“Here I am, doing exactly what I was called to do”

In April we welcomed a new starter to our team – come on down Shakira Djibril from Italy! Shakira joins us on our Teenvine Plus project.

Teenvine Plus project workers tailor an intensive six-month development programme around each young person they work alongside, aged 13-18 and with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

It can be difficult being a teenager – working your way through the education system, navigating family and friendships and discovering more about who you are.

The Teenvine Plus and Next Steps (specifically linked to disadvantage created by the pandemic) programmes help young people get the friendships, confidence, skills and ambition to build the more connected, independent future they want.

Being given the creative freedom to express their identity in different ways and experience new things helps too! Click here to watch our Young People playlist on YouTube. Follow Teenvine on Instagram @TeenvinePlus.

Now for five-minutes with Shakira…

A young black woman wearing her briaded hair long over her shoulder and a red polo top, smiles for the camera against a plain background.
Shakira Djibril, Teenvine Plus project worker

What were you doing before you joined Grapevine?

I think the best answer would be looking for Grapevine. I have always struggled with explaining what it is that I wanted to do or how to get to it, you know, working in the educational sector was great, but not for me. Always felt like I couldn’t really be myself.

Then I worked as a Youth Engagement Worker in a residential home with 16-25 year olds, which felt a little closer to what I was looking for, but it still wasn’t quite it. Still left like I could do more, give more.

And now here I am, doing exactly what I was called to do. Naturally fitting in with like-minded people with common drive and goals.

What other experience will help you with your new role?

I believe working as a Youth Engagement Worker provided me with most of my experience when it comes to working with young people. No two days were ever the same. One day it feels like everyone wants to party, have fun and do loads of activities, next day I might not even get a hello. Both days, it’s a good day to make someone’s day and be there for them if they need you.

It definitely taught me that patience and resilience are key in these types of jobs, and if you don’t have the heart for it then you sure are in the wrong place.

Why do you do work like this?

Growing up I had a friend who did not exactly have the most supportive system around her. As a friend I always tried to support her and encourage her to stay on the right track with me, but unfortunately, my efforts were not enough. It really angered me as she had so much potential and I wanted to see her do well so bad but that was not in my control.

That’s what sparked my sense of wanting to be part of a system that strengthens and empowers those who either grow up in the wrong environment or have been failed by the system.

What are you most looking forward to about the role?

Growing, in any and every aspect. Like I’ve mentioned before, the team is full of like-minded people who all share different experiences but all have so much to bring to the table. So I am looking forward to taking away as much knowledge and wisdom from colleagues but also young people and their parents.

A fun fact or skill you’d like to share with us?

One thing people are often shocked to hear about me is that I am Italian. I was born and raised in Italy and moved to England when I was 14. So yes. I do speak fluent Italian and English isn’t my first language but my third.

Teenvine Plus is part of our #StrengtheningPeople action strand at Grapevine.