Andrew is a first year Business Technology student at Manchester Metropolitan University. Originally from Stockport, Andrew heard about ReachOut after meeting Volunteer Officer, Becky, at a volunteering fair at his university. He has been volunteering at a ReachOut Academy project since March. Becky chatted to him about his experiences so far…

Why did you choose to become a mentor?

I’ve always wanted to volunteer, during school, college and university. I spent my first term looking for opportunities to volunteer but didn’t find anything that suited me. When I found out about ReachOut at The Union’s Volunteering Fair, it seemed like the ideal opportunity because it was only an hour a week which fit in with my university commitments. It seemed like a great chance to try something new, gain some new skills, meet new people and explore a potential career path of teaching for me.

What’s been your experience of mentoring so far?

At first, it was a challenge. Starting part way through the year there was already established relationships and bonds so coming into that was a bit awkward at first. However, we quickly found common ground and we’ve established trust between us. Our common ground is video games so it’s been good to know what they’re all talking about. I’ve really enjoyed finding shared interests.

It’s also really enjoyable because it’s not been that long since I was their age and I’ve been through what they’re going through right now. Their experience of school is already so different to mine though so it’s been good to think about being in their shoes and trying to relate to them.

What is the best activity you’ve done with your mentee/your highlight of your time at ReachOut?

I actually really enjoy working through maths worksheets with the mentees. It’s the one thing that all the boys always think they’re going to hate and they do often struggle and want to give up. But working together through them is so rewarding and we both feel like we’ve achieved something at the end of it. I’m really enjoying being able to support the mentees academically as well as through the character activities. It’s a chance for us all to work on our fairness and teamwork skills and go on the character journey together.

What have you gained through becoming a mentor?

Definitely confidence. I feel much more confident in myself and my ability to communicate with young people. When you’re in a university bubble where you’re communicating with the same types of people all the time, you don’t have to think about your language or the way you explain things. Working with young people you have to be aware of how you explain things so it’s a great challenge having to think about different ways to get across the same information so it’s really helped my communication and problem solving skills.

Why should other people become mentors?

It’s absolutely a change of pace and scenery. When you’re surrounded by the same people at university, it’s a great opportunity to try something new. It’s challenging. It’s great experience and most importantly, it’s fun!