Starting Point Monthly Update – October

The end of the month has arrived! And what a month we’ve had here at Starting Point.

We launched our new website, pumped out new social media activity almost every day, and have had great feedback not only from our followers, but also from our supporters. In fact, we gained five new followers in our first week! Our blogs are getting great responses too, especially Mentoring in Films and it’s follow up interactive tweet!

Below is a list of activities Starting Point has been involved in throughout October:

1st – Launch of new website, weekly blogs, and social media posts

4th – Transition Mentoring Launch at UTC. 8 young people in their final year are to be mentored

8th – Attended the Berkshire Community Foundation Symposium. A great event for meeting different projects and charities across Berkshire.

12th – Great conversation with one of the partners as Grant Thornton. A local business who continually support us in the work we do. Grant Thornton created the link with UTC.

15th – Transition Mentoring Presentation at Cranbury College NTA. We worked with Cranbury Colleges students last academic year and look to continue our great relationship.

12th – 26th – Met up with 4 new volunteers who are to be trained as mentors in early December.

30th – Starting Point steering group meeting looking at the exciting plans for the project in 2019.

Look forward to November where our blogs will include Meet a Mentor, and the new The Mentoring Of series starting with Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter.

Thank you to everyone who has made this month such a success and here’s to another!

The 16 Personalities Test

Imagine. Just imagine for a moment.

You’re in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, ready for your name to be read out and the Sorting Hat placed on your head. You wonder which House you’ll be put in. Will it be the right one for you? What if the Hat makes a mistake? What if you’re actually a Muggle and you can’t be in a House?

You’re likely wondering “What is this guy on about?” Well, there’s a very good reason why I’m mentioning the Sorting Hat.

The Sorting Hat is practically a test of yourself. It looks into your mind, shifting through personalities. So, in other words, it puts you in the House your personality matches. Take Ravenclaw for example. Students in Ravenclaw are classed as witty, always learning, and having a good imagination. If that’s you, then you belong there.

The 16 Personalities Test works similarly. It asks you a series of questions, and at the end, it takes your answers and places you in a group it feels is correct.

It is important to point out that you won’t always belong to the same group every time you take the test. Who you are now could change completely in five years’ time, maybe even just one year or six months.

I won’t go into details about the personalities themselves, as their website does a brilliant job at it, but I will talk about why taking the test is vital in understanding yourself.

Many people wander through life thinking they know who they are. But there is a good chance they only know a little. The 16 Personalities expands on each area of a person’s life, from everyday habits, to careers and relationships, both romantically and friendly. You might find yourself agreeing with everything or only half, but the fact remains you know more about yourself then you did before the test.

Not only that, at the bottom of your grouping, there is a list of famous people, both real and fictional, who fall into your personality. Some examples are the Queen, Nelson Mandela, Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings, and Willie Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

So take the test and discover your personality. You might find something you never thought was a possibility.






Mentoring in Films


Did you know mentoring takes place in films all the time? Think of a film and there’s bound to be a man or woman teaching and leading a single person or group to achieve the film’s eventual happy ending.

Let’s pick a film at random. Star Wars maybe?

Obi-Wan Kenobi becomes a mentor to Luke Skywalker after the sudden deaths of Luke’s aunt and uncle. Obi-Wan is highly protective of the young man and is dedicated to helping Luke succeed in learning everything he needs to become a great success. Luke also sees his mentor as a father figure and role model. Obi-Wan also helps Luke grow in confidence to the point where Luke will walk into any situation calmly and with no fear. The old mentor even returns after his death to teach Luke and provide him with knowledge and advise.

Another great example of mentoring is Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King. Perhaps one of the best mentors of all time, Mufasa is kind but strict, from teaching the young Simba how to hunt and pounce, to explaining the responsibilities of being a king, and scolding Simba when the lion cub disobeys his father. Like Obi-Wan, Mufasa returns from the dead to continue the mentoring when Simba needs guidance only his father gave give him.

A much more recent film series that features mentoring is the Marvel Cinematic Universe between Iron Man and Spider-Man. Being young with a brilliant mind and superpowers, Spidey needs someone to teach him the ropes of responsibility. Iron Man takes this duty, wanting his mentee to become the hero he isn’t. Iron Man sees a lot of himself in Spider-Man and therefore is greatly invested in his future. He punishes Spider-Man when he puts innocent lives in danger, making the young hero learn to act more responsibly. Spider-Man sees his mentor as the father he didn’t have and wants to please him to prove Iron Man’s investment doesn’t go to waste.

Have you spotted the running theme? All of the mentees are young people with great futures ahead of them. This is exactly what mentoring is meant to achieve!

If you’re a mentor, the next time you watch a film, look out for different types of mentoring and what the positive effects are. You might learn something along the way which could help you with your mentoring skills.

Sarah and Her Music

All of our mentees are talented. One of our mentees, Sarah, is a young person who loves music. She even creates her own, sometimes using her own experiences as inspiration.

Sarah’s love of music began during her time at primary school, when she started playing the piano. But that isn’t the only instrument Sarah plays. She also plays the guitar and has a great singing voice, all of which feature in her published songs.

Sarah likes to think of her music as genre-less, in other words it doesn’t fall into any particular area of music and is a mix of different genres. Her favourite genre is progressive rock, a style that originated in the 1960s and is influenced by classical elements, along with the keyboard and lengthy compositions. Her favourite musician is the British progressive rocker Steven Wilson, listening to his music since she was Year 9.

Sarah is mainly a solo artist, but that doesn’t mean she’s against group work. In fact she is working on an album project with a friend. At Reading College she studied music performance for two years, which included working in bands.

In her early secondary school education, she started writing and recording her own music. But it’s not an easy job and can take up to a week or longer to get the song written. Sarah begins her writing with a lyric book, in which she writes down any ideas she has so she doesn’t forget them. She then plays a few layers on the piano to get an idea of the tune she wants to use, throwing in other instruments such as the guitar or string instruments afterwards. With the tune in place, Sarah chooses the correct lyrics from her book and mixes together the music and words. Then she can record the music, polish it, and publish it.

Sarah publishes her work on the website Bandcamp, a free to use platform for musicians to upload their music so others can listen to it, which only takes a few minutes at the most. Users can also pay to buy songs they enjoy.

It’s not always so easy though. Sarah says getting the ideas is easy, but adding to the ideas and completing the music to a professional standards are the hardest parts.

So where does she get this awesome talent? Well it all comes from her family, because believe it or not, they are all musical. Her mother sings in a choir, her father plays the guitar and saxophone, and her brother plays drums in a band and writes cinematic style music.

Sarah is open to playing in public and with other musicians. For the future, Sarah wants to focus on writing more of her music and getting more people listening.

For any new and aspiring musicians, Sarah’s message is to hold onto your inspiration, don’t hold back when you get an idea, and write for yourself because not only will you like it, but somebody else will too.

Check out and listen to Sarah’s music here: She recommends Wake as the best track for new listeners, being better produced and her first song on Bandcamp!

Introducing Calum

Good morning everybody. Or maybe you’re reading this in the afternoon or evening. No matter, this little blog won’t change depending on the time zone. I hope not anyway.

My name is Calum, with one L. Don’t get me started on two Ls.

I’m a current mentee with Starting Point and also volunteer for the project in social media and community journalism. This is an introduction to me, but don’t worry, I promise not to drag on and bore you with the details.

I was born in the 1990s and have lived in Reading my entire life. Shocking I know. As for my hobbies and interests, I like writing and reading fantasy novels, drawing cartoons/manga-like pictures, and my favourite programme currently is Doctor Who.

I won’t go into why I became a mentee or the experiences I have had being one, because that is better explained in another blog that you will find a link for down below.

My Story – Calum Harbor

Anyway, that’s my introduction over.

I hope you read my story and other blogs and enjoy what I have to say.







Youth Unemployment – Causes and Consequences

Unemployment. Eroding the confidence and asperations of young lives.

Being unemployed, especially long term, can have devastating effects on a person’s life, whether that’s social, financial or another area completely.

Two of the biggest problems and main causes of youth unemployment are a poor education and lack of work experience. Many paths are closed if a young person fails to get the correct grades, and if they cannot find or get experience in their chosen field, it is likely they won’t be offered the job.

That is not to say that young people cannot get jobs without education or experience. The introduction of apprenticeships, spearheaded by the UK government, has opened new paths to young people. Those who might not be educationally gifted could find themselves talented in a more practical job, such as construction or hairdressing.

A third aspect of youth unemployment is a person’s background. A young person from an area of deprivation is more likely to have fewer opportunities than a young person from a rich family. Living in a deprived area within a town will also offer poorer Ofsted graded schools than those in richer areas.

Without jobs, young people can start to feel excluded from social groups and will have a lower life satisfaction than those in jobs. Some will even turn to crime, resulting in prison. Many go on to re-offend and enter a cycle of entering and leaving prison.

However, the main consequence will be on a young person’s health, both physically and mentally. Failure to get a job could result in rigid anxiety or depression, along with a loss of confidence and self-belief.

That is why supporting and helping young people access to education, employment, and training is crucial. They provide a young person with independence, a routine, a new social system, and new opportunities. This not only benefits the individual but also the community they are in and is why we are passionate about seeing lives and whole communities transformed.

If young people can get their foot on the first step, they can begin walking up the rest, and could become something greater than they expected.

Written by Calum Harbor
Starting Point Mentee and Community Journalist



Thank You BCF

Starting Point would like to thank acknowledge the Berkshire Community Foundation for supporting us and our work.

BCF is a foundation that raises funds for local charities and groups and equips them with grants to help build a stronger and fairer Berkshire.

First supporting Starting Point in 2015,  BCF has supported our project over 3 years through mulitple grants around areas such as youth volunteering, recruiting mentors, project development and general running costs.

However, BCF is special and unique when it comes to bid writing and project shaping. They are very relational in their communications around applications and reports. They also hold an annual symposium which is a brilliant networking and equipping event for multiple charities across the county.

Without BCF, Starting Point wouldn’t have had the means to mentor over 120 young people in the local area and battle the root issues regarding unemployment.

Thank you BCF!

“I have been privileged to witness first-hand the very real and transformative impact BCF’s support has had on the lives of local young people.”

Sam Lloyd – Starting Point Project Manager




My Story – Calum Harbor – Part 1

Hi, I’m Calum. I’m a current mentee and volunteer at Starting Point. I help with Starting Point’s social media and community journalism. This is my story.

We all need help. Sure, we like to think ourselves independent, but sometimes we need to realise that we cannot do everything ourselves. Take driving for example. Try doing it yourself the moment you get behind the wheel, and you’ll quickly find yourself lost and making mistakes that a driving instructor could easily rectify.

I was like that, both during my education days and after. I refused to ask for help, preferring to work out the answers myself even if they were wrong. When I left college, I felt lost and confused, not knowing what to do with my life. This began a spiral of anxiety and low motivation. With my parents doing everything for me, and living a life without my friends in the picture, I lost my motivation for searching for jobs. My family tried helping but I pushed back.

I hit a low point. I suddenly looked back at my past three and a half years, and realised I was lonely. Being unemployed and volunteering at a shop where the majority of fellow volunteers were older people, people who were sixty years or above, I didn’t develop the friendships I needed: friends I could hang out with and have a great laugh, maybe go around each other’s houses and watch Netflix. Employment would have helped greatly because that’s how you meet new people, but my anxiety and low motivation stopped me.

My family saw how unhappy I suddenly was and decided to act. With my permission they contacted Starting Point.

Being my nervous self, I was worried and anxious about the meeting. The meeting went better than I could have hoped for. Thankfully my sister came with me and there were cookies too, so at least I had company and comfort food. During the meeting we discussed various things, such as my personality and future goals. I left happy and positive. Another meeting was scheduled the following week in Starbucks and I went by myself. Over the next two or three weeks we worked on my CV and made it look impressive.

They quickly paired me up with a mentor. Having earlier filled in ‘Get To Know You Questionnaires’ about ourselves, we read out our answers. Some areas we were similar, others far apart, but overall Starting Point had found a good match. We started meeting at the local Costa Coffee every week afterwards.

The mentoring hit a slight bump. I felt we were moving too fast. I handed in my CV into Costa Coffee. My anxiety suddenly hit fever pitch. It took over. I found myself dreading them calling. Maybe offering me an interview. My stomach felt like a butterfly sanctuary. My mind was taken hostage. I found myself unable to concentrate on things properly. Would I have taken it if they asked? Yes. But I was still worried. Thankfully my mentor saw this and we decided to slow down and strengthen my confidence.

Now with a better understanding, my mentor and I planned to increase my soft skills, personal skills you can develop rather than learn. That’s what great about Starting Point. They understand you. They know people do things differently and not at the same time. They’ll happily mentor you until you feel ready to go solo and give you the pushes needed to make that happen.

After a while, we ended the soft skills and focused our sights on jobs. My mentor gave me the idea of looking to apprenticeships and I suddenly came to the conclusion of what I wanted to do: journalism or marketing, because I love writing literature such as blogs and novels. I contacted my local hospital radio and now volunteer on Saturday nights. Starting Point also gave me another major boost to further my goal. They set up a meeting with Reading Voluntary Action, them offering me a role as a community journalist at their awards night.

Having missed the opportunity for apprenticeships, I started volunteering at Starting Point in a social media and journalist role.

To conclude, Starting Point and the whole mentoring experience have opened up my eyes to things I closed them to. I told my mentor last year I wanted something to change within the year. That has happened. I might still be unemployed, but I now have a goal, more confidence, and more experience with certain skills. Without Starting Point, none of this would have been possible. They helped me when I needed it most. They’ve been nothing but supportive and encouraging.

My mentor hasn’t given up and they’ll ensure I stand tall, because when everything looks bleak and the darkness feels suffocating, something comes and provides hope.

Starting Point is that something.

Written by Calum Harbor
Starting Point Mentee and Community Journalist

Our Volunteers

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world”

Dr. Seuss

Here at Starting Point our volunteers are our backbone. They are the heroes who listen to young people and support them through the good and bad times. Volunteers happily give up their time to ensure young people have somebody they can rely on and talk to about the difficulties they encounter. They do not ask for a thank you. They do not ask for a reward. They are not selfish and will not turn their backs on young people.

Since Starting Point began in 2012, we have had over 60 volunteers. The majority of our volunteers are local to the Reading area, mentoring local young people across the borough.

So what does volunteering at Starting Point involve?

Mentoring at Starting Point involves meeting up with a young person (a mentee) once a week. This could include anything, such as searching for jobs and writing a CV, to activities aimed at boosting a mentee’s confidence. Even if you just talk about what’s happened during the week, you will be increasing a mentee’s social skills. A lot of mentee find they have nobody to talk to, so you could make a massive difference in their lives.

However, Starting Point doesn’t only offer mentoring. We have volunteers who help with administration, media and design, and photography.

So do you or someone you know have something to offer Starting Point? You don’t need to be Superman or Wonder Woman. You just need to be kind, compassionate, and have the time to get to know a young person and understand the aspects of their lives.

If you can do this and want to learn new skills, then click below to get in touch.
Contact Us

Here’s what our volunteers said about volunteering with Starting Point:

“Volunteering a small amount of time once a week has the potential to change someone’s life.”

“The best thing about volunteering is seeing the mentees I work with grow in confidence.”

“I volunteer with Starting Point because I want to be able to help young people who are less fortunate than myself.”

Written by Calum Harbor
Starting Point Mentee and Community Journalist









Meet the Project Manager

Sam Lloyd is Starting Point’s Project Manager and has been at Starting Point since July 2016. Here he gives a short interview about his role, the highlights of his work, and his own interests.

What the role involves:

“In a nutshell, I oversee the running of project. This includes recruiting and training mentors, meeting and matching the young people, monitoring and supporting each mentoring match. I also manage the budget, connect with businesses and other services and strategically plan for the growth of the project. I am also a mentor to young people not yet ready to match to a volunteer.”

Rewards of the role:

“Seeing the lives of local young people transformed. What makes me love my job is knowing that we are not just supporting young people find a positive destination, but we are seeing the direction of their future change course.”

Highlights/Best bits:

The highlight is always at the end of mentoring, looking back with a young person at how far they have come and seeing them beam with pride in what they have achieved – Whatever that may be.”

Why volunteer at Starting Point?

“To come alongside someone, take a genuine interest in them, and support them as they journey through a difficult yet crucial stage in their life, is such a simple and easy thing to do. Yet it has a transforming impact.”

Typical day of work:

“Every day looks completely different as I am always meeting different people. This may be a mentor, a young person, a manager at a business, someone at school, another community group. I enjoy the excitement of each day being different and meeting people I would have never met otherwise.”

Hobbies and interests:

”I enjoy playing guitar and writing songs. I watch and play a lot of football. I have a son aged one so my favourite hobby is playing with him.”

Sam’s dream for Starting Point:

“I hope to grow Starting Point here in Reading without losing our relational approach. I also long to develop the project to a point where it can be replicated in other town across the region so that more young people can have access to a mentor who can journey with them into education, employment and training.”