By Naomi Barker, Regional Programme Manager
The mentor-mentee relationship is a very special one, we often think of the mentee getting all the benefits of being mentored, but this is not the case. Our Future First mentoring programmes place equal emphasis on both sides of the relationship. Our mentors often have the pressures of their day-to-day jobs as well as their volunteer role, but feedback continually shows that engaging in mentoring helps the mentor add some perspective to their lives – allowing them to see the bigger picture of their place in life and how they can reach a helping hand to others. It can help them make better decisions at work and be more empathetic as leaders. It makes them better listeners and managers.
The obvious benefit of being on the receiving end of mentoring is that our school-age mentees gain much-needed additional support and a strong role model – which may be lacking in their home or school lives. We witness both personal and ‘professional’ growth in our mentees as a result.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we partnered with online mentoring charity, Brightside, to deliver Future Me Mentoring, an nine-week online mentoring programme to support young people during the crisis. The programme was run across Secondary and Sixth Form with Year 11 and 12 students at that crucial stage of education benefiting from personalised advice and guidance from relatable role models. Just one bit of memorable feedback was from a Year 12 mentee:
“It was very useful having a mentor because I feel like I can relate to them more than my teachers because they’re closer to my age. I think it’s encouraging to see someone who has been in the same position as you become successful in their future. It makes it more relatable and within your capabilities to be successful in the future.”
We also witnessed similar growth in our younger mentees: Our recent ‘Bridging the Gap’ project, involving mentees in Year 6 and mentors in Year 9 showed that by the end of the programme Year 6 pupils had an increased understanding of what to expect when they transitioned to secondary school, were more confident about the transition and were more engaged and motivated to work harder in their present year group. It was wonderful to hear some of their feedback which really brought home the benefits of placing role models in schools:
“I enjoyed learning about secondary school from my mentor, because he came to this school first, and I know that if he can do it, so can I”
And from a Year 9 mentor:
“Being a mentor has made me more confident as a student. [It has] made me more comfortable speaking to younger people. I am sure that it will help me in later life.”
As our mentees get older and transition through to secondary school, our mentors help mentees with numerous aspects of life – at school – but also looking beyond the school gates. So they can help students with practical things like CV writing, interview skills and explaining how businesses operate, but also help them build life skills like resilience, confidence and help instil motivation and determination for the future. These may seem like simple things, but often young people who have no clear role model figures can lack this, and this impacts on their future prospects and opportunities.
Sometimes, all anyone needs is a nudge in the right direction from someone ‘like me’ – and that’s what we help provide at Future First.
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