Tess has been involved with the Trust for over 6 years, having sailed as a participant on a 10 day voyage in 2016 and then continuing as a volunteer for many years. Currently studying for her Level 4 certificate in youth work Tess brings a vital combination of youth work experience and sailing nous into this new role. We acknowledge the ship’s crew who have been doing this really well for years alongside their seafaring duties. However we recognise the changing need and felt that it required someone with designated capacity and training to take on this more pastoral side of our work.
On this new challenge, Tess had the following to say: “Our current generation of young people have had cornerstone moments of their adolescence disrupted or completely taken away, missing vital opportunities to learn how to connect. Moments that help shape their ability to thrive in society like school, social events, camps, sports games etc. They were told to stay inside and they turned, quite naturally to social media to fill the void, creating a de facto social life and having inauthentic social interaction, missing out on learning real life social skills and how their identity looks in the wider world.
It’s fair to say that, even though stepping onto a ship with a bunch of strangers for 10 days has always been challenging, it’s become even more intimidating for rangatahi. They are naturally going to need more support than prior generations while they are thrust into a world (the ship) where they need to figure out how to connect with strangers.
It can bring up unexpected challenges and feelings which we are seeing present on the ship more and more. I’ve had multiple young people talk to me about going through some really tough emotions and anxiety that they had never experienced before Covid, but since the lockdowns, they’ve struggled more and more. This is why the Trust and I think having a Youth Development Mate is the perfect next step to meet the needs of young people. My role is definitely not one of a counsellor or social worker, I am not there to fix young people's problems. I am there to be a listening ear, to be part of creating a safe and inclusive space for all onboard and to help support trainees to figure out and find in themselves their sense of resilience and the skills to work through challenges.
I love getting to do what I do. It is an absolute dream come true to get to be a part of the journey of so many young people throughout Aotearoa. Rangatahi are our future, they are funny, smart, powerful, insightful, cheeky, challenging, bold and just trying to figure out what the world means. I learn something while working alongside them every voyage, they develop me as much as we develop them.
This role just feels like a natural extension to the gold standard of youth development the Trust and it’s people have been delivering for the past 50 years and it is such a privilege and joy to get to be a part of it! I still can’t quite believe it’s real, but I’m just really happy to be here!”.
Tess is joining one of our two permanent crews in this new position and we will be fundraising in order to appoint another Youth Development Mate on the other crew as soon as possible.