Less than six months since it launched, Bedford Giving has reached a major milestone, as the initial cohort of mentors and mentees met for the first time.
Nearly 50 mentors have been trained by the charity partnership so far, and the first group met with students at Bedford Academy last week to begin their work together.
The volunteer mentors have come from the local community and represent a range of different professions, backgrounds and careers. Each has given up their time to help make a difference to the lives of young people.
The second group will be meeting students from Kempston Academy next week.
Mentors will spend a year working with their allocated student to help raise aspirations, expand horizons, introduce students to the world of work, help tackle any issues holding them back and set realistic goals for education or work.
The mentoring programme is based on the East London Business Alliance (ELBA) Mentoring Works programme, with the aim of increasing employability prospects for the young people taking part.
Bedford Giving’s interim director, Sam Baker said: “Before they met, there was an air of nervous anticipation in the room, not just from the young mentees, but also from the mentors, many of whom hadn’t set foot in a school since the day they left.
“But minutes after they met the room was buzzing with conversation. Seeing the young people animatedly discussing their futures was utterly heartwarming.
“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response about the quality of their interactions from both the mentors and the students.
“Bedford Giving’s ethos is everyone has something to give – whether it is time, skills, funds, knowledge or opportunities. The willingness of the school to engage with the project and to accommodate the sessions, the generosity of the mentors in giving up their time and commitment, and the extensive coordination of 4YP goes to the very essence of the Bedford Giving movement.”
Ahead of the event, delivery partners 4YP painstakingly matched the right mentors with the students taking part.
Alex Parrott, Head of Year 10 at Bedford Academy (BA), said: “We’re so pleased our students are involved in the programme. The look on their faces was all the feedback I needed. They were beaming, and all that I’ve spoken to about it were really positive about the session.
“Having these relationships with the mentors from the Bedford community to help our pupils to reach their full potential, really chimes with the BA Way of being community-minded, driven and aspirational.”
Bedford Giving is a collaboration bringing together passionate funders, businesses and residents to help create a brighter future for young people in Bedford.
If anyone is interested in becoming a mentor for the next intake in 2024, or you want to find out further information about Bedford Giving visit bedfordgiving.org.uk.