I have been asked many times, by friends and family, what I actually do here in Dundee. Some see Administrator and assume paperwork but then most know I work from home and so this doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotype admin office worker. Some know a little about Tayside YoungLives and therefore assume I am a youth worker, or support/social worker. In general there is a little confusion about what I am doing and why. This post is trying to explain all this and promote Tayside YoungLives in the process.
The reason I was hired in the first place was that a very intelligent supporter of Tayside YoungLives felt that in order to set up a charity here, there needed to be research first. In a multitude of missions, ministries, and church plants, there is always a discovery of what is there first, what they need, etc before anything happens, otherwise you are jumping into the unknown without any kind of assistance. Therefore, an advert was set up, which I received through a wonderful woman’s network of emails. Bunny has long been a blessing and in this she was doubly so. I received the email whilst revising for my final year exams in St Andrews, and within a month I was having an interview. I got the job the same day I graduated – which was nice.
So what do I actually do? My job is to research primarily the needs of teen mothers (and their children) within Tayside, mainly focussing on Dundee, but broadening out to areas around Perth, and other areas on the opposite side of the river, including Wormit. I spend my days talking to volunteer centres, schools, pregnancy crisis centres, and anyone interested in the project, and gaining their wisdom, collecting any other information they thought might be useful. It is a bit like being a private detective/researcher because once you have a lead you follow it as far as it goes, then go back and follow any other lead you may have had. As an administrator I also have a lot of paperwork: I look into funding possibilities; I record every meeting I’ve had; I log everyone’s details in a catalogue I formed from scratch; I write monthly reports about the progress we’ve made; I collect statistics data, geographical data, historical data and legal data so we know exactly what is required of us. It has been a really interesting journey as I have learnt a huge amount. Everything I learn gets written up and passed on to whoever takes over so as they are ready to go.
So why did I choose this job? Honestly, it was a mixture of reasons, the main one being my knowledge of the need to do something to support the growing number of teens mothers, and possibly look at what the factors were causing the increase. I had heard a lot of insulting comments about teen mothers, and what seemed to be the main stream was that they were promiscuous. I found this highly hypocritical as it seemed that anyone could have casual sex as long as they didn’t get pregnant; once they got pregnant they could be labeled whatever people wanted. There was such an attitude of shame, of stupidity, and guilt laid on these young women it could not but destroy their self-esteem. However good they were at being mothers, however much they cared for and supported their babies, it would not help them as the stereotypes would pull them down. This isn’t acceptable, it isn’t fair, and it isn’t how Jesus would have treated these young women. If Tayside YoungLives can help support them, give them hope in their own lives and skills, and help them become the best they can be, I will be happy in our effort to love them like God loves me.
A secondary reason was God’s timing. I was looking for a job to support my new husband and I, but I did not know how long I would be in the area. I did not want to hold an important role in a charity only to leave it 9 months later causing them to find another person and waste time on interviews instead of caring for the people involved with them. Tayside YoungLives offered me a temporary job where I could give as much time as I had, use my skills, help set up a charity but not feel guilty for leaving them to it. As it stands I will still be in the area when my contract is up, so I can still be on hand to answer questions, help out, publicise and fill the gaps where they are. Yet, I can feel comfort in the fact that I helped a growing ministry, the mothers involved, and the people working for Tayside YoungLives.
My job is basically to allow the staff, once Tayside YoungLives is properly established, to truly focus on the mums and kids. If I can give them information, fully set up situations, a committee and mentors to support them, and funding, then it means all the bureaucracy shouldn’t get in the way of the important parts too much. What I’m doing is the preparation so Tayside YoungLives can do it’s best from those it helps. That’s a pretty cool job and I am constantly praying for the success of Tayside YoungLives. I hope you will too.