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UCLan graduate Karen Livesey tells us about the journey to launch her own youth work business

PGCert Leadership and Management in Social Work and Social Care, 2018

UCLan graduate, Karen Livesey, has enhanced her educational youth work career to become an independent trainer in Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness.

Karen chose to study PGCert Leadership and Management in Social Work and Social Care to extend her knowledge within this subject context. At the time of starting the course, Karen was employed as an Advanced Practitioner with Lancashire County Council’s Young People’s Service.

During this time, Karen was responsible for staff teams who worked with children, young people and families with vulnerabilities and complex needs. These people needed early interventions to help them towards achieving positive personal, social and educational outcomes with an overall aim of improved health and wellbeing for all concerned.

Karen’s desire to undertake further study addressed her aim to enhance her future professional development and challenge personal expectations. She found the process of studying difficult at times due to trying to balance full-time work with personal commitments and bringing up her two children. When asked what she did after Graduation, Karen said: “I smiled with relief then watched the dramas and documentaries I had missed due to extensive reading and research.”

Karen started her professional career as a Primary School Teacher before taking up a post at Lancashire Youth and Community Service as a Senior Youth Worker. From this, she got involved in training related to child sexual exploitation and continued her work to address child abuse by undertaking further training with Lancashire County Council  and specialist organisations including, Safe and Sound Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and Parents against Child Exploitation (PACE). Speaking about her passion for this subject, Karen said: “Over the years the number of CSE cases have increased significantly and the need to address grooming and abuse via social media is dramatically evident.”

Karen Livesey
Karen Livesey

After finishing her study in 2018, Karen set up her own business as an independent trainer entitled C.A.T. (Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Training). Part of Karen’s motivation to create her own business came from a UCLan competition entitled ‘The Big Idea’ where students put their entrepreneurial skills to the test in a live challenge aimed at enhancing graduate enterprise and boosting employability.  Karen’s team won the ‘Most Innovative Business Idea’.

Karen’s loyalties still lie very much with UCLan and the University is now helping Karen to grow her business. UCLan’s Digital First assisted with Karen’s website and a Business Mentor from UCLan’s Business Start-up team, Propeller, is giving advice and guidance. Karen recently won a Propeller Enterprise Award with funding to assist with one of her business projects.

Looking back on her time at UCLan, Karen reflected: “My Leadership and Management in Social Work and Social Care course provided a multitude of interactive activities that were stimulating and thought provoking as well as loads of fun! I have also enjoyed meeting the vast array of visiting lecturers and engaging in dynamic and challenging discussions. I discovered new resources and research in the library and found ways to critique work and ideas and begin to relate my own professional experience to wider academic studies.” Karen further added: “I have been given opportunities, contacts, learning experiences and numerous challenges that have shaped my academic skills, personal ambitions and quality of life.”

When Karen was asked what advice she would give to those wanting to take up similar study, she stated: “Do it and don’t be afraid to face your demons. Sometimes you need to push yourself and raise your own expectations, but with a realisation that progress can be with a ‘stepping stone’ approach.”