In addition to their studies, a number of our young people are also primary carers for parents or guardians and have a lot more on their mind than the typical teenager. Charlene*, from St Machar Academy in Aberdeen, is one such amazing young person.
She had been a young carer for her mum since a young age so Charlene was used to juggling home life and school work but with important exams on the horizon, she needed a little more support. Charlene joined Young Scottish Talent when it was launched in her school in 2017. Caring for her mum at home meant Charlene didn’t always have the time or strength to give to her studies and the school’s Pathways Coordinator felt that a mentor could help stabilise Charlene’s school life.
During her 4th year at school, Charlene was matched with mentor Ali who straight away provided a strong, nurturing role model and a capable helping hand with her studies. The pair met weekly in school and Ali was able to talk to Charlene about her hopes for the future and how she could achieve them. She helped with applications and even took Charlene to visit the university she hoped to attend. Having someone there to listen and even provide practical help was a massive boost to Charlene’s confidence.
Ali is a passionate supporter of the MCR Pathways programme and speaks so highly of her mentee and their weekly meetings. She told us:
“I love our conversations. I always come back to the office smiling. I look forward to seeing my mentee each week. If I have the opportunity to support a young person in need of a friend, then why on earth wouldn’t I?”
When lockdown began in 2020 for Charlene, like many pupils, the worry about the future was a daunting challenge. On top of this, by being at home as a young carer, the impact of lockdown was also suffocating. Always positive though, Charlene told us:
“I was lucky enough to have a caring MCR Pathways team, including my mentor who would give me regular chats through video calls, phone calls, and recently going out on socially distanced walks with me. In isolation, mental health can easily be affected so I think it’s important that young people have someone to help them feel less alone.”
Charlene has gone on to study Psychology at University in Aberdeen, even settling into her own accommodation with support from her Pathways Coordinator and her mentor, Ali, whom she still keeps in touch with. The pair even shared their experience with STV News and the strength of their bond was apparent. Charlene is a very mature and positive person but, like all young people, she just needed someone to be her cheerleader and with that person in her corner, she has the strength to go far.
Could you be that extra bit of support for an incredible young person? Sign up today to #BeTheBridge between a young person’s talent and life opportunities.