Sophie Jones, 24, is the new Senior Public Involvement Officer at DECIPHer and is a long -running member of the ALPHA team. Here she tells us how her experience and skills landed her the role.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a qualified Youth and Community Worker and I’ve also just finished my PGCE PCET at Cardiff Met and returning to complete my masters in Applied Public Health. Outside work and education, I enjoy volunteering with a youth sailing charity in Cardiff Bay, going out for food and running my blog about my diabetes on Instagram!
So how did you get involved with ALPHA?
I was part of Caerphilly Youth Forum from the age of 11 years old which is a youth project to allow young people to have their voices heard in decision making. At the time, Hayley Reed was leaving to become the Public Involvement officer herself at DECIPHer and asked if a few of us would like to join. Myself and six others joined and I was part of ALPHA until the age of 20 before my studies got busier. During that time, I gained so many experiences, from interviewing new members of staff and participating in different ALPHA sessions, to representing Wales in the first-ever Youth HBSC Survey Conference in St Andrews, Scotland, celebrating 30 years of the survey.
Age 16, I left school and quit college a month in and become NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) for a few months, undecided on what career I wanted. I decided to give youth work a go after being involved in two great youth projects for so many years. My ALPHA experiences, along with my work at the Youth Forum, helped me get into university for my undergraduate degree, BA Hons in Youth and Community Work. With only GCSEs, I was able to share my experiences in my interview and was given an unconditional offer on the spot. Something I will be forever grateful for!
How did your role develop at ALPHA?
In November 2018, I saw a job advert for the Youth Support Worker at DECIPHer. I applied and luckily I got the post. It was a great position to be in as I could share my experience and perspective of being a young person on ALPHA, which really helped with planning as I knew what worked well.
And now you’ve just got the post of Senior Public Involvement Officer! What will you bring to your new role?
One thing that’s really unique to me being in this role, is that I’ve participated in all roles relating to ALPHA. My experience of being an ALPHA member and being a youth worker can be utilised and I can support all aspects of work at DECIPHer along with my teaching experience. From working in different local authorities in the youth work sector and previously for a national third sector organisation, I’ve built a strong network of professionals working with young people who I would love to engage with the work at DECIPHer.
What are your hopes / aspirations for working at DECIPHer?
I want to ensure that children and young people get their voices heard and that there’s just as many opportunities that I was fortunate to have. I hope to introduce new people to DECIPHer and to raise awareness of the work that’s done here.
Any advice for people wanting to follow the same path as you?
Take every opportunity you can get as you never know what doors they can open for you and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way!
Find out more about ALPHA here.