Why did you choose to become a Project Leader?

I think firstly, it stems from the fact that I grew up with really inspirational role models in my secondary school and college education that helped me to make great life choices. With ReachOut, I loved the idea that adults from all walks of life could come in to a space and make impressions on young people, and becoming a project leader would be a really important part of that process. I also think that University can be a bit of a bubble sometimes so I wanted to build leadership and communication skills outside of that setting and challenge myself in a new way to help with my employability.

 What was it like to lead a group of young people and mentors?

At the very beginning of my Project Leader journey I was really nervous to have the responsibility of a project of 10 young people and 10 volunteers. The thought of speaking in front of a big group and having to be ‘in the moment’, as in to think about how the session would move forward from one activity to the next was terrifying. However, the extensive training received at the London summer residential before projects started in Autumn really helped to equip me with the knowledge of character as well as the skills to run a successful session. In those first few sessions, as I got to know all the personalities of everyone and gain the practical understanding of running and organising a ReachOut project, I felt confident that I could make the time we spent together each week really count for everyone involved. As the year went on I came to understand that each session was different and new challenges would arise each week but with this my adaptability skills grew and I became self-assured in dealing with situations.

What is the best session you've run?

The best ever session I have done was in my second year of being a Project Leader with a group of year 8 girls at Deans Trust Ardwick. I started off the session with a reflection on bullying and got the mentees and the mentors to express their experiences of being ganged up on through art. I was so impressed with the amount of thought put into the exercise. There was a strong sense of empathy as everyone showed fairness when sharing and listening to experiences. We then played a maths bingo game based on converting fractions, decimals and ratios. Although there was an excitable atmosphere, mentees and their mentors worked excellently to stay focused!

In the sports hour, each of the mentees took it in turns to lead a different part of the warm-up. The mentees got creative with some very quirky warm-ups, it was a hilarious time that helped to keep team spirits high! To top off the session the mentees started to use character language to mentor themselves, which was really inspiring. I remember leaving that session absolutely buzzing, excited to share what had happened with my line manager and my friends.

What have you gained through doing the Leadership Programme?

I have so much to be thankful for from doing the Leadership Programme. My confidence has grown immensely and I have built upon skills related but not limited to communication, management and administration. Through ReachOut events and doing training, I have also met and become friends with some amazing people!

In terms of employability, through running a ReachOut club project at Armitage Primary school in Manchester, I managed to secure a teaching assistant job in a year 5 class there straight after university. More recently, I have become a Project Officer for the ReachOut Manchester team and now get to work full-time delivering projects and helping Project Leaders reach their potential. I never expected to be where I am now and I know that this would not have been possible without doing the Leadership Programme. 

Why should other people become Project Leaders?

Where do I begin? Becoming a Project Leader is a unique adventure that will develop you as a person by challenging you in new and unexpected ways. The skills gained are invaluable and will contribute to both your professional and personal life. You will also have access to a diverse training programme, in addition to networking and social events. Did I mention that this position is paid as well?

For me, what stands out is that at ReachOut you are surrounded by an inspiring community of people who will leave lasting impressions on you, from the young people, to other project leaders, to the mentors and to the full-time members of staff. Together this like-minded community makes a positive impact on so many young people and has a fantastic time doing so. So if you are thinking about applying just go for it!

Huge thank you to Lilli for writing about her experiences! If you are interested in becoming a Project Leader like Lilli, we are accepting applications now!

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