Corporate mentoring only engages those who are already motivated

Putting it bluntly, gaining the trust and respect of a young person who seems disinterested in anything other than making trouble is tough. Really tough. A mentor needs to have a certain resilience and determination to stick with it, often working through weeks of flak, or (worse) the rejection of silence, all designed to test whether they really care, before there's light at the end of the tunnel. A mentor deployed from the corporate world, often, is simply not equipped to deal with these demands. Mentors from big city firms have limited time but are GREAT at mentoring students who are high flyers in the making: already achieving and who, with a little nudge will raise their gaze and reach even higher. These students will thrive on the connection with the corporate sector; be driven to study harder, go to university or even seek work experience in their own time in the city.

Mentors have to care!

Over the last twenty years, I have seen the ongoing professionalisation of youth workers leave a tight grip around emotional attachment in mentoring – and while stricter guidelines are undoubtedly necessary for child protection, I have always stood firm in my belief that caring is absolutely essential for effective youth work. Mentors have to care. I can train mentors in health & safety and I can educate them in our company values, but I can’t teach compassion.  When recruiting new mentors, a caring heart and a vision for young people is my number one priority – everything else comes later.…

Building relationship is key when switching young people from failure to success

A few weeks ago Tony, along with his seven other classmates at SW!TCH Expeditions, was causing trouble at school. He could not relate to other students, would often blow up in class and beat up younger students if he didn’t like the way they looked at him. When he was agitated he became a health and safety risk - unable to cope with authority and a law unto himself. His Headteacher was giving him one last chance before the threat of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) became reality. Tony was selected as one of the candidates on SW!TCH Expeditions, a programme designed to turn students from persistent trouble-makers into consistent successes.

Reaching isolated young people; growing leaders

I don’t know if it was a sense of loyalty, or ownership – but I remember being keen to stay in the youth group I was involved in as a teenager. While my friends were leaving the club, heading up to join an older group, I stayed behind, eager to help out in any way I could. As I became part of the furniture, I found more and more opportunities to come alongside younger members– much in the same way as others had supported me when I first joined. This growing responsibility brought with it a passion for developing these…

Pastoral support: Short-term, light touch vs long-term, intensive

There's no quick fix for NEET young people. A sustained approach, with commitment and long-term funding is what inspires lasting change and creates game-changers like Robyn and Prince Robyn was coming up to her GCSE year, but didn't really care about school work. Her mentor noticed that her attitude to school was quite negative although she had plenty of time for doing things other than homework! Her mentor expressed her concern and in one of those conversations Robyn was struck by the fact that her mentor seemed to have a strong vision for what she could accomplish through her school work.