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Celebrating ThinkForward’s volunteers

It’s volunteering week and we’d like to give a shout out to the amazing volunteers who offer wonderful opportunities to our young people. We have some brilliant businesses who enable their staff to volunteer as mentors, and others who host activities such as workplace insight days, CV workshops and interview skills sessions.

These invaluable experiences help to open up new windows on the world. Sophie, a student in Kent had a volunteer from Deloitte. She said: ‘Mentoring has been an amazing opportunity. I’ve learned so much from my mentor and really enjoyed getting an insight into what it’s like to be in the workplace.’

London student Sabrina explained: ‘I’ve become more confident because I’ve had lots of opportunities to do new activities like career talks and business insight days. I get to meet and speak to a lot of new people. It’s helped me to see the point of learning because now I get the connection between working hard at school, getting a job and moving on to the next stage of my life.’

While volunteering has an obvious benefit for the young people it is also hugely rewarding for staff. Alison Payne at COOK said: ‘‘When we hold insight days or mentoring sessions there is a lovely benefit for our team as it gives them a chance to grow and develop their skills in public speaking, coaching, mentoring and relationship building. The young people build their confidence and learn skills to help them become work ready and be clearer about their ambitions for the future.’

Ardian run mentoring sessions and have recently responded to a request for volunteers to review CVs to ensure each young person does justice to their skills & talents. Matt Thornton who manages the relationship said: ‘I feel very fortunate to work for an organisation which encourages and actively recruits people who are focussed on more than just financial success. I have the real sense when I talk to my colleagues that they have the awareness and decency to realise that the impact of this pandemic reaches far beyond their own family and work lives, and that they appreciate only too well that many young people will be needing even more support than ever.’

Billy in Kent described how having a volunteer mentor helped him build new skills: ‘I think the difference between what I learn at school and what I learned at business mentoring is the realistic side of things. We did a session about interviewing for jobs which definitely helped me when I went for a part-time job interview. They explained that I shouldn’t slouch, to speak properly, and all the stuff that I needed to know to get the job. I did the interview and I got the job! It’s given me more confidence.’