Many young people in the Young Scottish Talent programme will have to face difficulties in life that their peers never will, but things can work out and get better if the help is there. MCR Pathways strives to bridge the gap and provide the much-needed support and guidance that no young person should miss out on.
Yao* was a young person in much need of this support. He arrived in Scotland as an unaccompanied minor, originally from China and an orphan. He had been taken in by an older lady who was his only guardian until she passed away. Experiencing so much loss so early in life, Yao also faced even more disadvantages trying to learn a new language completely foreign to him. With little support at home and a feeling of isolation from his peers due to the language barrier, Yao was a perfect fit to be supported by an MCR Pathways mentor in his school in the south side of Glasgow.
When the Pathways Coordinator at St Margaret Mary’s Secondary, first started to look for a mentor for Yao, she wanted to match him with someone who could relate to the grandmother figure he had benefited from before. Thanks to the diversity of mentors registered at MCR, a perfect candidate was found to help Yao in a number of ways. Anne stood out as a good match particularly because of her job as a speech and language therapist and she was more than ready to help Yao learn English, but also provide a nurturing and consistent figure in his life. Irene knew the benefits the pair would have together and was very hopeful for the impact it would have on Yao. Although he was a very shy character, Yao and Anne managed to build a good relationship over time, one Yao knew he could rely on.
His confidence grew so much that he started opening up to more opportunities and joined Anne in her volunteering at a local food bank. During the October break, Yao and a group of ESOL pupils even organised a food bank in school over 4 weeks. This encouragement to get involved in the community and school helped build confidence for the shy pupil and developed his language skills too.
Despite having to sit exams in a relatively new language, Yao managed to do very well in his prelims and set his sights on a place at university to study Computer Science. Anne supported him through all of this and made sure to keep meeting up with him even during the school holidays. With help from the school, she also managed to organise work experience with the engineering department of the council which was hugely beneficial in helping him to identify his future plans.
As Yao’s English started to improve, so did his confidence at school and he became more engaged in activities with the Young Scottish Talent programme. Yao then received the amazing news that he had secured himself conditional offers to study at university, delighting Anne who then helped him apply for the Robertson Trust which would help ensure he was financially able to proceed with his dreams for higher education.
This is an incredible story of a young person who had suffered so much in their early life and overcame all the odds, thanks a great deal to Anne. Yao’s journey is a unique one and certainly one that was tough, but he’s achieving everything he’s capable of in life now. The pair have continued to keep in touch even after moving on from school and we hope he continues to feel the support that all young people should receive.
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