Clinician. My ultimate goal is to be able to help people stuck in the cycle of addiction pull themselves out of this cycle.


4. What excites you most about your mahi? What do you love most about your job?

I love that feeling that comes with knowing I have been able to make someone’s day even just a little bit better through empathy, kindness, understanding and connection.


5. What have you learned since you started?

So many things!!! I’ve learned how much need there is for services such as this one. I’ve learned how stunningly brave and resilient our residents are. I’ve also learned to lean on my co-workers and draw from their vast wealth of knowledge and experience.


6. If you could change two things about the world, what would you change & why?

The two things I would change are:

  • The level of divisiveness and hatred our country is experiencing around topics such as cultural awareness, LGBTQI+ awareness to name a few.

  • The stigma around mental health and addiction and the lack of resources available in these areas.

These changes would make the world a better place for everyone to live in and for my son to grow up in.


7. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

“Be who you are, and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” I love this quote from Dr Seuss’ Cat in the Hat so much I had it tattooed on my arm 😊.


8. What is worth smiling about right now?

Watching my son navigate the world with so much kindness, caring, fierceness and bravery. I am looking forward to smashing my goals and having a career where I can truly make a difference…having a path with a heart.


I encourage you to support the work done by our Missions for young people and a novel way of doing this is through Gumboot Friday. Palmerston North Methodist Mission held a Gumboot Friday on 14th April.


Gumboot Friday is an initiative that helps connect young people with counsellors and therapists and provide funding for this so young people get the help they need when they need it. You can find out more here - https://www.gumbootfriday.org.nz/


Having depression is like walking through mud every day, so you can show your support for by putting on your gumboots, giving a gold coin (or more), and taking a walk in their shoes for just one day. You could have a church service, or a day at work for Gumboot Friday. You can donate directly to your local Methodist Mission, or to the Gumboot Friday website.

Your support will help young people and also acknowledge the great mahi Methodist Mission staff do every day.


Carol Barron, National Coordinator

03 375 0512 | 027 561 9164 | Carol@MethodistAlliance.org.nz

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