Published by The Press and Journal
Written by Calum Petrie
A former Lord Provost who found inspiration through an Aberdeen mentoring scheme is urging others to help get young lives back on track.
George Adam, who was Lord Provost of Aberdeen between 2012 and 2017, mentored a St Machar Academy pupil for over a year. He spoke about his experience as a mentor with youth charity MCR Pathways.
Statistics from social research institute Scotcen found that 81.6% of vulnerable young people with a mentor went on to full-time employment or further or higher education. In contrast, 59.8% of those without a mentor did not.
Mr Adam told the Press and Journal it all began with a gut feeling when he saw the role advertised. He was left inspired by his time as a mentor, and has called on others to come forward.
“I was basically looking around for something to do, and saw the volunteer job advertised,” he said.
“It’s not something I’d done before. It just appealed to me, the idea of helping a young person, being a supporter and champion of them. It’s for young people who need a little extra support. I liked the idea of having that one-to-one time.”
The former Lord Provost explained how MCR takes a lot of care in how they match people in the Aberdeen mentoring scheme.
He said: “If there’s 10 mentors and 10 young people needing help, that doesn’t guarantee 10 matches. They try to match people up as best they can. Every young person is different, and we therefore need a whole range of mentors to come forward, with different skills, interests and ideas.
“In the early days of the relationship between me and my mentee, we swapped ideas about why we thought we had been matched together.
“We’re fundamentally quite quiet people, quite thoughtful. But the fascinating thing is that from the moment we met two years ago, to today, there are no breaks in conversation between us. We never stop speaking, there’s always information we want to share with each other.
“That’s testament to how well matched we are as individuals.”
He said he enjoys being part of the Aberdeen mentoring scheme and seeing results.
“I noticed how the young person I mentored became a more confident individual, and seemed to take school and their education more seriously – they wanted to do well. When you mentor a young person, you invest in them. ‘Cheerleader’ is one of the best descriptions I’ve heard of the role. It’s a role I like.”
Mr Adam said that, although young people get help through other channels, the Aberdeen mentoring scheme offers very specific advice. Young people get fantastic support in school from guidance teachers, for example on how to study and revise.
“However, I was able to talk about how it was for me. I’ve revisited my own youth, my own time at secondary school. I found myself thinking ‘could I have achieved more, could I have been a better person?’
“Throughout my life and career, I’ve always thought that teamwork is crucial, and what works best. One person sitting on their own with an idea doesn’t tend to get very far. That’s not the case when people work together, and that’s another thing I’ve learned through mentoring.”
He added: “People would be surprised by how much benefit they could be to a young person, to help them develop and grow.
“Anyone would want to be a part of that.”