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Leadership Story: Nick Hudd

We interviewed Nick Hudd, Senior Youth Work Practitioner, Pembrokeshire County Council about his leadership journey. Find out his leadership story below.

Nick Hudd, Senior Youth Work Practitioner, Pembrokeshire County Council

Nick Hudd is currently a Senior Youth Work Practitioner for Pembrokeshire County Council and has worked in the youth work sector for over 20 years, for both statutory and voluntary organisations. Nick is a JNC qualified youth worker and has a BA(Hons) in Youth and Community Work from UWTSD. He has worked in his current role, focused on the prevention of youth homelessness for the past 5 years.

Nick has been responsible for developing, planning, facilitating, and evaluating a range of youth work programmes and interventions and believes early identification and co-production, involving young people, a range of professional stakeholders and community representatives is key to their success. With youth work in Wales aimed at young people aged 11-25, he believes its pedagogy and methodology can complement other forms of education to aid the transition from dependence to independence.

Who or what inspired you to be a leader in Wales?

I’m not sure I ever made a conscious decision to be a leader. After leaving the army I was looking for a fulfilling career. I grew up and was educated in Wales. As a child I had a teacher, Mr Parker, who by day was a primary school teacher and by night a Youth Worker. I remember his approach in each was to put us, young people, on a pathway of discovery rather than prescribing what it was we needed to know. When an opportunity arose to pursue a Youth Work career I remembered the impact Mr Parker had on me as a young person. As my career progressed, I realised the array of opportunities for all those involved in Youth Work in Wales to help inform and shape it. It really is a small community where everyone knows everyone. Leadership in the sector is not based on a job title or position in an organisation, but rather a commitment to make positive changes in the lives of young people. The make-up and work of the Youth Work Implementation Board and associated subgroups is testament to just that and inspires me and others to want to be part of its development.

What do you actively do to inspire and support the next generation of leaders?

I think it is important in any organisation to develop a learning culture and environment. This is not always about access to professional development, although this is integral to any leadership journey. People need opportunities to learn from others but feel empowered enough to develop and exercise their own skills. Not everything will always go to plan, and it’s important to be given the space and support to use reflective practice to learn from both the things that go well, and the situations that have not proved so successful. People often overlook the importance of utilising effective support and supervision in this regard, something we put great emphasis on. In addition, there are a range of examples of effective leadership across the education sector, encouraging staff to look beyond there own setting (in my case Youth Work) can inspire people to do things differently.

As a leader, how do you model prioritising your own well-being as an example to staff?

Whilst many may think that being first into the office and the last to leave offers an example of good leadership, or referring to being too busy to take time off promotes a good work ethic, such approaches can clearly have detrimental impact on people’s well-being. Setting professional boundaries to manage my time, being open about seeking help and support when needed and talking about my interests and past times outside a work environment are all examples where modelling positive behaviour can influence that of colleagues.

What book/professional learning opportunity/piece of research have you recently utilised to inform your leadership practice?

I recently completed the Youth Work Leadership and Management Programme, which was a Level 7 ILM Award. Whilst I had previously completed ILM qualifications at level 4 & 5, this one was different as it focused on my own sector and afforded me an opportunity to not only explore several related theories, but perhaps as importantly, to learn vicariously from colleagues across Wales. On a personal level, the course helped me recognise that sometimes I overlooked progress in search of perfection. In terms of the Youth Work sector; the course affirmed that change is afoot with greater emphasis on systems leadership.

What has been a career highlight for you during your time as a leader in Wales?

There have been many highlights throughout my Youth Work career. Most recently I am most proud of the systems and approaches we have established to help avert youth homelessness. When the Welsh Government prescribed a greater role for the Youth Work sector in addressing the issue and made more resource available to do so, the systems, interventions and programmes had yet to be developed. Now five years on, all are in place and having a real impact on the lives of young people. This has only been possible by adopting a collaborative approach, working with other sectors; partners in education, housing, social care, commissioners. Together we are making a difference.

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