From the minute I started at ReachOut, right through to today, I’ve felt supported and part of a community that cares.
From support in the classroom, to help with university applications and finding a job, ReachOut has always gone above and beyond to support me and countless others.
We all know that children from ‘well-off’ backgrounds benefit from better opportunities; they generally have access to better education, more extracurricular programmes, as well as access to a wide range of people beyond their parents or teachers who can mentor and guide them.
For me and my friends who took part in ReachOut, it helped to level the playing field, providing us with those same opportunities.
The effect of this can be seen through all the amazing things that some former mentees have gone on to do – they’re working in tech, law, and the media, all opportunities I don’t think we would have got if we didn’t attend ReachOut.
As a kid, you always have people who you look up to. Growing up in Hackney, I had some really positive role models and some who weren’t as positive. ReachOut was somewhere that reinforced the lessons from my positive role models and showed me an alternative to the latter.
The mentors on our programme put their faith in us, children society deemed likely to fail. Kids aren’t oblivious to the expectations held of them and having someone who believes in them and who has faith in them, is immensely important and helps to drive their willingness to do well.
Intelligence doesn’t automatically equal success and even bright children can take wrong turns. You need guidance and someone behind you to believe in you, which is why mentoring is so fundamental to a child’s life. Now that I’m an adult, I want to give back in any way I can to support those who are in a similar position to the one I found myself in growing up.
I’m not an anomaly, ReachOut is still having a huge impact on the lives of young people all these years later. Mentoring really works.
I wanted to be a mentor so I could give the young people something that I wish I had when I was younger. I missed quite a lot of school and if I had someone like me around at that time, I think that would have really helped me.
I’ve got a son who’s about 11, when I first signed up I thought primary school boys would fit me perfectly because that’s what I know, but then I ended up going for High School girls which is completely the opposite
One of the mentees whose journey at ReachOut really stands out to me came to us because she really struggled with her confidence – you could tell it took her a lot to be there. I remember in the very first session, the only thing I could get her to talk about was her dog but as the weeks went on her confidence rocketed!
The other week she volunteered to stand up and present in front of the whole group! You wouldn’t have expected her to do it before, but she just stood up and said ‘I’ll go’ and told us all about the project she was working on. She spoke so clearly and so well.
Seeing her grow in confidence has just been amazing to watch! The other week she did a quiz on me to find out which Harry Potter house I’m in and was laughing at me for being a Hufflepuff, things like that she just wouldn’t have come out with before. In group sessions she’s more vocal and tries to make herself heard a little bit more, whereas before she would just sit in the background.
For me, being a mentor has really taken me out of my comfort zone. It’s helped me to challenge myself and to realise that I can do it. I think they’ve taught me just as much as I’ve taught them!
I feel like I’ve come into a family and been accepted and that’s before even meeting the children. It’s such a rewarding thing to do and you’re brought into a really loving community of everybody working together and no one trying to compete with each other. If you want a challenge, to take yourself out of your comfort zone and do something really rewarding this is a pretty good thing to do!
“At first, I was really hesitant to take on the Project Leader role, despite having mentored with ReachOut. However, with the support of the team I’ve really developed my skills. For example, at the Mentee Graduation, I stood up in front of 200 people and presented an award which is something I would never ever have been able to have done before, and isn’t an opportunity I could gain in my other situations.”
Amy McCutcheon, Project Leader at ReachOut Academy, Dean Trust Ardwick, Manchester.
“Being able to spend the summer working at Rede Partners, was an amazing experience. Whether it was working in HR or Finance, I learned so much about the world of private equity, made great connections with fantastic people and I got to learn first-hand what it would be like to work there! I really believe that I can go onto build the career I want now I’ve been a part for a workplace for real”
Victor Adekunle, 18 years old, ReachOut Ambassador, London
“When I first my mentee, she was very reluctant to participate in the sessions. Now, I see a completely different person! Her confidence has grown and she is happy to join in! She still has some self-doubt when it comes to academic work, but that’s what I hope to help her overcome, because she is a very bright person!
Through mentoring, I’ve learnt I’m a lot more patient than I realised. There will be days where she refuses to participate and those are the days that I really see the importance of the character strengths, for both the mentees and the mentors. It also makes it easier for the mentee to understand the character strengths, when I use them myself”
Myrtle, ReachOut Club mentor at Tufnell Primary School, London
“There are more distractions than ever outside of school, and the commitment of our students to attend ReachOut sessions is testament to the value they place on the relationships they foster there, and the challenge and enjoyment they provide.
ReachOut’s focus on communication skills and character development has become an important aspect of our provision of support for these students. The opportunity to relate to a positive role- model other than their usual teachers is key to the programme’s impact, and the evidence of this has been seen in the students’ attendance, resilience and to their overall progress across all the subjects in the school.”
Thomas Janvrin, Assistant Vice Principal at the Petchey Academy London