In the charity sector, mentoring is rapidly gaining popularity. The peer-to-peer support and advice provides unparalleled benefits for the beneficiaries of the charities, and is increasingly seen as a valuable asset for the charities themselves too. Mentoring programmes can be part of the overall service a charity offers, or in some cases the sole operational model.

Mentoring traditionally belongs to the jargon of the corporate world and usually refers to help with career progression. In today’s charity sector however, it is equally applicable to befriending services for the elderly or to youth work, where volunteer youth workers help with the personal development of young people by offering them one-on-one support. conducted a big charity survey in May 2018, from which we learned that only 10% of the charities that work with companies are receiving mentorship support, but over 45% of the charities would need this. This gap could easily be bridged if companies were to promote available mentoring opportunities to their staff.

Mentoring is all about connecting and sharing. It provides a great opportunity for any individual not only to make a difference within their communities, but also to ‘benefit’ themselves. In the best-case scenario, both mentors and mentees can experience the joyful sensation of Helper´s High.

We interviewed three charities about different kinds about mentoring and how it works for them and for the mentors helping them.

Charity: HERA

What does your charity do?

HERA (Her Equality Rights and Autonomy) mobilizes business and academic expertise, creativity, and resources to prevent and redress the £115 billion/annum business of human trafficking and re-trafficking. HERA helps women survivors of trafficking, conflict, and other forms of violence and young women vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation pursue their aspirations and ambitions for a better life. Since our creation in 2005, we trained over 500 women and helped create more than 200 jobs accross Europe.

What role does mentoring play in your work?

Mentoring is the backbone of our programmes. Each of our students, after successfully completing a three weeks training, is paired for a year with a business mentor that we have recruited and trained. These relationships allow our students to learn and grow from the experience of their mentor, and helps them get into a professional mindset, crucial for their integration in UK’s society.

Benefits of mentoring?

For the mentee it is a once in a life time chance to work with someone willing to give their time and expertise to see them thrive in their field. For the mentor it is a unique opportunity to work with someone who will constantly surprise you with their resilience and approach, and to help them achieve their goals through your advice and support. Of course, not all relationships are easy and some take time from each side to acclimate to this new situation.

What requirements do you have for individual/company volunteers?

When being recruited, each candidate needs to pass an interview with a member from our team and a DBS check. We require from our mentors to come to the training (dates fixed and given during recruitment) where they are prepared for the specific nature of this mentoring. For the rest of the year, the ideal meeting rate is once to twice a month – either in person or over the phone. HERA organises in parallel monthly events (2h on a Wednesday evening) to which both mentors and mentees are welcome.


Charity: Reach Out

What does your charity do?

ReachOut is a mentoring charity partnering with schools who serve disadvantaged communities across London, Manchester and Oldham and expanding to Liverpool in January 2019. We work with young people to help them to achieve their potential by connecting them with volunteer mentors, who act as role models, from the local and business communities.

What role does mentoring play at ReachOut?

Our young people work with the same mentor each week and build a meaningful relationship that allows them to reflect on success, learn from mistakes, overcome barriers and set SMART goals over the academic year. Both mentors and mentees are taken on a character journey throughout the programme to develop their character strengths and improve their skills.

What are the benefits of mentoring?

More than 99% of ReachOut mentees go onto education, training or employment after leaving school. Since 2011, 69% of our mentees, who were eligible for free school meals, achieved 5 A*-C grades at GCSE including Maths and English compared with the national average of 34%. In 2017/18, 100% of mentors enjoyed mentoring for ReachOut, 69% felt it has improved their ability to motivate others, and 60% said it had helped them to improve their communication skills.

Here is a testimonial of a mentor, which shows the benefits being mutual between the mentor and the mentee:

I’ve met some great people and formed friendships that I wouldn’t have ordinarily. Working with the mentees has been really interesting, hearing about what they find challenging and what they enjoy.” – Jamie Pratt, ReachOut mentor.

What are the requirements for individual/company volunteers?

We offer volunteering as little as one hour per week to truly make a difference to a young person’s life.

Volunteers will need to complete a short application form on our website We will then be in touch with the next steps to complete a DBS check and attend a one-off training session and then

Charity: Inspire!

What does your charity do?

Inspire! is an education charity working in Hackney, Camden, Islington and surrounding areas of London. By working in partnership with businesses, schools and colleges, we inspire, support and open doors for young people. We aim to increase access to the world of work, raise achievement levels and improve young people’s future prospects.

Our programmes include work experience, work-related learning and enterprise education, as well as one-to-one support for young people with additional needs. This includes those with special educational needs, who are NEET (not in education, employment or training), or who are struggling to meet their potential at school.

What role does mentoring play in your work?

Inspire! run mentoring programmes involving business volunteers at both primary and secondary schools. These programmes aim to build pupils’ motivation and confidence, as well as provide adult role models. Current programmes include:

Primary Mentoring: Primary mentoring involves employee volunteers visiting schools weekly to support literacy and numeracy skills. Inspire! broker a partnership between a company and local school. Employee mentors help individual pupils practice reading and comprehension, or play games to develop mental maths skills.

Challenge Mentoring: an intervention programme for pupils in Year 7 or 8 who are struggling to adjust to life in secondary school. Inspire! pairs schools with a business partner who hosts the programme at their workplace and provides volunteer mentors. Students are supported to identify a skill/skills they need to develop, and are coached through a transformative 12 week programme of one-to-one mentoring, personalised weekly targets, skills workshops and the completion of a personal challenge.

Benefits of mentoring?

Our mentoring programmes build children’s social skills, while enabling them to build a positive relationship with an adult role model. Mentees are encouraged to move out of their comfort zone, try new things and engage fully in their education. By connecting schools with businesses, pupils are also given an early insight into the world of work.

For employers, taking part in mentoring is great for employee’s development and job satisfaction. Volunteers can gain experience of mentoring others and communicating with young people. They are also given the chance to make a direct impact on a young person’s life, while taking a break from the office!

What requirements do you have for individual/company volunteers?

Inspire! match businesses to schools, train volunteers, and provide resources and ongoing support to both parties. No experience with young people is required, just plenty of enthusiasm! On Primary Mentoring, volunteers give up one lunchtime either weekly or fortnightly (30 minutes reading plus travel to and from the school). For Challenge Mentoring, volunteers are required to commit to one term of weekly, 45-minute mentoring sessions in their place of work.