Katie Porter by Katie Porter |

Last year, B&CE employees were asked to become mentors in the Dare to Dream programme, which aimed to challenge young people to change the way they think about their futures.

In partnership with leading local employers, the scheme was set up by the LoveLocalJobs Foundation so that mentors could encourage young people to achieve their potential and dare to dream big.

Alex Duell – Head of Customer Support Hub, Denim Bachelor – Internal Auditor, and me, Katie Porter – Senior Social Media Officer, volunteered our time to become mentors on the Dare to Dream programme.

Mentors and mentees on the programme.
Mentees at a desk.
Mentors and mentees watch a presentation.

The set-up of the programme

The programme aimed to focus on self-awareness, mindset, gratitude, resilience, and employability, while encouraging students to identify their personal barriers to success, before helping them find ways of overcoming them.

A group of 15 students at Gatwick School were selected to participate in the programme, each with huge potential but needing some encouragement to dare to dream and focus on their education.

Since October, Alex, Denim, and I met with the students in three events run by Dare to Dream. The chosen students got the chance to meet their allocated mentor to have one-to-one sessions, where we would discuss the career aspirations of the students, what skills they felt strong in and what areas needed a little more work. The one-to-one sessions really gave us mentors the chance to get to know each student and help develop their personal plans.

To finish the year’s events, the students visited B&CE’s Manor Royal offices and this experience showed the students many aspects of the business and gave them an insight into life at the workplace. The day consisted of considering what would be important to the students when looking to join a company, receiving a presentation on what makes a good and bad CV and how to prepare for an interview. There was also a Q&A session with our CEO, Patrick Heath-Lay, and the young people met some of our senior leaders.

The students were able to gain an insight into what work we do at B&CE and see first-hand the outcome of dedication and hard work.

Lessons learnt

There have been so many lessons learnt from participating in this programme. As a mentor, you not only get to see a real change in the student’s mindset and attitude toward their future, but you also get to learn a lot about yourself as a person.

Reflecting back on the programme, Alex Duell, said:

“I’ve really found it rewarding talking to the students and having these mentoring sessions. It has been particularly great to see the change in the student’s mindset around the things that are important to employers.”

My own view is that being a mentor has been a really rewarding experience, and the best part of it for me is seeing how the students have grown and developed each time that we meet. They have really come out of their shells and they have grown in confidence.

Encouraging others to participate

I speak on behalf of all the B&CE mentors involved in this year’s programme when I say the scheme is an incredible opportunity to be a part of. Taking time out to give back to the local community is very rewarding, and hopefully, we have each had an impact on our students’ lives and the choices they make going forward. If there is another opportunity for employees of B&CE to be involved in a Dare to Dream programme, I would recommend this without hesitation.

Read more about the Dare to Dream programme on the LoveLocalJobs Foundation website.