International Women’s Day – Interview with Lindsey Taylor

International Women's Day

This International Women’s Day we are celebrating the women who make Ara successful. We’re proud to have a high percentage of women working for Ara; more than half of our managers are women. Read more about International Women’s Day here

Today, Lindsey Taylor shares her experience with us. Lindsey was previously Office Manager at our offices in Bristol. She made a career change to work with young people in Ara Gambling Service, and moved to Cornwall just before the COVID-19 lockdown began last year.

How are you finding your job in Ara Gambling Service?

I love it – I get to do research, and make a bit of a difference! Educating young people is really great – they come to the workshop and they’re just so interested. The feedback has been really good. I can’t believe it’s been a year already.

It was a big change for you to move to rural Cornwall and change career. On top of that, a global pandemic had just begun. What was that like?

It really was a big step! Funnily, I actually think the virus made it easier.  In normal life, we would have been out delivering workshops face to face, which is a bit nerve-wracking. But I’ve been able to learn the job at my own pace. My partner has been here, when normally he’d be off every month [travelling for his work], so that would have been quite hard. The pandemic has brought different pressures, but it has slowed things down – no driving around the country!

We’ve done so much in a year – it’s mad when you look back. First being here, with the sun out, those memories are coming back… I was really nervous about doing the job, as it’s very different to what I was doing before.

Before the pandemic began, your job would have entailed visiting young people in schools, colleges, sports clubs etc. Instead, almost everything has switched to online. How has this affected your work?

Doing it online has been a big experiment really. We didn’t know if it was going to work, but it did. The young people join from their own devices, with the cameras off – they talk more that way. The ones who are in the classroom talk through the teacher. Not being able to see them only really affects me; it doesn’t affect what they get out of it, I don’t think. I think they actually get more from it online because they can talk without being shy in front of their peers. We’ve had some really great feedback from teachers.

What is your favourite part of your job?

It’s great being part of the gambling team and sharing knowledge. Also, being able to teach people about problem gambling and delivering a really good workshop. When you get lots of questions from young people, it’s a satisfying feeling. Spreading awareness and the teaching element that I’d not done before is great.

Have you faced any challenges during your work?

It’s been a different way of working. We’ve found a balance with it now. But probably the biggest is not really being able to speak to young people face to face. We’re getting to speak to them through the professionals, but we’re not getting to talk to them. I don’t know many people that age – any 11-19 year olds. So the main challenge is feeling like I know about the issues affecting young people, but I’m not really able to talk to as many as I’d have liked to.

The online workshops haven’t really been a challenge, since it has been easy to use, and professionals love it since they can work from home.

Working from home and having to be strict with myself has sometimes been challenging!

What are you looking forward to in your work?

I’m looking forward to being around young people in youth clubs and schools, and getting to know about young people’s culture. It’s changed so much from when I was a teenager with a lot more focus on online culture.

Being able to go into classrooms and talk to them, learn from them will be brilliant. Their brains are so creative and intelligent – some of the young people I spoke to in Exeter, 16,17 year olds were so articulate! Really bright, creative thinkers. It will be exciting to work with them in-person, and get those milestones of delivering to one thousand, two thousand and even more in the next few years.

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For ways to get in touch, please visit the Young People Service. We provide free workshops for young people and the professionals who work with them in Wales and the South West.

Our workshops teach education professionals how to recognise the risk factors, signs, impacts and symptoms of a gambling problem. We advise on how to talk to young people about problem gambling and where to seek help if they need it.