Seb, a scientist in Manchester, is also a mentor for children’s charity ReachOut where he works one-to-one each week with a local young person from Oldham to help raise their aspirations and grow their academic attainment.

Growing up and attending school in Bradford, an area with a high level of poverty, reduced my chances of success from a young age. However, I went on to be academically successful and now work as a scientist in Manchester. Reflecting on my younger years I firmly believe that your background shouldn’t affect what you achieve and I really wanted the opportunity to convey this to young people… and that’s why I started mentoring with children’s charity, ReachOut.

I started mentoring once a week on a project in Oldham where I was paired with a young person, and after just a few weeks I could see an improvement in my mentee’s confidence and his ability; he had the talent but not the conviction. I truly believe it was the mentoring that showed him he could actually do most of the work that was set, and being able to see him improve in front of my eyes was really rewarding.

It wasn’t just me who noticed the improvements either; after just four weeks of the project running, ReachOut received feedback from parents saying they had seen an improvement in their children’s confidence with regards to their schoolwork. This was fantastic to hear as we mentors knew our volunteering was making a positive contribution to a young person in the community as well as their families.

So what skills does a mentor need to have? A common myth is that you need to have worked with young people before… when in fact if you have good active listening skills, you can make a fantastic mentor, irrelevant of any academic successes or experience.

There is also often a distorted view from men about mentoring, I think they can find it hard to speak openly and feel you might require certain skills. However, I think if you are unsure about joining a project (no matter who you are), I would encourage you to do so – not only will it help you develop your communication skills but you are giving something back to the local community, and the sessions are good fun!

Mentoring with ReachOut is truly rewarding, enjoyable and impactful on the local community, it allows you to become a role model to local young people and raise their aspirations… all in one hour a week! I’d recommend anyone who wants to help to donate their time today and start making a difference.

ReachOut, children’s mentoring charity, run projects across London, Manchester and Oldham working with young people one-to-one aged 9 – 16 to raise aspirations, confidence and academic attainment. If you’d like to sign up and get involved, visit our website: www.reachoutuk.org/mentor