Share an hour, change a life – how mentors are helping Lochaber High pupils

Published by The Oban Times

Holli Salmond, pictured, is the recently appointed Pathways Coordinator. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, NO-F06-Holli-Salmond
Holli Salmond, pictured, is the recently appointed Pathways Coordinator. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, NO-F06-Holli-Salmond

“Motivation, Commitment and Resilience, the three qualities to cultivate in our young people,” said Dr Iain MacRitchie, founder of a charity set up to do just that.

Working in schools across the country, employees and volunteers of MCR Pathways now live up to these ideals by interacting with young people within the school environment whose circumstances can impact these life skills.

And pupils at Lochaber High have started focusing on mental health and wellbeing, resilience, teamwork, building relationships, and useful life-skills under the guidance of Holli Salmond, the recently appointed Pathways Coordinator.

Working with first and second year students, Holli leads group work to build their confidence and self belief.

However in delivering these opportunities to students from S3 onwards, she is helped by volunteers from the local community who share a hour a week in meeting up with a student within the school to talk, listen and encourage them to be all they can be.

She said: “MCR mentors help young people to develop their study skills, increase their confidence, manage their stress and develop goals and aspirations. In other words, to be mentored through MCR is a life-changing experience on a number of levels.

“We need people who can help these young people find, grow, and use their talent. The word ‘mentor’ may seem daunting, but if you care, you’re qualified.”

However mentors will be given training by Pathways before being accepted in the role, ensuring they are fully aware of what is expected and can be carefully matched with a pupil.  Pathways also supply games and other ‘icebreakers’ to help with meetings.

Several mentors are already working with young people at Lochaber High School, all of whom enjoy the experience and building a relationship with the youngster.

One said: “I really look forward to my meeting each week and in a short time have built up a good relationship, really just by talking in general about a whole range of things, having a laugh and joke, enjoying each others company.

“The young person drives the conversation, but that doesn’t mean you are not helping. Being a mentor needn’t be about having ‘deep’ discussions with an individual, but about listening and helping through being genuinely interested in what is being said.”

More mentors are needed and enquiries can be made through the MCR Pathways website, which also gives a great insight into just what is expected of a mentor. It can really make a difference to the life of a young person.

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