News and Blogs

Join the Team

We are recruiting for a PROGRAMME MANAGER. The main purpose of the role is to manage, deliver and develop Starting Point’s two mentoring programmes in accordance with the project’s values and objectives and within The Mustard Tree’s ethos and vision. This is a full-time position of 37.50 hrs per week, which includes some out of office and evening work. 

For more info and to apply click here: https://charityjob.co.uk/jobs?keywords=programme+management&location=reading&radius=20&minsalary=19000&jobId=695739

Thank You McDonalds!

We are passionate about thanking those who support Starting Point.

Thank you to McDonalds who have helped support our work at Starting Point by providing work experience opportunities for multiple young people, allowing them to gain the experience they need to enter into work. Daniel, one of our young people has been working at McDonalds for 6 months you can watch his story here.

To see how your business can support us please click below.

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Introducing… Aspire Mentoring

Aspire Mentoring supports young people aged 15-25 throughout their journey of attaining, sustaining and thriving within education, employment and training. We do this through carefully matching a young person to a mentor who acts as a consistent role model, tailoring the support to each individuals unique needs and aspirations.

Our mentoring has a relational and holistic approach focusing on practical support, such as CV writing or interview skills, and social-emotional support, such as building confidence and self-esteem.

It follows a Traffic Light Journey which ensures that young people are supported not only into, but also within education, employment and training to find out more and to get involved click here.

Introducing… Advance Mentoring

Advance Mentoring is one-to-one mentoring for young people aged 11-19, who are most at risk of exclusion and/or are likely to become NEET upon leaving education.

We ran a successful pilot with 4 schools and colleges mentoring those ‘most at risk’ of becoming NEET. 75% of young people left school/college with a positive destination in place, with the remaining 25% choosing to continue mentoring post education where they are now being supported to take steps into employment.

We are so excited to properly launch advance mentoring, to find out more and to get involved click here.

Thank you to The FSP Foundation

// THANK YOU TO THE FSP FOUNDATION //

We are passionate about thanking those who support Starting Point.

Thank you to The FSP Foundation – a separate grant making charitable foundation set up by Field Seymour Parkes LLP (FSP), a full service legal practice that provide pragmatic solution driven advice for both business and personal affairs. As part of their commitment to CSR, FSP have set up The FSP Foundation with the aim of benefitting and serving local registered charities in the Thames Valley area. The FSP Foundation has sponsored one of our young people for this year as they journey into education, employment or training. This has already provided the young person with a mentor and a mock interview demonstrating FSP’s commitment to making real difference to local’s lives.

Thank You Amito!

We are passionate about thanking those who support Starting Point.

Thank you to AMITO – experts in cloud, collocation and connectivity, who have sponsored a young person as they journey into education, employment or training. Plus a generous donation towards our ‘Young Person Support Fund’ allows us to support multiple young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with interview clothes, travel to interviews and work related documentation. Therefore, this sponsorship and donation are removing barriers and making a real impact to local lives and the wider community.

To see how your business can support us please click below.

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Thank You Pega UK!

We are passionate about thanking those who support Starting Point.

Thank you to PEGA UK who enabled some of their team to share there skills over 3 days at Starting Point as part of the their Corporate Social Responsibility. In their day job the PEGA team offer pathways to making digital transformation a reality. However, through simply offering their time and skills at Starting Point they played their part in supporting us to see a transformation in the lives of local young people.

To see how your business can support us please click below.

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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 Mentoring Lead: Keren Newnham

How long have you been at SP

I began working with Starting Point in April, 2019.

What is your Role title

Mentoring Lead (Traffic Light Mentoring)

What does your role involve

My role involves a number of different aspects.  I receive all the referrals for 16-25 year olds, and organise to meet with new referrals as soon as possible.  I hear young people’s stories, and together with the young person, begin to individually, tailor a mentoring plan that will best suit their needs.  I also meet with the young people quite quickly after the initial introduction, to encourage engagement with Starting Point and answer any questions they may have.  Another aspect is mentoring a number of young people myself, for a longer period of time.

I also assess and oversee mentor/mentee matches.  

Another part of my role is recruiting, training, supervising and communicating with all our volunteer mentors.  I receive their applications, process the paperwork, and make sure they have everything they need to embark on a positive journey as a mentor.

Rewards of the role

So many rewards!  It is a privilege to share in the growth and development of so many young people.  I love hearing their stories, and feel honoured that people share some of the most difficult parts of their lives with me, so that we can work through it together and come out the other side in a healthier, more positive state.  Working together to find what young people love and are passionate about is also a huge reward.  I get excited when someone tries something for the first time, or maybe the 100th time, and they are successful.  Ask a young person who has had a success story recently, and they’ll tell you I get so excited, I jump up and down and want to dance in public!!

I also love working with volunteers, and seeing their passion and gifts utilised in such a powerful and positive way.  Our volunteers are awesome humans, who bring so much experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to their mentoring roles.    

Another highlight, or reward, is the way the Starting Point team work together.  Everyone is very respectful of each other’s gifts and talents, and the conversations we share are all driven by how we can best serve the young people of Reading.  Working with such passionate people, who love what they do each day, makes it a joy to go to work each day.

Why work at SP/why help young people

Starting Point stood out to me as an organisation, initially because of its values.  We strive to unlock potential in young people, enable young people to achieve their dreams and sustain positive change, and then release young people into the world with the confidence and skills to continue striving.  Starting Point also enable each young person to be met where they are at, as an individual with a life journey, who deserves space and time to be heard.  I also really loved the ethos of serving young people in Reading in a practical way.

Why help young people?  Working with young people has always been something I have done, either directly or indirectly.  Too often, young people have lots of expectations riding on them, yet they don’t have the skills, role models or capacity to help them achieve those expectations.  Rather than complaining about the next generation, or moaning about how things were better back in my day, I would rather get stuck in, be a positive role model, make a general impact, and help influence young people in Reading so that they can be the difference in future.

Typical day of work

I am an early riser, so I think best in the mornings and tend to get a lot of paperwork and administrative tasks done quite early.  I start each day by checking my calendar for the next day, and contacting my mentees to confirm our meeting times/locations.  I like a strong black coffee to clear my head, and drink plenty of water whilst I am tapping away at my computer too!  I receive a lot of text messages, so I will also respond to these and make sure I answer any phone calls from the night before.  For the rest of the day, I am running to catch buses, running to coffee shops, or running to a meeting!  You will often see me dashing through town to get from one appointment to the next.  Young people typically like to meet up in the afternoons or evenings, so the rest of the day is spent catching up with them, meeting new referrals, or meeting with volunteers.  A lot of coffee and tea is consumed each day!

Hobbies and interests
I have a family of my own, and I love spending time with them.  I go and watch them in the various sports they play and compete in, help them with schoolwork and generally navigate life.  I also enjoy hosting social events in our home and regularly have people visit with us.  

I love going to the gym and pretending I am really fit and strong.  I’m not really but I can pretend!  I am interested in nutrition and how certain foods/exercise affect our moods and general health.  If I have some time to myself, I enjoy reading and writing, and taking our motorbike out into the countryside for a ride on a sunny day.  I also love learning, and will educate myself about different topics of interest.

Your dream for SP

My dream is for Starting Point to grow into a project that is replicated all over the UK, not because we want to be the biggest and best, but because we want to help as many young people as we can, remove the barriers that stand in their way, and support them into a life of their choosing.  

BCF SHOWCASE 2019

What comes to mind when somebody says the word ‘Berkshire’? Likely the first thing you’ll think of is the town of Windsor and Windsor Castle. Perhaps Legoland or maybe even large towns such as Reading and Maidenhead. But what if I tell you there is a vast number of generous supporters connected with local charities through the Berkshire Community Foundation. The work these charities do transforms not only the lives of those they work with, but also the community around them.

On 16th May 2019, over 80 guests gathered together at the beautiful Ascot Racecourse for Berkshire Community Foundation’s Celebrating Impact: Showcase Event, an event celebrating the achievements and developments of local charities and projects. The groups were invited because of their strong focus and impact on those in need or who are disadvantaged.

Beginning with canapes and drinks, the evening transitioned to a small awards ceremony introduced by BBC Radio Berkshire Sports Presenter Ady Williams, and Chris Dodson OBE DL, Chair of Trustees at BCF, starting with a video showing BCF’s highlights over the past year. Each award winner was introduced through a similar videos with interviews from staff/volunteers and those they have helped. The six awards and winners were:

Content Guru Sponsor Award  – Connecting Communities in Berkshire

David Brownlow Charitable Foundation Sponsor Award – Building for the Future

Ascot Racecourse Supports Sponsor Award – Aik Saath

Vital Signs Award – The Mustard Tree – Starting Point

Police and Crime Commissioner Award – Mock Trials

Mary Bayliss Award – Parents and Children Together

Lady Cathrine Stevenson DL presented the Mary Bayliss Award, which was named in honour and memory of Mary Bayliss, the president of BCF and former Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, who sadly passed in March 2019. The evening was brought to a close by Ady Williams and Chris Dodson.

It was an honour and privilege to attend BCF’s showcase event and to receive an award that celebrates the invaluable support and work from our staff, volunteers, supporters, and also our mentees.

It was a real privilege being invited to such a well put together and celebratory evening. Berkshire Community Foundation have been key in the success of Starting Point, not only in awarding grants but in their ongoing support and encouragement.

Sam Lloyd – Starting Point Manager

We look forward to working with BCF for many years to come.

For more information on the evening, please click on and follow the link to BCF’s own blog about the ceremony: http://www.berkshirecf.org/showcase2019