Volunteers from Linklaters and UBS have been taking part in our Challenge Mentoring programme, now in its fifth year running. Designed to raise the confidence of pupils struggling with the transition to secondary school, students referred to the programme may have special educational needs, low self-esteem, difficulty communicating or be finding it difficult to participate in class.
The programme, developed by Inspire’s Additional Needs Team, uses motivational resources and coaching techniques to enable young people to make a change in their lives. Each week the students set mini-targets for themselves, working towards a larger ‘Personal Challenge’ to complete with their mentor’s support.
After undergoing specialist training delivered by experienced Inspire! staff, volunteer mentors met the pupils in a team bonding session before being paired up.
12 year old Adrian from Duke’s Academy was matched with Sahana, a trainee solicitor from Linklaters. Sahana committed an hour each week to support him with the difficulties he was facing at his new school.
Although nervous about coming to Linklaters at first, Adrian soon felt more confident. “Every week we set challenges, like I’m going to do a presentation, and put my hand up more in class, and be more organised with my homework.”
“I think I’m better in class now.”
Although she’d taken part in corporate volunteering opportunities before, this was the first time Sahana had volunteered with young people. “I liked the idea of mentoring someone in this age group, because I feel like it’s an opportunity to actually make a difference.”
“I feel like I’ve really gotten to know Adrian which is really nice. It isn’t just something where I come and give my time to people who are faceless, but the same person week after week. I can see how he’s become more confident in expressing himself.”
Adrian thinks that his mentor has taught him lots of ways to be more organised. However, the best thing about coming to Linklaters is free hot chocolate from the staff canteen!
He’s even discussed future career aspirations with Sahana: “We’ve spoken about becoming an architect a fair bit, and how he can use his drawing skills to help him with that.”
What would Sahana say to other businesses or employees about getting involved in Challenge Mentoring? “I’d definitely recommend it. It’s a good way to spend your time and it’s something different. And it’s beneficial to two people: you as well as the person you’re helping.”
68 pupils from Duke’s Academy and Bridge Academy have taken part in the programme so far, with 100% agreeing that Challenge Mentoring had helped them feel more confident at school. To find out more about taking part, get in touch with our Additional Needs Team.