aspire higher programme 2023 attendees

Empowering Young Minds: The Aspire Higher Mentoring Programme journey review

“Thanks for being there for me when I needed it the most and I don’t think I could have been where I am today without the support you’ve shown me.”

The Aspire Higher mentoring programme came to an end in June, so it is time to look back and celebrate its journey and achievements.

The programme, delivered in partnership with Groundwork, took flight in May 2021, thanks to the funding provided by the European Social Fund, the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority.

With the support of dedicated mentors, Melissa, Faye, Afifah and Nadia and their project manager Mei-lee, the Aspire Higher programme spanned over several months and left a lasting impact on the lives of 122 young people aged 15 to 18 across 8 provisions in the boroughs of Croydon, Southwark and Lambeth.

“Thanks for being that cool person I could chat/complain to – it made all the difference. We all appreciate you loads!”

Who the Aspire Higher programme helped

To ensure that the programme targeted those who would benefit the most from the guidance and support offered by experienced mentors, teachers in local schools played a crucial role in identifying and referring students who exhibited vulnerability, susceptibility to peer influence, and difficulties in emotional regulation.

Upon acceptance into the programme, the young participants embarked on a transformative journey, receiving weekly mentoring sessions within their schools.

Over a period of 6 to 18 months, these sessions provided a safe and supportive environment for the participants to explore their aspirations, address emotional challenges, and cultivate valuable life skills.

By dedicating 1:1 time to each young individual, the programme fostered meaningful relationships and trust between mentors and mentees, establishing a solid foundation for growth and development.

Activities included tailored support and guidance as well as trips aimed at promoting a sense of belonging, self-worth, and optimism in the young individuals, encouraging them to overcome challenges, dream big and pursue their goals. The inclusion of Choice Theory as the underlying philosophy enhanced the programme’s effectiveness, empowering the mentees to make positive choices and take control of their lives.

The primary objectives of the Aspire Higher mentoring programme were twofold: to raise aspirations and enhance overall well-being among the participants, and to equip them with the necessary skills and guidance to navigate their post-16 education, training, or employment pathways. By targeting vulnerable youth, the programme sought to empower them with resilience, confidence, and a sense of purpose, enabling them to overcome obstacles and build promising futures.

“Thank you so much for the sessions it’s helped me a lot in school and in general it’s definitely improved my GCSEs and I really appreciate it”

Exceptional Results and Recognition

The dedication and passion of our mentors throughout the programme led to extremely positive outcomes. The unwavering support and guidance provided by the mentors allowed the young individuals to make informed decisions about their future, fostering a positive transition into post-16 education, training, or employment opportunities in 73% of the mentees. Participants experienced a significant boost in their aspirations and well-being, showcasing the programme’s effectiveness in nurturing their personal and academic growth.

The success of the Aspire Higher team was acknowledged through additional funding, received twice during its duration. Moreover, the resounding positive feedback received from the schools, families, and most importantly, the young people themselves, served as a testament to the programme’s impact.

“Having someone such as Melissa come in and work with our young people has been a breath of fresh air, The relationships built to support the mentoring programme were exemplary. All our pupils had positive things to say – I wish every child could have mentoring!”

What comes next?

The team will now keep supporting our pupils attending The Write Time school and, seeing the overwhelming impact and feedback, we will work to keep supporting young people across the community and provide mentoring services across schools. If you are interested and would like to know more, you can contact Melissa, our lead ODT, at 07903 689 638.

In summary, the conclusion of the Aspire Higher mentoring programme marked the end of a truly transformative chapter in the lives of 122 young individuals. Thanks to the funding from the European Social Funds, the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority, these vulnerable youth were given the opportunity to raise their aspirations, enhance their emotional well-being, and pursue positive post-16 education, training, or employment opportunities. The exceptional outcomes, additional funding, and overwhelmingly positive feedback received throughout the programme are a testament to the life-changing impact of mentoring.

“You have helped him so much. He can now talk to his brother and his girlfriend whereas before he would run away and hardly say anything to his brother. It’s so lovely to see. Thank you”

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