A positive role model
Nine-year-old Ben* from Islington was in trouble at school due to a pattern of angry outbursts; he would swear, fight and damage property. School had concerns about his emotional and social well-being and made a referral to Chance UK, the Islington-based charity supporting children experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties.
Established in 1995, Chance UK has seen almost 2,000 children referred to their early-intervention programme. These children are at risk of educational exclusion, anti-social and/or criminal behaviour in adolescence. Through a one-year mentoring programme, they are empowered to develop their skills, confidence and life aspirations. Every one of Chance UK’s mentors is an adult volunteer, who commits to mentoring one child for a whole year.
Chance UK’s team matched Ben with Andy, a positive role model who was a great listener, non-judgemental and consistent. Ben and Andy shared similar interests, particularly a love of sport. On their weekly mentoring sessions, they enjoyed various activities including playing frisbee, visiting football clubs and having craft sessions in Finsbury Park.
Chance UK set three goals for Ben: to produce six museum reviews (encouraging creativity and independent thought), to manage the mentoring budget (promoting numeracy and appreciation of money) and to build a Meccano robotic arm with Andy (working on teamwork and interaction). Chance UK worked with the school and other services to ensure that the family’s needs were met and that Ben’s successes were shared. With this collaborative support, Ben met all of his goals.
On sessions, Ben proved that he could be committed, focused, empathetic and a good team-player. He successfully completed the mentoring year better equipped to move on and more effectively deal with challenges. School reported a vast improvement in Ben’s behaviour, particularly in the way he interacted with peers and adults.
Ben and Andy graduated from the mentoring programme in front of their very proud families. Asked how he would describe a mentor, Ben said: “someone who guides you”. He said that Andy encouraged him to have confidence in himself and to respect others more: “I’ve improved how I speak to people, and my behaviour at school is better.”
Chance UK is looking for volunteers to mentor children in Islington. If you’re a positive role model and would like to make a genuine difference, visit www.chanceuk.com/become-a-mentor or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.