Seb the Scientist – our #UnexpectedMentor

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/volunteer/

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WHAT JAMES DID NEXT…

What james did next… We are pleased to share the following case study from one of our Academy projects which highlights the transformative effect and

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CASE STUDY

“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.

CASE STUDY 03

“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

CASE STUDY 02

“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

CASE STUDY 01

“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