We understand you’re partaking in the King’s Experience London Award – what made you choose ReachOut as your volunteering project?

The King’s Experience London Award recognises the contribution to a local community – and this made me think of my involvement with ReachOut. Mentoring is beneficial and impactful, especially at ReachOut, where programs are based in some of the most disadvantaged communities in London.

Furthermore, I recall from the training that ReachOut believes no one is a complete product, and the mentoring program facilitates growth for both mentees and mentors. I also recognised the skills I would gain from this experience such as empathy, communication and time management, and how they would contribute to my personal and professional development -- another key criterion for the Award.

How has volunteering with ReachOut impacted or influenced your University experience as a whole?

Volunteering with ReachOut has served to enrich my time at University and has proven to be a very different experience from other extracurricular activities.

Mentoring is highly rewarding as you embark on a journey of learning and development with your mentee, and you’re able to see them grow along the way.  

As this is completely unrelated to my law degree, it is a break away from University and has become a stress-reliever. Furthermore, the much-needed break allows me to continue on with the challenges within University.

Has mentoring helped you with your studies at University in any way?

Prior to the weekly sessions, the Project Leader sends out the session plan and academic worksheets which I read through to ensure I understand the topics and can explain them to my mentee. With my studies, there is a heavy workload and demanding prep work required so time management is imperative to be on track with my studies and ReachOut has helped me with this. 

Whilst working on academic worksheets, I sometimes need to explain certain concepts several times, and even after my best effort, my mentee may still be as clueless as she was at the beginning. This can be very deflating, but I have developed patience and resilience from the process. A significant portion of law school concerns reading lengthy and complex legal text where you need the patience to finish the sometimes incredibly long cases, and the resilience to re-read and further research concepts not yet grasped.

Do you find volunteering once a week gives you a break from your ‘daily bubble’ at University?

Definitely. University life has been very hectic with job applications, coursework, and extracurricular commitments. It is a stressful time, and most conversations at university do not stray away from these topics.  

My 40 minute journey to the primary school transports me away from these worries and during the session, I am completely engrossed in the activities with my mentee, where my only concern is her progress and performance. It’s a break from my own world and my troubles, where the focus shifts to my mentee.

The great thing about mentoring at a primary school is being around the lively and carefree students. The positive environment lifts my spirits, and even when I walk into a session tired and demotivated, at the end of the session, I leave energised and happy.

Do you think the projects have an impact on the local communities, if so, how?

I think the mentoring projects do have an impact on the local community. ReachOut’s mentoring focuses on both academic and character development which is a great combination. Academically, the focus is on literacy and numeracy, which are the core skills that can lead to stable and higher skilled employment. As ReachOut runs the mentoring programs in disadvantaged communities, the improvement of such skills leaves a bigger impact on the local community. Cultivating character strengths can likewise prevent anti-social behaviour which works to reduce negative social cases in the community. 

If you'd like to sign up to mentor like Simone, click here.