‘I want to help and inspire others’: Lancashire’s educational mentorship scheme is changing children’s lives
“I hadn’t really thought about my future before the mentorship program,” says Jahnaya, 18, from Skelmersdale. “I was just planning to go straight to work as soon as possible; I was teaching dance but never saw it as a career and I would have laughed if you had told me I could go to college back then.
An invaluable mentorship program that works across Lancashire to encourage more people to consider higher education, FutureU offers advice on learning, university and student finance, particularly within communities and families whose young people are less likely to consider further education.
Since 2017, FutureU has hosted more than 1,100 career sessions at 70 schools and colleges across the county, while creating a range of educational and career resources for wider use. Part of the national Uni Connect program and funded by the Student Office, the program is already paying dividends.
“As the mentoring sessions progressed, I started to realize that I could be successful in what I wanted to do,” says Jahnaya, who went on to study sport, fitness and personal training at West Lancashire College. “I decided that working towards becoming a physical education teacher would allow me to help people and inspire others.”
Now with a conditional offer to study Sport and Physical Education at Edge Hill University in September, Jahnaya also hopes to become a FutureU Mentor herself to encourage others to follow in her footsteps and gain insights. valuable insights into how pathways to continuing education can be opened up. countless new opportunities.
After embracing FutureU’s career advice program at Up Holland Secondary School during an eight-week course of team building activities, future mapping and career insights, Jahnaya emerged with a heightened sense of concentration. For the first time, she was able
envision a future career and the steps she should take towards her dream role.
“I’ve mentored young people before,” says Jahnaya. “Friends from my school keep in touch with me as a mentor – some have recently called me to tell me about their mock exam results. Mentoring has developed me as a person and, as I see the best of every child, I want to bring it out in other young people who are unsure of their next steps.
Oliver Norris, who is the Senior Outreach Officer at FutureU, is unequivocal in his praise for Jahnaya and the progress she has made over the past few years.
“Jahnaya’s story should be an inspiration to any youngster who is unsure of what they want to do with their future,” he said. “[She] will be a fantastic mentor and I’m sure she will inspire many more.
“Every youngster has a passion that could lead to a future career or qualification,” adds Oliver. “Our mentoring program [gives] young people important advice on the next steps.