Xander Cook is Youth@Heart's ACHD Youth Worker, he supports young people aged 16-24 who have congenital heart disease.
Covid-19 response: Xander is currently working from home during the lockdown but is available 4 days a week for:
- Telephone conversations/texts
- Video chat on WhatsApp, Zoom or Facebook messenger
- Contacting young people across the region to check in and offer support
Current role and experience
I am the Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Youth Worker. I work for Youth@Heart, a small charity based in Gloucester, supporting young people (16-24) with ACHD across the South West and South Wales, and I have an honorary contract with University Hospitals Bristol. My professional relationship with the Cardiac Clinical Team at the BHI has enabled a greater understanding of Congenital Heart Disease and the health and lifestyle challenges young people face.
My plans for the next few months are to stay in touch with young people across our region, to continue to share the charity’s aims and how we can help. Check in with those who are due in clinic and to connect virtually via zoom, or in person (depending on circumstances) with any young person awaiting a procedure in hospital. Working with young people, our ambassadors, and the charity to develop our online interactive platforms and to identify future areas of support. Strengthen links with the peripheral clinics. Utilise feedback gained to update our referral criteria, collect, and analyse data to inform future practice.
Background and Training
I am from Somerset and my interest in youth work started at the age of 13 when I set up an internet/gaming café in my home village. The café was hugely successful and ran for 10 years, stopping only when I left to purse my youth work career at University, and technology changed - everyone has a console nowadays!
I completed a BA (Hons) Youth and Community Development Degree at De Montfort University Leicester between 2010 and 2013. Following this I returned to Somerset and worked as a labourer for 6 months, before getting a job in Bristol working for the Bristol Youth Links contract, supporting young people on a 1:1 basis and running youth club sessions. I then moved into an educational role supporting learners pastorally who were working on an employability qualification with a local college, before returning to 1:1 support, when the college closed.
During my school days I felt I was on the fringes of groups rather than being in the centre of them – this fuelled my passion to provide spaces for young people who don’t completely fit in, a place where they can really be themselves.
I started volunteering for Over the Wall in 2007, a charity that provides residential camps to young people affected by health challenges. This inspired me to move my career into a health-based setting. I continue to volunteer for them!
How Xander can help you:
1:1 support in the hospital (virtually or in person)
Accompanying to outpatient appointments
Someone to talk to
Linking you to other young people with CHD
Helping you to share your knowledge and experiences with your peers
Facilitating understanding and support in the community
Liaising with educationalists, employees and other professionals on your behalf
Click here to read Xander's letter outlining what help and support he can offer to you, your family and friends.
Are you aged 16+ and thinking about your options? Further study or training? Starting your career? Getting your first job?
Click here to read Xander's support and advice for young people transitioning to adult CHD services, including lots of useful website links.
How to contact Xander:
07832668907 / 01452 690830
Follow Youth@Heart on:
Visit Youth@Heart's website