From education to employment

Mentor programme boosts leadership skills for experienced care workers

In a first for the care sector, at the beginning of 2019 two charitable foundations formed a partnership to promote careers within the care sector and help care leavers fulfil their potential. At the end of the first year of the programme, some of those who took part look back at the difference it made.

Formed in partnership between the CareTech Foundation and EY Foundation, a charity that supports young people overcome barriers to getting into work, the programme gives young people intensive employability skills training and quality paid work experience in care. Over the course of the programme, the young participants have gained an understanding of what care work is and how rewarding it can be, developing their aspirations to pursue long-term careers in the sector.

Professionals working in the care sector were matched up with each of the young people to act as their mentors, helping them grow skills in the sector. The programme helps young people transition successfully from school into work in the care sector or into further education.

It has also helped to nurture development within the wider care sector. CareTech plc employees volunteer as mentors for the programme participants, guided by EY Foundation expertise and support, to develop their leadership skills.

Jodie McNally, Head of Young People Services at the EY Foundation said:

“Mentoring can be a really powerful way to give young people the support they need. They provide an important sounding board – one that they may not be able to access anywhere else – at a time in their life when they are making key decisions about their future. Knowing that someone has given up their time to assist and guide them can be a life changing experience for a young person.”

Jonathan Freeman, CEO of the CareTech Foundation, said:

“As our population ages and the demand for care grows, the need to recruit and retain more high-quality carers is only going to grow. Our partnership with the EY Foundation is already seeing real success in promoting careers in care.”

Two of the mentors who took part in the programme reflect on how it has affected them:

Julie, Mentor and Locality Manager, CareTech plc Potters Bar

“As a Locality Manager, I have responsibility for ten residential and day centres, but I’ve never been a mentor before. When I was put forward by my line manager to take part in the scheme I was honoured but also apprehensive. Fortunately, all the mentors were given a lot of support and had training to help us in our roles. There was great communication between us and the team of experts at the EY Foundation, so that we always knew there was someone on the end of a phone if we had questions.

“Before I first met the student I was to be mentoring, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I was aware that most of the young people had faced challenging childhoods but didn’t know anything beyond that. As soon as I met Mitchelle though I wasn’t apprehensive at all. She is a really bright and enthusiastic young woman, and I was delighted to be her mentor. She is bubbly and just really eager to learn and that made the whole process much easier and incredibly enjoyable.

“When she went to her first placement, I know Mitchelle was nervous. She hadn’t met people with such severe learning or physical difficulties before, and she found it hard to begin with. With encouragement though she really quickly overcame these concerns and had an incredibly positive impact at the home.

“As a mentor, it was wonderful to witness Mitchelle grow and become more confident. Throughout the programme she has gained skills that will benefit her in the long term. It was also excellent to be part of the whole experience, witnessing these young people develop as they really came into their own.

“Being a mentor reminded me about why I got into care in the first place. It was fantastic to be able to pass on my passion for the sector, and to see that grow in others.”

Lucy, Mentor and Senior Estates Administrator, CareTech Community services

“I mentored a young woman who was not sure of herself to begin with, but her confidence grew every day. Now even the way she walks through the building is more confident!

“I supported her growth by meeting her every couple of weeks and helping her to set goals to work towards. During the meetings we had the chance to talk about things that the she might be finding difficult. I think the fact that this was a mentoring, rather than a managerial, relationship meant that she could be more honest. She told me she had never had support of this nature before.

“The mentoring experience was mutually beneficial, as it gave me time to reflect on my own career and to think about setting goals for myself too. I also feel the business benefited from the programme, as a cohort of young people who had expressed an interest in the industry were brought right into the heart of the business. I believe my mentee may well pursue a career in the care sector in the future.

“I would really recommend the programme to others – it’s a really rewarding experience for the mentors and the mentees.”

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