Meet The Operation Team
Meet The Operation Team
Education and Training Coordinator
I began working in Jigsaw (then Headstrong) in 2012. I started out in a Jigsaw service as a Clinical Support Worker, progressed to a senior clinician after two years, and now work in National Office on the Education & Training team. I love my job, and unlike what they say on the telly, I did not receive a gratuity to write this! I genuinely think Jigsaw is a great place to work; and the work is so rewarding.
What gravitated me in the first place was the Jigsaw model (and if I’m entirely honest a frustration with the system I was working in at the time). The appeal was the way Jigsaw worked with young people and communities, to change the conversation about mental health, and support young people as early as possible. Coming from secondary and tertiary level health services, where problems were often more entrenched, more serious, it was refreshing seeing young people’s mental health improve in a short period of time. It was rewarding to work with parents, enabling them to support their young people as best they could. I can fondly recall lots of young people’s narratives and positive feedback, they and their parents shared, having attended Jigsaw. This motivated me in my work, especially on days when the work was challenging. ‘It’s worthwhile; it’s having a meaningful impact on people’s lives’ is what I reminded myself. In Jigsaw, we don’t diagnose. We don’t see young people’s problems in isolation, but a society of problems, that impact on young people. This is why the community-based approach pulled me to Jigsaw too. I used to think to myself “but I’m only one person and can only do so much” (as a therapist), so was excited to work collaboratively with communities to promote and support mental health, in addition to the therapeutic support Jigsaw offers. I have had the opportunity to work with a diverse range of communities within communities, across Ireland building capacity to support young people’s mental health.
The language used in Jigsaw, and how mental health is understood, is always important to me having studied health promotion, and believing that our mental health is a resource for living. Good prose,’ said George Orwell, ‘is like a window pane’: you see straight through it to what is being said. Working in an organisation that uses simple language, that connects with young people and their families is a welcome change for me, as is working in a service that is easily accessible for young people – someone to turn to and someone to talk to. Simple.
A few other things about working here, more briefly….
The people I work with are incredible. They are kind, humble, supportive, understanding, admirable, hard working. I have learned so much from them. They’re always there…my safety net. And some, my second family! It’s a sociable place to work. We have fun, cook for each other and celebrate important occasions in our personal lives. This matters to me. I think it’s important to be yourself in work and feel valued.
The culture. I work autonomously. I am trusted to make decisions that have influenced change, and policy. I’m listened to. I’ve made some mistakes – it’s ok to make them here. I’m encouraged to improve; to harness my strengths; to pursue my interests. Flexibility is granted (which is important now that I am a mother). Bad days are accepted, welcomed even, because we all have them.
The values. Young people are valued. Having worked with young people and young adults my entire working life, it’s lovely to have the opportunity to work in partnership with young people. It’s comforting to know that young people are involved in all aspects of the work in Jigsaw. Work that affects them ultimately. Staff are valued equally.
The young people in our Youth Advisory Panels. They grounded me. They brought fun, creativity, ideas into a clinical space. They brightened up days when the job was tough. They quietened my ego and reminded me why I came to Jigsaw in the first place. They taught me a new language from their perspective. This helped me enormously in my therapeutic engagement with young people. They let me know when I my ideas were naff and pretty uncool. And they’re not as scary as the media portray!
I will add that expectations are high in Jigsaw. Standards are high. The work can be challenging; the pace is fast. There has been lots of change and will be more. But all clearly manageable, seeing as I’m still here almost 6 years later!
Honestly, and finally, the work doesn’t feel like work most days, and I feel fortunate to do what I do – to be part of something exciting, innovative, progressive and really, really important.
Youth Engagement Coordinator
I started work in Jigsaw in June 2015, but my journey to this organisation began, unbeknownst to me in 2008 when I lost my job in the recession. Returning to college as a mature student, I studied Youth and Community Work in NUI Maynooth. This decision provided the platform for me to critically reflect on society and the world around us, travel to areas of the world I would never have dreamt of and ultimately graduate with a first class honours. This lead to my first job in Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre as Youth Work Coordinator. After spending two years in that post I became aware of the role of Youth and Community Engagement Worker in Jigsaw Clondalkin. That was my first role in Jigsaw before taking up the post of Youth Engagement Coordinator in Jigsaw’s National Office.
As a youth worker I was attracted to Jigsaw because of the emphasis of involving young people in the decision making structures through the organisation. Providing the conditions where young people voice their views and can influence change on matters that are important in their lives is of great importance to me.
As a person and father I was attracted to Jigsaw because of the societal change it is making in the lives of individuals, families and communities throughout Ireland. Every day is filled with change and the change occurring within Jigsaw, young people and communities I believe will reap rewards now and for generations to come.
I see my role in Jigsaw as having a number of objectives.
Firstly, I am tasked with ensuring the voices of our national Youth Advisory Panel are considered and represented throughout the various elements of Jigsaw’s work.
The Youth Advisory Panel is a team of volunteers aged 16-25 who are passionate about mental health. This group gives their views on how Jigsaw works and helps to make decisions and influence how Jigsaw supports young people in their community. Throughout the national office and the local service we have approximately 130 young people on our YAP.
Secondly, I support our amazing Youth and Community Engagement Workers (YCEW). Each Jigsaw service has a dedicated ‘youth participation champion’ in to form of YCEW and amongst other things, their role is to ensure that their YAP have a place at the decision making table locally.
And thirdly, my role has a focus on youth participation policies and procedures. As the organisation grows so does our thinking around the potential for youth participation. This inevitably means looking at our policies and procedure to ensure we are adhering to best practice guidelines and that the environment we create for young people to have a say and influence is that of a safe and creative one.
Working with Jigsaw gives me a huge sense of pride and purpose both in my role and personal life. I am proud that I am part of an organisation that is truly striving for positive change for our young people of Ireland. We all have a crucial role, within Jigsaw but also within our personal connections. For me working within the areas of youth mental health, it emphasises one’s personal role/responsibility to positively influence the people we come in contact with. I know it’s a tag line but it is so true, we are all “One Good Adult.”
Everyone works hard and the office is relatively quiet when it needs to be. But there is always time to check-in with one another and there is genuine interest in life outside of the office. The social committee do their upmost to bring us all together whether that’s for a themed lunch or treasure hunt throughout the streets of Dublin City. The field we work in attracts particularly kind hearted and genuine people so a positive and supportive environment is a happy consequence of that.