Someone to believe in you, someone to trust: How mentoring changes lives

Following the launch of the Hospital Navigator programme at the Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust last week, we asked Tim Blake, Project Director at Starting Point, to guest-author a blog on the value of mentoring support.

“I definitely believe if I had met my mentor at an earlier age I would have had a greater chance of being a success without going to prison.” – Gary, a young person working with Starting Point

What would the lives of young people who face disadvantage look like if they had someone who believed in them, who they could talk to and who they could trust?

At Starting Point, we are passionate about seeing transformation in the lives of local young people, aged between 11 and 25, who face disadvantage and believe that every young person, regardless of their upbringing and life experiences, should be able to access opportunities within their local community and have their voices heard. We do this by providing long-term mentoring, with no time limit, which is focused on the young person and their needs. We are committed to not only providing support in that moment of crisis but to offer long term support through relational, tailored and holistic mentoring within their community which, over time, will enable and facilitate sustained positive change.

Tim Blake and Sam Lloyd of Starting Point, in their Hospital Navigator uniforms at the Royal Berkshire Hospital

“If you ask 100 different people what mentoring is, you will probably get 100 different answers.” – Sam Lloyd, Starting Point’s Project Director

Mentoring can sometimes be over complicated, and as the above quote suggests, looks different for different people. At Starting Point, mentoring looks like meeting up with a young person, on a regular one to one basis, either at our Starting Point mentoring hub or at a local coffee shop or café. Through long-term mentoring, the mentor will become a trusted adult to the young person and will be able to offer practical and emotional support, dependant on what the young person is wanting to focus on and address.

Our mentors are local volunteers who mentor local young people and come from a vast variety of backgrounds and walks of life – a diverse pool of volunteers meeting a diverse need. We provide training and continued support to our mentors, drawing on the experiences and expertise of our staff members who combined, have a vast wealth of knowledge and experience working with young people.

“I never thought something like Starting Point could help me this much. My confidence was very low before I was mentored, but since mentoring it has grown a lot.” – Sophie, a young person who was mentored through Starting Point

Can it really be this simple? Our mentoring model may sound very simple but is extremely effective. We have seen how powerful mentoring can be and is why we continue to advocate the importance of mentoring, both for a mentor and a mentee.

We currently have over 100 volunteer mentors offering up their time with Starting Point. Over the past 18 months we have supported 125 young people who were NEET (not in education, employment, or training. Of those, 44% accessed employment, 26% accessed education and 50% accessed short term opportunities. Over the past 12 months we have also partnered with local schools and children social services to support 36 young people who are ‘at risk’ of exclusion or of becoming NEET upon leaving education. Of those, 75% transitioned into further education or employment and 90% were prevented from being excluded.

Reece is just one example of a young person that has worked with us here at Starting Point and through journeying with a mentor, has seen positive change which he has been able to sustain. To hear Reece’s story of how mentoring helped him, please click on this link to watch his video.

The Navigator programme is an initiative that equips local volunteer to provide a listening ear, a confidential conversation and to potentially offer support within the local community, to those aged 13-24 who may have been admitted in circumstances related to risk taking behaviours or who may be frequent attendees at A&E.

We officially launched the Navigator programme within the Royal Berkshire hospital in May of this year and have already seen the impact a conversation during a reachable moment and ongoing support can have on a young person’s journey. Having that listening ear and confidential conversation has already meant that we have been able to support people into accessing mentoring and support within the community to see sustained positive change. Without speaking to one of our Navigators, these young people may have not been able to communicate their thoughts, feelings and emotions and may not have been able to access the same support. We want to ensure that the Navigator programme is embedded in mentoring as we know and have seen

“I volunteer for Starting Point because I want to be able to help young people who are less fortunate than myself. Unemployment is a big issue and I wanted to be involved with a charity that are making positive steps towards solving it in my local community.” -Alex, a mentor currently volunteering with Starting Point

If anything you’ve read in this blog has raised questions regarding mentoring, or you would like to explore how to get involved with the Navigator programme or mentoring within Starting Point, please do get in contact with us by going to