Mentoring in Oldham – Jamie’s Story

Oldham was ranked 34th out of 326 areas in England, on the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation, 1st being the lowest (most deprived). *

“Nearly six out of ten disadvantaged children in England do not achieve a basic set of qualifications compared to only one in three children from more advantaged backgrounds. The consequence for these children is a lifelong struggle to gain basic skills, avoid unemployment and to find and hold down a good job. Though qualifications are the most important dimension of educational disadvantage, the challenge goes beyond exams. The chances of doing well in a job are not determined solely by academic success; the possession of character skills like persistence and grit’ also matter. So too do wider opportunities including work experience, extra-curricular activities and careers advice. But, from the earliest ages, social background strongly influences who has these other predictors of later success, meaning that the better-off are multiply advantaged when it comes to winning the race for good jobs.” The Rt Hon Alan Milburn 2014, The Social Mobility Commission

ReachOut exists to change this. We help young people to develop their character, raise aspirations and improve their academic attainment through long-term one-to-one mentoring.

We have partnered with two schools in Oldham Co-Op Academy Failsworth and Newman RC College to inspire a community. Connecting young people from disadvantaged communities with local heroes, and role models to help young people achieve their potential and go on to lead good, successful and happy lives.

This is Jamie’s story a volunteer from investment bank BNY Mellon who tells us why this issue is so important and how volunteering just one hour a week helped develop him personally whilst providing social value and capital to a generation in need.

What made you decide to volunteer with ReachOut?

When it was presented to me it seemed like a really well organised and really beneficial program for the local communities involved. For me personally I wanted to give some time to a charitable cause and I felt I could add the most in an organised and more targeted scheme.

What has your mentoring experience been like?

Really positive. I’ve met some great people and formed friendships that I wouldn’t have ordinarily. Working with the mentees has been really interesting, hearing about what they find challenging and what they enjoy. Although Reach Out is targeted at students who are struggling academically or have behavioural issues you get a great variety of perspectives. The mentees in our group all seem to know each other quite well which can make for boisterous conversation to say the least.

Is there anything you found challenging/difficult in your mentoring role?

Managing moods and maintaining focus. Year 7/8 boys tend to be pretty chatty and want to know what the others are up to so it’s a fine balance between encouraging conversation and dialogue and focus on the task at hand.

Do you think that volunteering has helped you develop new skills?

Maybe not new skills but improvements on current skills. I think I’ve always been quite good at imparting knowledge but the communication element is different with a younger audience, especially if they have behavioural or academic issues, you have to frame the conversation differently sometimes.

What have you learned from your overall experience? Do you think it has changed your outlook in any way?

It has. I think it’s quite easy to write a lot of young people off without really knowing all that’s going on. The learning there is when you see a younger person acting up there is probably a story behind it.

What do you think you are bringing back into the workplace as a result of your volunteering experience?I think I’m probably a bit more patient now when having to train or share knowledge. Because I feel good about what I do one hour a week after work that energy has a way of gaining its own momentum.

You can make a difference like Jamie, register here and begin your mentoring journey with ReachOut today. ReachOut intro video

  • 68% of our mentees** receiving free school meals achieved 5 A*-C grades at GCSE including Maths & English, compared to just 34% nationwide.
  • Less than 1% of our mentees** were NEET 6 months after leaving Year 11.
  • In 2017/18 we are provided mentors to over 750 referred young people across London, Manchester & Oldham.


**mentees here means young people attending 10+ ReachOut sessions in Year 11, the group for which we were able to collect GCSE data between academic years 2010/11 – 2014/15. We haven’t run any Year 11 projects since then. There are 187 young people in this data set.

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“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