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Making an Impact

Impact Mentoring is an innovative mentoring project designed to inspire young people to refocus their energy towards something meaningful, developing their aspirations in education and personal development. This month, we put the award-winning Bristol-based charitable scheme in the spotlight…

As we reach the two-year mark of the initial wave of pandemic-induced school shutdowns, academic normalcy remains out of reach for many students, teachers and parents. The cumulative impact of the pandemic on students’ academic achievements has undoubtedly been significant and it is likely to have a long-lasting impact on young people’s mental health and the school services that support them. With this in mind, we take a closer look at Impact Mentoring, an award-winning Bristol-based charitable scheme that works with children and young adults across the South West with varying levels of need.

Based in Kingswood, Impact works tirelessly to facilitate positive and structured mentoring and learning activities that support young people to progress with all the skills needed in life. The team believe that through effective relationships with adults, young people can reach their potential whatever their starting point. Impact provides a safe space that can support the transition back into the more structure settings of education, college or training.

Set up in 2014 by Wayne Cockram (above right) – a former soldier and personal trainer who was shocked by the lack of support for vulnerable young people – Impact has supported thousands of local teenagers who have either fallen out of full-time education altogether or just need a little extra guidance during their schooling years.

Speaking about how Impact first came about, Wayne said: “It wasn’t until I spent time in Sierra Leone as a young solider that I really got to see just how lucky I was. It really opened my eyes to how some young people are not given the same opportunities as others and in some cases were really suffering. Two years later I left the army and trained as a personal trainer and sports coach. Within a few months, I had a thriving business working in local schools, clubs and doing personal training. I loved coaching young people, but I was always aware that some young people were not being given an opportunity to succeed.”

After encountering a number of pupils that were struggling, Wayne worked with South Gloucestershire council and its schools to set up provisions to help young people through difficult situations. A great success, Wayne went on to work at the council for over ten years, running projects that gained national attention and improving the literacy and numeracy of hundreds of young people. Frustrated by the constant budget constraints that kept hindering projects, however, leaving vulnerable children without support, Wayne founded Impact.

Three years after its inception, the former soldier was recognised at the Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards as an Entrepreneur for Good and his new company, Impact, won the Social Care Awards Best Youth Mentoring Project.

Having evolved enormously over the last eight years, now boasting a 70-strong team of mentors working across six local authorities including Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire North, Somerset, Bath and Wiltshire, Impact’s support ranges from a six-week programme of tailored help to three years’ support for the most vulnerable adolescents. In addition, it offers a range of learning programmes and tutoring opportunities. The team are always on the look-out for new ways to reach those in need, driven by the desire to help young people thrive both inside and outside of the classroom, helping them to reflect on their situations and refresh themselves in an environment where they feel nurtured and safe.

Some of the services that Impact offers are:

One-to-one mentoring
At Impact, the team know that trust is central to self-belief and progress. This means that they promote one-to-one mentoring as a foundation to positive change. The mentors – who have a diverse set of qualifications and experiences – are chosen for their passion to help young people develop their inter-personal skills. One-to-one mentoring can be transformational and gives young people a listening ear, access to support, guidance and wisdom while enjoying themselves. According to Impact, this service is their prescription to aspiration.

Learning programmes
Impact’s learning programmes involve improving young people’s confidence, helping them to complete challenges along the way. The team offers a number of pre-vocational courses.

Tutoring
Impact’s tutoring team support the development of English and Maths skills and re-engage students in their learning. This can be through bespoke project-based work using functional skills or using the materials and platforms provided by a commissioning partner. The company’s tutors can also provide an appropriate learning environment with flexibility and real-world experiences. Tutoring is often included alongside mentoring in a support package.

Post-16 provision
Many young adults may not be ready to take the leap towards a college course, vocational training or employment. Therefore, Impact builds packages to build confidence and resilience for post-16 students. The nurturing environment of the teams’ headquarters, plus tutoring and learning programmes, can be a solid-stepping stone for many. Impact also signposts and networks to help find additional opportunities for work and volunteering experiences to enrich their work.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Impact Mentoring or would like to start your journey with Impact today, visit: impactmentoring.co.uk

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