Could you provide the spark that inspires a lifetime of ambition?

Could you provide the spark that inspires a lifetime of ambition?


Ned* is 15 and in year 10. Next year he will be taking his all-important GCSE's. He is one of 8 children. He's a bright student and has the potential to go on to benefit from a higher education. But Ned comes from the large traveller community that has made its home in Cambridgeshire. He has a tight-knit family, with a very strict father, who will occasionally use force to enforce the many rules that he has put in place to control his large family. Ned's father left school at 14 and does not rank the need for a formal education as a high priority for Ned, so he does not mind too much when Ned chooses to bunk off school to help his father and brothers with the family scrap metal business.


Darren is 41. He is a Partner at Grant Thornton in Cambridge. He has spent 18 years advising business owners and large corporates how to manage their businesses. He leads a team of 30 highly skilled and motivated professionals who work on multi-million pound deals. Darren also mentors students like Ned- through Form the Future's mentoring programme.


'Mentoring the Disengaged' is a programme run by Form the Future to help address the massive wealth disparity which exists within Cambridgeshire. According to the latest "Centre for Cities" report of 69 cities, Cambridge has the highest deprivation Gini coefficient (0.46) in the country- showing a greater gap between rich and poor than even London (0.44). The brilliance of this scheme is that it brings together the fortunate and the less-fortunate in order to address this imbalance and narrow this polarization.


Watch this short video for Darren's views on the scheme:


Purpose and aims of the project:

The aim of the project is to support disengaged and vulnerable students by providing them with inspiring and supportive mentors who have real-world experience. You offer emotional and practical advice and support. You do not have to be a high-flying executive like Darren, in fact some of our best mentors are business and trades people who are working to over-come financial and life challenges themselves. It's not about the size of your brain, but the size of your heart.


The purpose of the project is to support students at risk of under-achieving and support them to take their next steps into a career or further education by building resilience, engagement and motivation through positive sustained relationships with trusted, sympathetic adults who act as positive role models. The outcomes we gain are: higher attendance rates, improved academic performance, increased awareness of career progression routes, greater confidence to pursue challenging goals, higher levels of engagement with learning. One small spark of inspiration coming from someone like you can ignite a lifetime of ambition.


How does it work?

Students are matched with mentors from local businesses according to interests and skills. Mentors volunteer their time and travel costs. Form the Future recruits the mentors, conducts enhanced DBS checks, provides 5 hours of training from a professional development agency, administers a programme of monthly face to face mentoring sessions and provides regular support plus the odd webinar and social event. The mentoring focuses on identifying strengths, nurturing confidence and goal setting. We conduct regular reviews to track progress, measure impact and help if needed. Whilst the main beneficiaries of the scheme are the students, the volunteers speak passionately about how positive they feel about making a difference to a young person's life chances and giving something back to their community. How you would feel if you were to help turn a young person's life around?


Does it work? What difference does it make?.....Outcomes and impact

The benefits of well-implemented mentoring are well documented. According to the National Mentoring Partnership study, 'The Mentoring effect', compared to their non-mentored peers, in terms of background and academic level:

-          Mentees are 55% more likely to enroll in college

-          Mentees are 78% more likely to volunteer themselves

-          Mentees are 52% less likely to skip school


According to the 2016 'Effective Mentoring' report, "Evidence suggests that good, well-managed mentoring can have a significant and observable positive impact on behavior, attainment and progression."


Outcomes from our pilot scheme (via pre and post interviews with the mentees):

- 95% of mentees found it helpful in terms of improving self-esteem and levels of engagement;

- 84% would recommend mentoring to other students;

- 100% of teachers reported that they saw a change for the better in the students.


For the 2016/ 17 academic year outcomes will also be measured using school data on attendance and attainment with pre and post data compared.


Students are incredibly impressionable at the vulnerable ages of 15 and 16. A word of encouragement, a piece of advice, an epiphany that someone actually believes in them- these can make a life-time's difference. Research has shown that unemployment and low employment aspirations can be a family trait. We aim to break this spiral of low self-esteem, low aspirations and low achievement. If only 10% of our mentees are inspired to achieve, rather than under-achieve, that could mean 40 Cambridge teens in work, as opposed to on benefits. Click on Levi's video to gain an insight into the benefits gained from mentee and mentor alike:


Could that mentor be you or a member of your staff?


We need inspiring employed or self-employed men and women to step up and provide 1:1 support for these vulnerable and impressionable young people.


Imagine how you would feel building a strong, trusting relationship with a young person that you know will make a very real difference to their life.


A business mentor is in a privileged position. You act as an advocate for your mentee, working alongside the teaching faculty: helping your mentee understand their motivations and interests; firing ambitions; helping them set targets and providing suggestions on how to achieve them; exploring possible career options and the different routes that might be taken to secure them. You may also help them develop the skills they need to land that all-important first job: interview skills, support with CV writing and advice on how to secure work experience.


Delivery model

Our role as the professional mentoring organization is to set up the relationships between the school and the mentors and make sure that the programme is well supported and managed.

  • September - December: You will provide a profile that will allow us to match you with the most appropriate student (matching criteria such as geography, shared interests and skills). You will then receive 5 hours of professional training to equip you with the skills you need to engage with young people, safeguarding issues and how to deal with any challenges that might arise. You will also be DBS checked.
  • Jan- July: You will spend up to 1 hour a month in school with your mentee. Form the Future facilitates all meetings. You will not have any contact with your mentee outside of school hours.
  • Our experience is that if you speak to your HR Department, you will usually be allowed paid time off work to provide corporate volunteering of this nature.
  • Cambridgeshire Police have been our partner in designing our mentoring programme. You will give a great deal, but you will also gain a great deal in terms of personal development and especially the tremendous feeling of 'giving something back' to the community in which you live.


END OF AUGUST DEADLINE: Please contact to register your interest or call Sean Callow on 01223 781296 to discuss it in more detail.