Rosie is the Office Manager at Trinity Leeds shopping centre and has recently completed a secondary school mentoring programme as part of Landsec’s social engagement programme with Ahead Partnership. For National Mentoring Day she tells us about her experience and why she recommends organisations and their employees take part in this type of social value work.
I decided to take park in the Share Your Spark mentoring to give my time back to students who had perhaps become demotivated following the pandemic. As a Mental Health First Aider, I know its impact on wellbeing has been massive and I wanted to do something to help those who may not be brimming with confidence and positivity following many months of disruption. Having worked with Ahead Partnership previously on a variety of school engagement projects, I was excited to be part of a new format activity which would enable us to make a significant impact on young people in the local area who are sometimes overlooked.
Honestly, when I started I didn’t know what to expect! I was hopeful that it would be an opportunity to engage with students on a more one-to-one level, however, I did not anticipate just how rewarding it would be.
Mentoring sessions were focused around specific topics, for example CV creation or interview techniques. We worked with the students to establish their understanding of these topics and then tailored our advice accordingly. There was always some form of fun activity worked into the session which helped lighten the mood and make the students feel more relaxed on what could otherwise be a daunting task. Plus snacks were firmly established as being necessary for mentoring!
Being a mentor has really exceeded my expectations and I have found it to be one of the most rewarding roles I have played in my 14+ years of working with community partners. The value in being able to coach and develop individuals and see someone’s confidence grow over the sessions is immeasurable. Every person has their own story to tell in life and sadly sometimes people are unable to use their voice, so to devote time and make a student feel heard is absolutely fantastic. It was also great to hear feedback from the students at the end of the programme and see how they felt the sessions had gone, understanding where they feel value has been added and use this to help others again in the future.
On top of it being very rewarding for the mentors and highly valuable for the students I wish it was something that was more widely available. I heard time and time again during the programme that the mentors wished they’d had the opportunity to be part of something similar when they were students and have access to professionals who could impart their knowledge. I definitely think mentoring is something we should all do more of to help build the confidence and prospects in future generations.
If you get an opportunity to take part in an Ahead Partnership mentoring programme then I say do it! It may be that your organisation is looking for a way to help your local community and this is a very effective way to do it. Mentoring is so very rewarding and the return on investment on your time is vast. I can’t wait to meet our next round of mentees later this year!