Patrick, a Parts Advisor apprentice with BMW, and Allan, a retired engineer, stopped by the MCR office to give us an update on their lives and to discuss mentoring. The two men’s deep similarities extend beyond their career choices. Coming from the same kind of background, they shared a similar direct and down-to-earth approach to life. Alan explains why he became a mentor:
“I had a lot of problems in my youth as a teenager – hard, hard problems – and I had to sort them out by myself. When I retired after working for 45 years I felt like I could give something back. As a mentor, it’s given me tremendous satisfaction helping someone through hard problems like I faced,” Allan explaining why he decided to become a mentor.
Patrick, a graduate of St. Mungo’s Academy, had a difficult home life and was invited to participate in the MCR mentor programme.
“I was interested in the extra support. My Pathways Coordinator explained how it could help my future, that MCR have mentors that are or were in the line of work that you want to enter in. I thought it was worth a try.”
Allan mentored Patrick for a year and advised him on career options and gave him the kind of honest advice he needed.
“I felt like the barrier between teachers and pupils disappeared when I met Patrick. He was perhaps a little shocked being confronted with a guy that could speak the same language as him! Someone who could be sometimes painfully honest with what I had to say to him and to tell him as well that he could say what he liked back to me.” Allan, speaking of their relationship.
“Allan made a huge difference to me because he was there to provide support for my personal life. I did go through quite a bit at the time but he was there to support me personally and academically. In my last year, I wasn’t getting on too well in my subjects but I spoke to Allan about it and he set me straight. He showed me how school can make a massive difference to your life.”
Getting a job was a “lightbulb moment” moment and turning point for Patrick. Allan described that it helped “Patrick come out of his shell. He was pretty introverted when I met him and he just developed as a person. He suddenly realised after he got his first job that he could see his pathway. He could see that his way forward was to leave school after fifth year and get an apprenticeship.”
Patrick agreed, and summed up how mentoring had a huge impact on him, and how it could help other young people.
“As a young person, you might not think you need the support. That’s what I was like – I don’t need the support, I’m fine – but I’ve done this programme and it really did help me with confidence.”
When we asked what he would say to other people considering mentoring, Allan was ardent. “You’ve got to go for it, if you’ve got something to offer and it’s in you. I met so many different mentors in the MCR programme. There’s not two the same, men and women from different walks of life: professional musicians, retired people, teachers, firemen, policemen, I’ve met them all. Everyone really has something different to offer and the MCR programme is clever enough to pair you up with a person that matches your personality. I’d say to anyone that’s thinking about it – try it because it’s worth it.