Samuel Rhodes Mentoring
Written by Maria Tonchievici, Project Manager, Big Alliance
Could mentoring have a positive impact on young people with special education needs and their mental health?
After a wait of two years due to the pandemic, the Samuel Rhodes Mentoring programme has officially been launched! This is a programme created for a cohort of students with special education needs from Samuel Rhodes School aimed at helping them to stay engaged with education, make informed choices about their futures and progress into work or further learning. Eleven students are matched with a mentor from Euromonitor who has been trained to help them. They will meet 10 times – at the launch event, followed by eight one-to-one mentoring sessions lasting 60 minutes each in the Euromonitor office, and finally at the Celebration Event attended by mentors, mentees and their parents. Mentors will work through activities and games with the students which will help improve their confidence and skills for work. The students will also have a fantastic opportunity to experience hands-on work experience in certain departments like Communications, IT, Human Resources, Reception and learning to be a barista.
Euromonitor International’s relationship with Samuel Rhodes School (SRS) extends back to 2015, having previously offered an unstructured and flexible mentoring programme to their students. In 2017, The BIG Alliance and Inspire! were invited to collaborate to create a bespoke programme. Using their collective expertise in running school mentoring programmes and working with students with additional needs, BIG Alliance and Inspire! created a set of resources and training materials, and supported mentors and students throughout the duration of the programme.
The programme aims to:
- develop students’ confidence, communication skills & independence
- increase students’ knowledge of the workplace and their work-related skills
- raise students’ aspirations and improve their engagement
The supportive, healthy relationships formed between mentors and mentees contribute to a host of benefits for mentors and mentees. For example, one mentor said: “An incredible experience. Making an impact and even the smallest change on someone’s life, helping the kids develop their communication skills, and showing empathy brings pure joy and meaning to your own life”. Also, feedback from mentees suggested positive influences of mentoring on their self-esteem, resilience and interpersonal relationships.
Further, we asked the Deputy Head at Samuel Rhodes about the impact she has seen on pupils who take part in the mentoring programme this year and she feels that “our pupils benefit massively from the mentoring for their mental health and well-being”. She outlined the following benefits among others:
- Pupils are developing their communication skills, which enables them to express themselves more confidently in school and environments outside of school.
- The students are able to understand themselves better and have the time to think about themselves and what they are good at. Some pupils are linking this to careers which is making the thought of transition less scary.
- Mentoring is fun! This is always good for your well-being! Every Wednesday when I see the pupils they are happily talking about tea and hot chocolate, I have noticed they seem more verbal around the school and breaks and lunch times as well.
- They are being given the opportunity to explore a range of jobs away from the school environment
- They are completing travel training and therefore feeling more independent
- Meeting new people can be tough for everyone, especially if you have an additional need or Autism where you find it hard to read facial expressions or social situations. Going to Euromonitor and meeting new people helps our pupils to become more resilient.
- There are massive benefits of learning outside of the school, especially as things have been so restricted throughout Covid.
- Developing social skills
… and the list can continue.
BIG Alliance is so proud to be part of this transformational journey for these incredible young people and their mentors. We look forward to the Celebration event on 5th of July.