How do I get to do what you do?

How do I get to do what you do? 150 150 Jane Evans

How, what, where, when?

Every so often I am asked the following questions about my journey to being an Anxiety Coach, an International Speaker, a Trauma Parenting Specialist, a Trainer, an Author, oh and how to get on to TV and to get to do a TED Talk:

  • What qualifications do you have?

  • What training have you done?

  • How did you get your TED Talk?

  • What experience do I need?

  • How long has it taken you?

  • How did yo get on to TV?

  • How can I do what you do?

Here goes, hang on to your hats it’s quite a journey!!

How I got started

It all began once I got over the shock of giving birth to my son! I then began to realise, after years and years of feeling I was useless and drifting from one job to another, living in a variety of countries and having no clear aim or focus, that I liked being a parent and, for the most part, was fascinated by my child! When he turned 3 we went to work in a Pre-school together. It was for children from a range of countries, whose parents were in the Armed Forces and were doing a course in the UK for around 3-6 months. I thoroughly enjoyed working there and went on a huge learning curve under the kindly, watchful eye of Pat the Supervisor.

When my marriage ended I relocated to Wiltshire and was soon working in a Pre-school for children with a range of complex physical and learning disabilities, called Springboard. It was such a privilege to learn from the children, their parents and carers and the other professionals. Around this time I was beginning to grasp the need to return to education, having left school with 6 O Levels, if I was to create a strong career path moving forward. I tentatively found an Access to Sociology course at the local college and recall a conversation with a tutor who told me sociology was about exploring the composition of society and the family, the role of religion and exploring the social systems we have from a variety of angles such as Feminisim, Marxisim….I was sure I could do that as I was always wondering ‘why?’ I signed up and although petrified to be writing ‘grown up’ essays in my 30’s I kept on going!

Degree Time!

Before I knew it people were putting in applications to go on and do degrees. I couldn’t have been paying attention when that was outlined as the point of the ‘Access’ bit of the course, not being great at details! I felt I should do the same, so applied to all the local Universities as my son was only 5 so I had to be able to travel on a daily basis. Lo and behold I got a place at the University of Bristol to do a much sought after Early Childhood Studied degree, fortunately at this point I didn’t know Bristol was a prestigious, academic university or I would not have pitched up there in the October for Fresher’s Week!

By October 1996 I had decided I REALLY did want to do a degree! Much of what was holding me back in my life was a lack of belief in myself. I was a single parent, with a ‘failed’ marriage behind me and a chaotic past, I had experienced a range of abuse in the latter years and needed to discover if I was indeed ‘stupid’ and could ‘never amount to anything’, or if my sheer determination would reveal something else!

I loved studying it literally took me to another place, I loved learning, and if I hadn’t been going through a pro-longed and bitter divorce and daily battles with anxiety who knows I may have stayed in academia longer. Instead I came out with a 2:1 in Social Policy and Planning as I jumped ship to a different degree at the end of my first year.

Work History

I have a long and varied work history after my degree, so will just list it or you may lose the will to live!!!!

  • School Start Worker – supporting children identified with complex needs make a good start in to school

  • Family Support Practitioner for the NSPCC – worked in a family centre providing 1:1 and group support for families in need and with safeguarding concerns

  • Completed NVQ 4 Iin Social Care as part of my Social Work Training with the NSPCC, and all of the modules with University of Hull – had to give it up as my son became seriously ill

  • Registered Childminder for three and a half years and Local Authority Respite Foster Carer

  • Social Work Assistant in a Child Protection Team – offering direct support to parents, carers, young people and children and supervising contact sessions

  • Parenting Worker for Survive DV across 3 refuges, South Gloucestershire and Bristol

  • Young Persons and Parent’s Support Worker for Wish for a Brighter future Child to Parent Abuse Service in Bristol

  • Following redundancy due to no more funding being available – I became Freelance Trainer, Speaker, Coach and Author of my first book with Jessica Kingsley Publishers for children impacted by domestic violence.

Turning Point!

It was when being assessed to become a Foster Carer that I was directed to begin reading about childhood trauma, attachment and and brain development, about 12 years ago. Once I started I couldn’t stop as every child and adult I had ever worked with then made complete sense to me. It is still a huge part of my life – learning about and making sense of the the earliest part of a child’s development and how that relates to all areas of their ongoing life. What this looks like in terms of their mental health, their ability to be able to learn, to make and form relationships and to access their potential, and how the adults in their lives need to be supporting and working with them.

All I have been shown and taught by those I have had the immense privilege to meet and to work with underpins my knowledge and insight and fuels my passion each and every day. I take my studies very seriously but always prioritise learning from those I sit alongside of,and by being much more attuned to my own physiology bu that’s another blog altogether!

Not a course for it!

I am sorry I can’t recommend a course or a training for where I am now. It is possible through self-education and seeking the right jobs to gather a wealth of knowledge, insight and understanding but it does take time! It also means working hard on yourself to touch your own trauma and ways to react and respond in daily life. My biggest learning in all of this has been to ‘sort myself out’…..this is ongoing as I take it VERY seriously. I have had anxiety all of my life, now I DO have a handle on it because I am respectful of my ‘welleness’, and tend it on a daily basis so my anxiety is mostly a useful fuel and no longer a hidden ‘car crash’.

I guess what I am saying is learn, learn, learn and learn some more! Find jobs which offer that, you may have start as a volunteer to get the initial experience, read all you can, access coaching, mentoring or therapy with a real curiosity about how you can be an even better version of yourself. Be determined and you will find your own pathway to being an incredible practitioner and force for good in the lives of others, which is the ultimate privilege.

tedxbristol official photo questioningP.S. As for my TEDxBristol Talk, I wasn’t invited, I applied and went through a rigorous process before getting accepted. Other people get seen and are asked to do one, of course I am more a ‘do things the hard way’ kinda gal!! When whinging one day about how hard the process was, my wonderfully wise son said, “Mum, of course its hard. It’s to do a TED Talk, its meant to be hard”. He was right, as always, but it was sooooooooo worth it!

Jane Evans

Jane is a ‘learn the hard way’ person. She has learnt from her personal experiences and her direct work with people who have often been in really bad places emotionally, relationally, practically and sometimes professionally.

All stories by: Jane Evans

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