Support U 2

An article I wrote for the Hursley intranet. There is nothing confidential in it (and it took me long enough to write!) so I thought it’d be good to share.

The first phase of Support U 2 – a pilot mentoring project for young people run between business, charity, and government agency – came to an end with a celebration evening in the Clubhouse.

What was the project all about?

Support U 2 was started to help hard to reach young people – people not in education, employment or training, and identified as being unlikely to change this without some additional effort.

IBM’ers are already mentors for young people through programmes like MentorPlace. Youth charity, Solent Youth Action (SYA), work with young people through volunteering placements, activities and youth groups. Government agency Connexions provide advice and counselling to young people.

All of this happens already, and makes a massive difference to the lives of thousands of young people.

The unique aspect of Support U 2 was how these organisations worked together. The project brought them together to make a focused, coordinated effort to change the lives of young people identified as being at risk of remaining NEET.

Rather than offer separate programs, they pooled our resources – IBM’s business expertise, Connexions’ expertise at working with NEET young people, and SYA’s expertise at finding young people engaging, educational placements and activities. This was brought together to produce an intensive, coordinated package, tailored to each young person.

What did IBM’ers do?

Each young person was assigned their own IBM mentor. The role of the mentor varied depending on the needs of the young person, but supporting and encouraging was the main task for all.

In addition to this one-on-one support, the young people were invited to IBM Hursley for group activities designed to support the work they were doing with their youth workers and IBM mentors.

These included:

  • An interview skills afternoon, where the young people learnt interview techniques and got to practise them with a series of mock interviews with IBM managers and team leaders
  • An afternoon on writing CVs and filling in application forms, getting one-on-one support from an IBMer to help identify their skills and turn them into words
  • A team-building and communications skills day – focusing on a key improvement area for young people who have spent long times excluded or absent from a school environment

Did it work?

The celebration evening was a chance to see the difference that the project has made to the young people involved. The young people spoke of their experiences and the impact made by the support and guidance received from the IBM volunteers.

One young person described how he had talked with his mentor about ideas of what he wanted to do, and how they worked together identifying places where he could volunteer and get experience.

“My mentor … really spurred me on because it made me feel like I mattered … someone was helping me, not because they had to or it was their job, but because they wanted to help me reach my goal”.

By the end of the project, he was accepted into a full-time place on an agricultural course at college. He also has a number of volunteering placement and work experience positions scheduled until the start of the course, with relevant organisations such as the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

This is a life-changing outcome, and typical of the difference that the Support U 2 project has been able to make.

One Response to “Support U 2”

  1. […] of my mentoring project, Support U 2. I’ve written about Support U 2 already (both before and after), which is why I didn’t post about last week at the time – although the project has continued […]