Sussex students benefit from mentoring scheme

Students from BACA discussing hopes and aspirations for the future
Students from BACA discussing hopes and aspirations for the future

Students from eight secondary schools took part in a one-day conference aiming to inspire young people to think about their careers.

Around 50 Year Ten students visited the American Express Community Stadium this week (May 2), as part of the Be the Change programme.

Students from PACA, Hove Park, Blatchington Mill with Business Mentor Christina Edscer from LovelLocalJobs

Students from PACA, Hove Park, Blatchington Mill with Business Mentor Christina Edscer from LovelLocalJobs

Launched last year, Be the Change is a collaboration between LoveLocalJobs.com and Graham Moore of social business humanutopia.

The programme focuses on raising the confidence, aspirations and job prospects of 13 and 14 year olds. Throughout the 2016 school year, students participated in five days of activities and a workplace visit, designed to change negative behaviour, improve happiness, confidence, hope, relationships and employability.

Schools taking part were: Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA); Blatchington Mill, Hove; Dorothy Stringer, Brighton; Hove Park School; Longhill, High School, Brighton; Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA); Sir Robert Woodard Academy, Lancing; and Bourne Community College, West Sussex.

The Catch Up and Inspire conference, run by former teacher Graham Moore and delivered by the Be the Change Team, gave students and local business mentors who took part in the initiative last year, the chance to reconnect and discuss progress made. Mentors participated from local organisations including University of Sussex, Brighton and Hove City Council, Brighton and Hove PR and LoveLocalJobs.com.

Sarah Williams, director of Sussex Learning Network which supports the scheme, said: “Be the Change is a really innovative way to inspire and support disengaged or disadvantaged young people. Feedback received from students and teachers has told us that for many students the experience has been life changing. We are proud to be supporting an initiative that encourages young people from across Sussex to be the best they can be and to make the most of future opportunities.”

Over the course of the day, areas covered included:

- ‘What is it like to be a teenager in 2017?’ a conversation about what might be holding them back and how it affects them

- Interactive team challenges using workplace and life skills such as prioritisation, working to deadlines and honing creativity and spontaneity

- Creating a ‘roadmap’ to success – an exploration of four key areas in their life: Personal, Social, Family and School, helping students draw up a tangible set of goals and targets for their short and mid-term future

Rosanna Farrar, Be the Change project director and head of community engagement at LoveLocalJobs.com, said: “Catching up with the students again really gave them a chance to reflect on their lives and some of the most common problems and barriers they face on a day to day basis. Reconnecting with some of their business mentors from last year also really helped them to renew their motivations to make positive changes and aim high in life. Their honesty and courage was once again really powerful to see and we believe they are now even clearer about what they want to achieve in the future.”

Liz Clarke, behaviour and progress officer at PACA, said: “The students were so excited when I told them we would be going to the Be the Change catch up day. Every single one of the students has made positive changes in their lives since starting the programme. Today they have all made me so proud – by their participation and willingness to share their stories – this is just what they needed as a boost and to help them move forward positively into Year 11.”