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Youth Work Week 2021: Why Programme Coordinators are the unsung heroes of Redthread’s youth work

November 5th, 2021

Programme Coordinators (PCs) play a key role within Redthread’s Youth Violence Intervention Programme (YVIP) teams. They lead on the data collection and report writing for their site but also provide administrative support, monitor referrals and are a key point of contact within the hospital for the programme. 

In this blog, Steph reflects on her career journey and shares why Programme Coordinators are truly the glue of Redthread’s YVIP teams. 

My Redthread journey started in 2017, when I joined the team at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, as a Programme Coordinator (or Programme Assistant, as we were then known!). The service was still in its first few years of operation but felt very established and had really found its feet within the wider hospital context, which meant it was a great first introduction to hospital-based youth work for me. I was fortunate enough to be able to witness amazing work first hand, develop professionally and contribute to making a difference in the lives of many young people through supporting my incredible team.

When I started with Redthread, there were just three PCs (including me) across three hospital sites, and no wider data function. However, due to our expansion over the last few years, the ‘data team’ has grown considerably and is now 12-strong, consisting of a Data Manager, a Data Officer, 8 PCs and two Lead PCs. Whilst the intricacies of the Programme Coordinator role differ slightly at each site, depending on the needs of the service, the nuts and bolts are the same across all our services. Our PCs are the heart of the hospital team, often being the first point of contact for our clinical colleagues who want to make a referral or discuss concerns about a young person in the Emergency Department (ED). I learnt very quickly how integral the role of a PC is to the smooth running of the service, and this is something I still feel very strongly about.

Together with thoughts from the PCs, here are why PCs are, without a doubt, the unsung heroes of Redthread’s YVIP: 

PCs lead on organisation and coordination

Our Programme Coordinators are amongst the most organised and methodical people you will ever meet, and one of the key functions of their role is coordinating the programme to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. This often includes administration tasks such as answering phone calls and emails in a timely manner, liaising with clinical colleagues, and taking details of new referrals from hospital staff. Their effective administration skills mean that Redthread’s services are responsive; youth workers and team leaders have the capacity to engage with young people, and relationships with our clinical colleagues are fostered. However our PCs are much more than administrators!

PCs are also responsible for weekly Case Management Meetings (CMM), an opportunity to meet as a team to review the caseload of each youth worker. This consistency in monitoring the service’s activity is so important, especially given the unpredictable nature of hospital-based youth work. At some sites, depending on capacity, PCs also check the hospital system, screening for any additional flags of concern which might indicate a young person could benefit from Redthread’s support. Overall, this alleviates the administrational burden on team leaders and youth workers so they can spend more time at the bedside or in the community working with young people. 

PCs provide emotional and practical support to the entire team

One of the most valuable skills our PCs have is their ability to provide emotional and practical support to their team. It is these ‘softer’ skills which have a huge impact. PCs are always ready to lend an ear when youth workers return from the ED or ward, or after having made a difficult phone call. Our youth work teams thrive on collaboration and compassion, and having someone ready to listen, bounce ideas off and ultimately help in any way they can is central to this.

The PC role can also be emotionally challenging so it’s inevitable that they vicariously experience trauma alongside their frontline colleagues. It is therefore vital that PCs have the support of their hospital team, PC team, and the wider organisation to have space to process what they see and hear daily, which is something Redthread does very well.

PCs provide all the data on their team’s work/caseload which feeds into wider data and impact strategy

Working with data is something our PCs do every day and it has so many functions within Redthread. Collected data allows us to evidence the impact of the work we are doing and can also be fed into wider policy, informing new legislation and debunking misinformation. 

PCs collect, collate and share data on the work done at their specific site, as well as monitoring data to identify trends which could impact on, or be impacted by, service delivery. There are practical implications too, as PCs are Redthread’s data experts within our youth work teams and are always keen to improve processes and drive change to make our data more insightful. Without this work, we simply would not be able to operate or evidence the incredible work occurring in each of our hospital sites.

The work the PCs do each day is integral to everything Redthread does, and this is something I am even more aware of now, having been away from the organisation for 18 months and now returning in a new role as Data Officer. I work closely with the Data Manager and PC team to report on the impact and outcomes of Redthread’s work, which is only possible because of the essential work of the PCs. My three years as a PC (and later London Lead PC) at St Mary’s was challenging, intense and emotional, but it was genuinely the most rewarding role I have ever had the privilege of undertaking. The support of my hospital team and the wider organisation allowed me to grow immensely, giving me the experience I needed to develop both professionally and personally, and I am so glad to have returned to an organisation which supports its people so well.

 

Interested in becoming a Programme Coordinator? For Redthread’s current vacancies, visit our jobs page here

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