Last year Tom Cavalot won the hotly contested Airplay Youth Worker of the Year award at the RAFBF Awards. Tom's innovative approach to youth work has inspired and motivated RAF young people at RAF Cosford, where he is based. Tom tells us why he loves his job and what it was like to bag a top award.
I'm a trained youth worker, qualifying in 2008, after which I worked in residential settings with children and young people for several years.
I felt really comfortable with the ethos of youth work and working with young people. I've been the Station Youth Worker at RAF Cosford since Airplay's inception in 2010.
My favourite part of the role has been seeing the young people develop the service from within and encouraging them to participate and have a voice in how the youth provision operates.
We run loads of activities for young people from centre-based activities, outreach work, residential experiences and trips as well as getting them involved in community events.
We have delivered film projects, graffiti projects, cookery, music, sports, weekends away, trips to attractions as well as everyday sessions where young people can just hang out with friends and relax in a safe and comfortable place.
I don't know what would be in place for young people if we weren't here. Youth services are few and far between and funding is at a premium.
The youth club has in the past been delivered by volunteers but this was limited and inconsistent so having a professional team of qualified youth workers means we can provide quality opportunities for young people.
It was a great feeling to win the RAFBF Award. Totally unexpected! It is always great to receive recognition and I am lucky to work with some fantastic staff and young people. The evening of the Awards was great. It's nice to get suited and booted and I met some really inspiring people as well.
By Tom Cavalot