YOUTH WORK: Jemma transforms lives of Burnley teenagers

ROLE MODEL: Youth worker Jemma Harrower is helping to turn around the lives of youngsters on Stoops estate. (S)
ROLE MODEL: Youth worker Jemma Harrower is helping to turn around the lives of youngsters on Stoops estate. (S)

A YOUTH worker, who was once cautioned for smashing church windows as a teenager, is helping troubled youths to turn their lives around.

Jemma Harrower, who abandoned anti-social behaviour to support parents and help youngsters facing problems such as unemployment, has been working as a youth worker on Stoops estate for the last 18 months.

LEADER: Jemma Harrower helps the community of Stoops estate as part of her role as a youth worker. (S)

LEADER: Jemma Harrower helps the community of Stoops estate as part of her role as a youth worker. (S)

The 27-year-old, whose teenage years were ravaged by drugs and alcohol, began to re-assess her life when she joined a church youth club in Tillicoultry in her 20s and became a Christian.

As a student at Caperwray Bible College, near Lancaster, where she was introduced to the Burnley Methodist Circuit, she completed a work placement in Burnley and was invited to work at the church upon finishing her studies.

Devoting her time to the organisation of events in the Stoops estate community, Jemma runs a children’s club, a youth club and a family night at Stoops Parkside Methodist Church.

An avid footballer who once played for the West of Scotland as a teenager and for Falkirk Girls’ and Ladies’ team, she also encourages children to keep fit by playing the sport.

Christianity is also at the heart of her work. Not only does she organise youth meetings and after-school Bible studies in the central church, she also visits schools to lead assemblies, RE lessons and lunch clubs.

During the Christmas period, the youth worker helped to organise the distribution of £250 worth of gifts among families in need.

Her efforts also stretch to young adults since she works as a chaplain to students at Burnley College.

Commenting on her noble ambitions, Jemma said: “I want to help young people discover that they can make something of their lives. Many have no self-esteem and do not think they can achieve.

“Slowly many are beginning to change that mind-set and are becoming more responsible – and enjoying life more as a result.”

“I think my most enjoyable moments are when I spend time with young people. It is a real privilege to be able to help them.”

Jemma, who now has 18 months left on her contract, is proud to be part of the changes occurring on the estate.