A Volunteer Mentor’s Blog – Emma’s Story

I was inspired to write this, my first ever blog, by my mentee who is a regular contributor to the Starting Point Facebook pages and twitter feed. For me, this is exactly what Starting Point is about – inspiring each other. 

As a mentor I get a lot out of our relationship. In a previous role I managed a large team and genuinely relished the challenge and opportunity to invest in and develop people. Career progression meant I graduated from a role managing people to a role managing product. Over time I realised how much I missed this human element and as such, use Starting Point to supplement my career goals. It also helps me keep a hand in management should I ever wish to return to a people focused role in the future. 

I found Starting Point through a simple Google search and went along to Mentor induction training where I first met Sam, the Project Manager. This was my first exposure to Traffic Light Mentoring, a way to track progression in the mentoring cycle – with Starting Point you are fully supported with the tools you need to be a great mentor. It was a revolution for me that contributing / giving back didn’t just mean money but could mean time. Volunteering with Starting Point is flexible, all mentoring sessions are agreed direct with your mentee, and you can make such a difference in an hour a week. Regular sessions where you share ideas and review the week are a key part of the structure. You should be willing to prep and invest in this time – and you’ll want to – because you do really get so much out of these sessions. 

I see my main role as a mentor to encourage and instil confidence with a little bit of practical advice along the way – the hard work is really done by the mentee! Throughout my time with my mentee we have worked on their CV, submitted numerous online applications and prepped for interviews. This is alongside discussing the latest Game of Thrones and our favourite authors, plus what’s going on in the news this week. As a product of these sessions, my mentee has got to a final stage interview AND hot off the press, has just received their first job offer. I am so proud to see what mentee has achieved and am thrilled to have been just a small part of their success. 

Based on this experience, I am so bought in to Starting Point that I now work with them on their LinkedIn page and am working with the team to build a plan to approach local businesses and engage them with Starting Point. As a business there are so many ways to get involved, whether that is to donate, provide work experience opportunities or support those who wish to volunteer themselves and become mentors. It is amazing to be so involved in a local project where you can share in their ambition and goals and genuinely make a difference to the local community.

In terms of mentoring, I genuinely look forward to our sessions and would encourage anyone with a nurturing nature to get in touch with Starting Point. You could make a difference, and even make a friend. 

Meet the Project Coordinator

Rebecca Baker is the Project Coordinator for Starting Point and has been part of the team since 2014. Here she gives a short interview about her role, the highlights of her work, and her own interests.

What the role involves:

“Mentoring; supporting some of the mentors; administration of various areas of the project, including recruitment, databases and record-keeping, updating and implementing project policies and procedures; organising work experience placements; planning events.”

Rewards of the role:

“Seeing the young people we support take steps forward in personal growth. It’s always brilliant when they find a job or get a place on an apprenticeship or training course!”

Highlights/Best bits:

“The highlight of my time with Starting Point was when a young person that I had been supporting for 2 years, finally managed to get a job after overcoming lots of setbacks. She is still there now, more than a year later, and is doing great within the role!”

Why volunteer at Starting Point?

“Standing alongside a young person to encourage and support them in their journey can make a huge difference in helping them find a more hopeful future.”

Typical day of work:

“My day can be very varied! There are usually lots of admin tasks such as checking emails and responding to anything urgent, developing new evaluation forms, processing new volunteer applications, emailing mentors with information on job opportunities and training courses, or requesting timesheets. I may also be meeting a young person to work on their CV, or catching up with one of my mentees on the phone.”

Hobbies and interests:

“Time with family, good food with friends, visiting Cornish beaches, baking cakes, watching films.”