Clyde 1’s Amber Zoe Meets her Young Person
A new school term. Full of new faces – new pupils, new teachers and new challenges. As someone who now has a busy job in media after completing school and university, the thought of heading back into the school environment should be a breeze, especially since my school days are long behind me (and I loved them). But I had those back-to-school butterflies, the apprehension and the nerves. Because not only was I heading back to school, I was entering a completely new school, one I had never been in before – I was the new kid.
Although at 23 years old I am confident and used to speaking and presenting (I talk on the radio for a living for crying out loud!), it was so daunting walking into a school building with teenagers shouting and frantically running around, finding new classrooms and following new timetables. It was then I realised, ‘we are all in the same boat here’! This is how everyone else must feel – the teachers, the pupils and of course, the MCR Pathways mentors.
I was back at school for this very reason, to be a mentor, something I had never done before. Signing up, I didn’t even have to think twice. The chance to improve a young person’s life and school experience and develop their talent was an opportunity I never wanted to miss. I was told about MCR Pathways by my boss, Brian, who had a passion for developing and nurturing young people to become the best version of themselves. When I heard about the work MCR Pathways did, I was immediately taken in and wanted to be a part of the revolution.
MCR Pathways is a school-based mentoring programme, supporting those young people who are either in or on the edges of the care system by recruiting, training and matching volunteer mentors to each individual young person, in order to help them visualise and reach their full potential. The charity was founded by Iain MacRitchie, a social entrepreneur, who was determined to support disadvantaged young people in Glasgow and saw a window of opportunity.
MCR Pathways was trialed in St Andrews Secondary in the East End and quickly it was obvious the benefits mentoring had within the school for the attendance, happiness and confidence of pupils. The programme was so successful that it has now expanded in to all 30 Glasgow secondary schools and has started to roll out into other Local Authorities. One of the aims of MCR Pathways is that every disadvantaged young person receives the same education outcomes and career opportunities as every other. Each school has a dedicated Pathways Coordinator who works with the individual pupils and their mentors.
The amazing thing about mentoring is it’s only 50 minutes out of your full week, one period a week for the young person – yet it means so much.
I would urge anyone to sign up to become a mentor – it’s so rewarding. So far my young person and I have started to build a trusting relationship and we share skills and stories. Meetings can be about school, chatting about hobbies, playing games or learning new things – it’s all about being that reliable person, there for your mentee on a one-to-one basis. I enjoy listening to my young person’s goals and ambitions and finding out what they have a passion for and also what they struggle with.
The great thing is that you are not a teacher and therefore you can just be yourself around them and chat like you are talking to a friend, because that’s what you eventually become.
No matter your age, gender, background or interests YOU can be a mentor and change a young persons’ school experience.
I have a really busy diary, yet it’s only 50 minutes a week and the benefits are so worth it. I am going to be posting regular updates about my MCR Pathways journey and sharing some ideas from meetings.
All across the city, each and every week, mentors like Amber are visiting their young people to provide support and a listening ear simply because they care. Can you become a mentor and spend just one a hour a week to help transform a life? We’re still looking to match another 765 young people in Glasgow. Hear the stories of some of our young people who benefited from having a mentor in our latest video.