Introduced in 2015, our mentoring scheme has since developed into a comprehensive programme encompassing bespoke training for professional mentors, continuous support for both mentors and mentees, and additional professional development opportunities for care-experienced young people. What began as a small pilot with only a handful of participants, is now an integral part of the Drive Forward approach to enable care-experienced youth in London to achieve their full potential through sustainable and fulfilling employment.
We asked one of our very first participants, Sally, about the benefits that she has experienced from building and maintaining a trusted and consistent mentoring relationship.
Why did you choose to get a mentor?
Growing up in care life was unstable and I had lots of foster placements which resulted in me leaving school early. As a consequence, I didn’t have long-lasting positive relationships or role models. When I first joined Drive Forward Foundation (DFF) I took part in a work experience programme where I met different professionals and went on various insight days. I learnt about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and found this was a career I wanted to go into. DFF matched me with a mentor in CSR, Marie Broad in 2015.
How did you think a mentor could be beneficial to you?
I was looking to learn more about CSR, build networks and develop my employability skills. I also wanted to have support in applying for roles in that area and to know where to start.
What was your experience of working with your mentor?
It’s been a great opportunity working with Marie over the last 6 years and to have someone who has been long-lasting in my life. When I left the care system, all professionals were dropped and I no longer had access to their support. It was great to come across DFF who were able to support me post leaving care and who introduced me to Marie. It’s good to have a relationship where there’s no timescale and they’re not paid to be in your life during office hours. Marie always celebrates special moments such as birthdays, starting a new job and Christmas etc.
What did you gain from mentoring? What’s the impact on your life?
During my time working with Marie, I have built my career and progressed up the CSR ladder. Having not completed my university degree I never thought it would be possible to get to where I am now. Growing up in the care system, the negative statistics were against me and many professionals predicted I would never succeed in life. I’ve managed to secure four jobs in prestigious organisations. Marie really supported me with updating my CV, doing job applications, preparing for interviews and dealing with challenges in the work place. She also recommended me to employers and wrote a few references. Marie and I attended lots of networking events together where I was able to make new professional connections. I am very thankful to Marie not giving up on me despite the challenges.