Change a Young Person's Future: Become a Raising Aspirations Mentor

Sep 30, 2014

Raising Aspirations was set up in 2011 with the support of Ninesquare Trust and aims to find solutions for young people in Somerset whose attainment in national qualifications lags behind their true potential. In 2013, Somerset was ranked 111 out of 152 local authorities for overall GCSE results, and we are particularly concerned about students from poorer backgrounds whose attainment is, on average, half as good as other pupils.

We recruit, train and support a team of volunteer mentors who each befriend a young person in Year 7 or 8 (12 or 13 years old) and meets them monthly for short sessions. So far, over 100 students have benefited from this one-to-one support.

The interim evaluation of the programme has also thrown up a further interesting finding: it’s not just the young people who have gained from the scheme. The mentors themselves also report experiencing significant benefits and we have recruited and supported 120 community volunteers. Interim results from an independent evaluation by the University of East London have shown that the mentoring support has helped to improve young people’s academic achievement and – just as importantly – improve their confidence and self-esteem.

First, there’s the professional training we provide and the experience in coaching and mentoring: both techniques that are increasingly being used in the workplace and are viewed as desirable assets by employers. Next, there’s the confidence boost that mentors experience, knowing that they are being seen as role models to the next generation.

One of our mentors, an IT Training Manager at Clarks International, said: “I feel I can make a difference by giving them a different perspective on life and their future and help them to consider their choices and decisions. It’s a great programme and I would urge anyone that has a spare hour every month or so to sign up”. Mentors report an intangible, ‘feel-good’ factor that results from knowing that they’ve made a difference – a significant difference – in changing the future direction of a young person’s life.

Another mentor who works as a Project Manager at Clarks International, said: “For me, knowing that my mentee has the support of someone totally independent is probably the biggest thing. They can aspire to things they may be too self-conscious to raise with family and friends. I think the element of making them believe anything is possible and helping to guide them through the process of how they might achieve it is very strong”.

We’re currently recruiting for mentors for this academic year. Our mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and stages of life and we take care to match mentors with the right young person. We provide full training in mentoring techniques and a programme of support. So if you would like to use your skills and experience to raise a young person’s aspirations and give them the best possible start in life, we want to hear from you.

Contact Jocelyn Blacker on 01749 344949 or email for more information.

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