Friends of GT Scholars – Don’t miss our latest Volunteer Spotlight!

Friends of GT Scholars – Don’t miss our latest Volunteer Spotlight!

Friends of GT Scholars Volunteers

Can you believe it’s July already? This summer is looking very different. It turns out that most of us will be staying home and only 19% of us are considering booking a holiday – “Homecation” is the new “Staycation”! I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going to find a way to keep this summer bright and interesting! For now, here’s this week’s newsletter!

An enlightening Volunteer Spotlight to check out!
We’ve added another spotlight to the website. Jason has been a great addition to the volunteer team. He’s been volunteering as a mentor with GT Scholars for over 3 years! In this spotlight video interview, Jason shares more about his passion for helping young people and why he decided to volunteer. He also shares more about his experience on the programme and tips for increasing the overall impact of mentoring sessions. Click here to watch the full interview.

A huge thank you to Ford Britain Trust!
We’re really pleased to announce that we recently received funding from Ford Britain Trust to help more young people gain access to tech-related opportunities with us! Thanks to this funding, we’ll be able to provide more places for young people. This will particularly help with GirlMeetsCode as well as any other coding, technology, and entrepreneurial programmes or workshops that we host in the near future.

Virtual Roadshow – Can you arrange an introduction?
Speaking of companies, it’s almost time for our virtual roadshow. Thank you to the volunteers who’ve already connected us to their contacts at their companies. As part of the “Virtual Roadshow”, we’d like to meet with companies that are interested in helping young people to build their skills and access work. If you know someone at work or in your network that is responsible for CSR and you can help with setting up an introduction, please get in touch!

Have a terrific weekend!

Marilyn van Heerden

In The Know: Creative Competitions for young people

In The Know: Creative Competitions for young people

In The Know Parents What's new?

Young people need to be able to express themselves now more than ever – Especially right now with schools still closed. This week we’d like to tell you about a few creative competitions that you can share with your child. Here are a few great opportunities for young people to express themselves and stand a chance to win some great prizes!

Write on Art 2019-2020
Write on Art is hosting an  annual competition for young people aged between 15-18 to write about what matters to them. To enter, your child will need to pick one artwork featured on the Art UK website and write about it. The prize for 1st place is £500 and will have their essays featured on the Art UK and Paul Mellon Centre websites. The closing date is 31 July 2020 and there is no entry fee. You can enter by clicking here.

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020
This annual competition is open to any young person aged 11-17 and is a great opportunity to accelerate their writing career. Entry is free and the top 100 entries will receive some great prizes, from goodie bags to a year’s membership to The Poetry Society! The top 15 entries will get to choose between attending a week-long residential writing course at an Arvon Centre in either Devon, Shropshire, or Yorkshire or mentoring sessions from a professional poet. All poems must be entered by the 31 July 2020. To find out more click here!

Postcards from the Trafalgar Way
Trafalgar Way is hosting a competition for anyone aged 7 and up. To take part in the competition, young people must create an artwork based on a feature on the historic Trafalgar Way route. To enter all you need to do is take a stunning photograph or create a two-dimensional artwork of a scene along The Trafalgar Way. There are great prizes up for grabs, from £500 to The Peter Warwick Memorial Trophy!  Competition closes on the 1 September 2020. To enter click here.

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Volunteer Spotlight – I want young people to feel confident about the decisions they make in life

Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

At GT Scholars we have a great team of volunteer tutors and mentors that are passionate about helping young people learn, grow, and achieve their goals in life. We have regular spotlight interviews with our volunteers where they share a bit more about themselves and why they chose to volunteer. Here is a recent interview with one of our volunteer mentors – Jason

Tell me a bit more about yourself
My name is Jason & I am 37 years old, and my parents were refugees from the Vietnam War, so my heritage is Vietnamese, but I was born in London. I had a strict & traditional upbringing, and it was difficult for my parents to lift that culture within an environment that they were not familiar with.

I had to work through problems and difficulties in school and eventually went to university. Unfortunately, I dropped out of university because the course was not what I’d expected, and that was a defining moment for me where I had to make a big decision for myself without consulting with my family. Since then, I have had various jobs, and I now work for the NHS as a contract manager.

In my day to day life, I am married to a wonderful wife, I have a dog and work all the time, but work is like play for me! As part of my job, and also as an extracurricular activity, I am a mentor for adults, people at different levels, including people who are more senior than me within the NHS.

Why did you apply to GT Scholars?
I was tackling issues with people who were already at an older age and could not turn back the time, so I thought it would be quite useful to help young people and to make sure that they have more confidence in the future.

When I was an A level student, my family, friends, and I thought that I would be going to university, and also believed that I would get a degree. I dropped out of university, and it was a difficult decision to make, but I had to stand by that. Today I want to help young people to make the right decisions for them, and also be confident with the decisions they make.

What was the joining process like?
The process of joining GT Scholars was quite robust. As part of the process, a DBS check was done and also training for child protection and safeguarding.

Did you have any expectations when you started?
When I started, I didn’t have any expectations and approached it with an open mind. I would advise that a volunteer should go into it without any expectations, cause you won’t know what to expect and you can do your best with the situation given. I faced challenges along the way, but it was a positive experience to engage with both the mentee and also the parents. What you tend to find is that parents want their child to be mentored or tutored, and the challenge is to start getting the young person engaged and open to receive the support.

Did you experience any challenges?
I’ve worked with a few mentees, and sometimes it can be a bit challenging, mainly because they don’t understand why they are there. You can support and help them through that, to understand the benefits of having a mentor or tutor. Other times the mentee can be very receptive and engaging, which makes the process easier.

A challenge that I can improve on is getting the mentee more engaged. As time goes by, the mentee might be thinking that you are just repeating the same old advice, so you have to keep it interesting. It is important to stay connected in between your sessions. When I’ve had any problems whatsoever, GT Scholars would be one phone call away, and they’re very responsive.

What was your most recent mentee like?
My first meeting with Daniel and his mum was very positive and interesting. They came to my office, and we sat down for a couple of hours and could have gone on for longer, but we had to go home. What stood out the most for me, was Daniel’s relationship with his mum and the way they engaged with me together. I knew from then that this was someone that I could genuinely help and guide.

What was your mentoring experience with Daniel like?
We worked around certain themes, one of them being for Daniel to be more confident with himself and trying to be more confident with the decisions he makes. We also talked about his independence, being less reliant on other people, and getting ready for adulthood. One of Daniel’s qualities that stood out was that he was very interested in what I had to say. When I gave him advice or talked through situations, what I said seemed to resonate with him, and he was able to take it away and then continue discussions when he came back.

Would you say mentoring is valuable for young people?
Mentoring is valuable for young people to get a chance to talk to another adult who they are not familiar with, talking to someone who doesn’t know them, so they get a chance to start again on a clean slate. Mentoring is also valuable for young people who want to bounce ideas off people who might already have experience in the area they are interested in.

Did you receive support throughout the programme?
I received regular support and would often get a call or an email checking in. Every quarter we would have to submit some reports and I had some technical difficulties. Marilyn helped me out with the issue and helped me get through my paperwork. We also received regular newsletters about what’s happening in the organisation. This was really great to have because it keeps you in touch with everyone else and gives you an idea of what else is happening out there.

What would you say to people who want to join the programme?
I would say that you’ll need to be prepared for how different you may find your mentee, you may be worlds apart. You’ll have to be a good communicator with parents and mentees. Be sure to back up your words with action, always practice what you preach and don’t give out advice that you don’t actually follow yourself, because you won’t be able to get the confidence from your mentee. Make sure that you are in a good place before committing time to help others because they will be relying on you.

In The Know: Discover online opportunities for young people!

In The Know: Discover online opportunities for young people!

In The Know Parents What's new?

Have you considered looking into online opportunities that can help your child build their self-confidence and develop both their soft and hard skills? Have a look at some of the opportunities we’ve listed in this week’s newsletter. They can be a great addition to helping your child prepare for the future. Read on to find out more about these opportunities.

Develop your talents with iDEA
iDEA (Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award) offers young people from 11 and up the opportunity to develop their talents, enhance their skills, and gain information about the digital world and how to stay safe online. For every course that you complete you will unlock new opportunities and get rewarded with career-enhancing badges and earn industry-recognised awards that help you stand out from the crowd. To sign up click here.

Get early career advice!
Youth Employment UK is helping young people between the ages of 14 and 24 with their subject and career choices and also offers mental health support. They offer free training that will help you boost your life and work skills which in turn will assist you to become a young professional. The training helps you to build your confidence and is matched with your interests so that you are engaged every step of the way.  What’s more, you’ll also get access to opportunities for youth-friendly employers and organisations. To sign up for free, click here

Calling on more Girls – Apply to the Youth Board!
Applications to Join the GT Scholars Youth Board have been rolling in! We’re really excited to meet all the young people that have applied so far! We’re also keen to see a few more applications from girls to make sure that the board represents young people from diverse backgrounds. GT Scholars have moved the deadline to Tuesday 30th June 2020, so there is still time for you to apply to join the Youth Board. This is a great opportunity for any young person who would like to take on a new challenge and be part of a group that can make a difference. To apply to click here

Friends of GT Scholars – Worksheets to inspire your mentoring sessions!

Friends of GT Scholars – Worksheets to inspire your mentoring sessions!

Friends of GT Scholars Volunteers

Ahh… Friday my old friend!! Has this week also gone by quickly for you?  Lockdown is being eased, and the question on everyone’s lips is what the new normal will look like? Do you have a post lockdown bucket list? One thing that is definitely on my list, is to go to a drive-in live music concert! The show must go on! And on that note, here’s this week’s newsletter!

Need some more inspiration for your mentoring sessions?
We’ve updated our mentoring worksheets and also added some new worksheets to the mix. The new worksheets cover in-depth topics like understanding your strengths, understanding different personalities and getting revision right. I’ll be sending the new link to all volunteer mentors in the next couple of days. If you need it before then, please feel free to get in touch by sending a quick email and I’ll share the worksheets with you.

Nominate a scholar for the youth advisory board!
The Youth Board is a brilliant opportunity for young people aged between 13 and 17, to have an impact on GT Scholars and make a difference in many young people’s lives! We’ve had applications from different young people over the past few days but we’re keen to see a few more girls joining us! If you have tutored or mentored a young person in the last year and you would like to recommend someone who would be a good fit for our Youth Board, please get in touch!

Quick and easy volunteer opportunities!
If you are eager to volunteer with us but just don’t have the time to commit to being a volunteer tutor or mentor, then this latest blog post is for you. These volunteer opportunities are short-term and you can still help make a difference.  Have a look at our range of exciting volunteer roles for you to consider in the meantime. To find out more about these opportunities, read the full post here.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Marilyn van Heerden

Friends of GT Scholars – Watch the latest scholar spotlight video interview!

Friends of GT Scholars – Watch the latest scholar spotlight video interview!

Friends of GT Scholars Volunteers

It’s nearly the weekend!! Did you know that today is Small Charity Big Impact Day? Many small charities, like ours, are making a difference – Over the past 4 years, volunteers like you, have collectively provided over 2400 hours of one-to-one support to young people! That’s a lot of hours and a lot of success stories to share! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be collecting and sharing more of these stories through our volunteer spotlights and scholar spotlights. Before we slide into the weekend, let me share some more updates at GT Scholars with you!

New Volunteer Mentoring Worksheets!
We’re very pleased to let you know that our new mentoring worksheets will be made available today. Thank you to all the volunteers who worked on creating and updating these sheets and creating the new worksheets! If you’ve been a mentor with us or just signed up, please have a look at the new worksheets which include a range of topics and great ideas for mentoring. The sheets will be uploaded to the shared mentoring folder but please feel free to get in touch if you’d like me to share this link with you again.

Spotlight on one of our scholars – Daniel
We’ve published another great spotlight video interview we had with one of our scholars on the Young Leaders Programme. In the interview, Daniel who’s now 18, shares his experience on the programme and how his mentor has helped him to develop his skills, grow and reach his goals. He’s currently studying sociology, religious studies and psychology, and shares how he has grown through the programme. To watch the video of the full interview, click here.

Nominate a scholar for the youth advisory board!
Applications for scholars to join our youth board are now open! Would you like to recommend your tutee or mentee? If you’ve tutored or mentored a young person in the last year and you think that they’ll be a good fit for our Youth Board please get in touch.  The Youth Board will be made up of young ambassadors aged between 13 and 17. This is a great opportunity for young people who would like to have an impact on GT Scholars and how we approach our programmes. Please send me a quick email if you’d like to nominate a young person.

Have a great week!

Marilyn van Heerden


In The Know: Raising Teens with confidence

In The Know: Raising Teens with confidence

In The Know Parents What's new?

Confidence is key! With so much going on right now in the world, many young people are struggling with anxiety and low confidence. This week we’ve put together some resources that can help young people build their confidence, and build their emotional resilience. By learning these skills early on, your child will be better equipped to deal with any challenges they may encounter now or in the future.

Check out this support portal for young people! is a great site that offers support for both parents and young people. Although based in Australia, the information they provide is really valuable and covers a range of topics including self-confidence, coping skills, dealing with stress and setting goals. To browse through their videos and blogs click here.

Listen to these self-development podcasts for young people
Where There’s Smoke, is a weekly podcast by Brett Gajda and Nick Jaworski for young people. The podcasts explore self-development through the lens of current events, pop culture, and experience.  New episodes come out every Tuesday, and they usually run for about 30 minutes. Episodes feature experts who share their experiences, and the messages are always upbeat and positive. To check out the podcasts click here

Register for a free online Emotional Wellbeing workshop!
When a young person has positive emotional wellbeing they can cope better with challenges and bounce back from those difficulties. The Rio Ferdinand Foundation is offering free online workshops that are suitable for young people aged 13+. This is a 4 part online workshop that is focused on helping young people manage their emotional wellbeing. It takes place every Thursday in July from 4pm – 5pm in a small group workshop that is run on zoom. To sign up click here

In The Know: Let’s make a change – Apply to join the Youth board!

In The Know: Let’s make a change – Apply to join the Youth board!

In The Know Parents What's new?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been getting daily reminders on social media and the news of the change that is happening around us. From young to old, everyone is trying to do their bit to help fight for racial equality and reduce discrimination. It has brought on a global phenomenon that will help shape the future of tomorrow’s leaders. In this newsletter, we’ve highlighted some of the ways you can help make a difference.

Apply to the Youth Board and make a change!
At GT Scholars, we believe that it’s important for young people to have a platform where their voices can be heard. We’re currently taking applications for the Youth Board which will be made up of young ambassadors aged between 13 and 17. This is a great opportunity for young people who would like to have an impact on GT Scholars and how we approach our programmes. For more information on what it’s all about and how you can get involved. Click here

Please take this quick survey for parents!
GT Scholars works with diverse young people and parents and we recognise that we are in a unique position to help bring change in the world when it comes to diversity and equality. We’d love for you to share your ideas and suggestions so that we know how to best support our young people and parents. We’d love to hear from all parents. Please fill in this short survey so we know how best to make a lasting change for the future!

Temi’s article – 7 lessons for my black son (and any other young people)
Did you get a chance to read last week’s article? In this article, Our CEO and Founder, Temi Kamson shares her own experiences of discrimination as well as some of the difficult messages that many parents, like herself, have had to teach their children. Please take some time to read it, comment, and pass it on. It’s an article that is insightful and a must-read for all parents, regardless of your race. The article can be found here.

A mother and son interview on their experience on the Headstart Programme

A mother and son interview on their experience on the Headstart Programme

Parents Scholar spotlight What's new?

Interview with scholar Ameer 

Please tell me a little bit more about yourself, what do you do for fun?
My name is Ameer and I’m 13 years old. For fun, I like to play football, play games on my Xbox and go to the library as I really enjoy reading.

Do you know which career field you would like to go into one day?
I’m really interested in the computer science field as well as the legal field and I’m considering either studying to become a computer scientist or a lawyer.

You have been on the GT scholars programme for a few terms already, what did you enjoy the most during your time on the programme?
One of the things I enjoyed most on the programme was the Coding day that was hosted at Google Centre in London. I got to see the Google building and meet other young people who are also interested in and enjoy computing. I also made a few friends who I saw at other events. 

What were your highlights during the programme?
Learning how to code has definitely been a highlight for me. I’m really interested in pursuing a career in computer science, so learning about coding was really something I enjoyed doing.

Which skill-building day did you enjoy the most?
The day I enjoyed the most was where we were taught how to create our own CV. The office we went to was impressive and the people we met were enthusiastic about what they do and they also enjoyed interacting with young people.

Why did you decide to join GT scholars?
Before I joined GT Scholars, I was really struggling with maths. I joined in order to get some help with that, and I was assigned a tutor to help me improve on my maths grades.

You have been matched with a tutor for a few terms, how did your Maths improve?
My maths grades have improved drastically. I can understand concepts and work through problems that I could not do before I got the help from the tutor. I also improved on my examination grade. I am very pleased about this and so is my Mum.

Did you feel more confident in your Maths?
Yes, I do feel more confident in my maths abilities. Maths feels more relevant now as it felt very random before.

Have you seen any other changes during your time on the Head Start programme? What impact has it had on you?
I can definitely see a change, and my Mum says she can too. I think I am less shy than I was before and even when I do feel shy, I still try and engage with other students and adults. I am much more confident now! 

Did you improve on your other subjects as well during your time on the Headstart Programme?
Yes, I have improved all round. My English, History, Science, and Geography grades have increased by about 10 points and I have been finding it a lot easier for me to concentrate.

You were part of the team of young people who lead the activities at our last volunteer meetup, tell me a little bit more about that?
During this meetup, another young person and I had to deliver ice breaker questions to a group of adults who were thinking of becoming volunteers at GT Scholars. I had to stand up in front of them and speak, which was scary at first but I enjoyed it.

Were you nervous before the meetup or did you feel you had the confidence to do something like that? Was it the first time that you had to talk to a big group of people?
I was really nervous at first because I wasn’t expecting so many people to be there, but it was fun. My Mum was really proud of me as it was something I have never done before.

If you could pick one thing, what do you think was the best thing that your tutor has taught you?
My maths tutor, Toby, taught me that maths is not something to be scared of and that if I don’t worry about it, I can learn something that can also be fun.

What made you decide to enrol in an online tutoring programme instead of a face to face programme?
I am currently homeschooled and don’t have melatonin, so sleeping for me is very difficult. I am not really a morning person, so my Mum arranged for my classes to start a little later in the mornings. Online is better for me because of the time of the sessions, which work well and is convenient for me and my tutor.

Did you feel you were able to connect with your tutor even though he was online? Tell me more about your online sessions, what was it like?
I have been able to connect with all my tutors even though the sessions are online, I don’t find it difficult at all. It is easy to talk about the work and with the whiteboard, I can demonstrate what I want to say which helps us understand each other better.

What would you tell young people who would like to join the GT Scholars programme?
I would tell young people that it is a really good way to learn, they will be relaxed and be able to learn in the comfort of their home. There’s no travelling involved so you don’t waste any time and you can get started with your lesson immediately. When your lesson is finished, you can do what you like because you are already home which is really convenient.


Interview with parent Sharon Laidley

Was there anything specific about GT Scholars that made you decide to join us?
I was drawn to the programme because it is a student and parent focused organisation that offered busy parents and students quality online education at an affordable price. 

From your point of view, what impact do you think the tutoring sessions have had on Ameer?
He is quite a friendly person but can be very shy and not one to initiate or contribute to a conversation unless prompted. The one to one sessions have helped him to gain confidence in communicating. Asking questions when he is unsure has helped him to become a better troubleshooter. 

With the Covid-19 phase that we are in at the moment, I guess it has not impacted Ameer’s schooling because Ameer has been homeschooled. Has there been any change in your study routine? How are you and how are you coping with that?
There has not been any real change in the study routine. We’ve been homeschooling since January 2019, so we feel pretty organised with the help of Home Education groups and forums. Ameer is really enjoying it, although he is missing our lengthy visits to the park and museums. These are great environments to learn in. 

Have you seen any changes in your normal routine with regards to education and online learning during this time or has it stayed normal?
It has pretty much stayed the same. Although, the learning duration has lengthened by about one and a half hours during weekdays. 

Now that everyone is homeschooling with the current situation, how do you feel about that?
It’s an encouraging position for parents and students. It allows for both to understand they have more control and learning can be fun, relevant and personal. 

As a parent how did you find interacting with the tutors?
Thankfully, the matching process made it super easy for Ameer and I to interact with great tutors, who love what they do and are willing to share their knowledge. 

Do you feel that GT Scholars was supportive throughout the term?
As a parent, I always feel supported by GT Scholars. They are only a phone call or email away and always assists with prompt and helpful responses. They go above and beyond expectations. I feel as though I am liaising with an organisation that values young people and their family.

Would you recommend GT Scholars to other parents?
I would recommend GT Scholars and have done so to many other parents.

Do you have anything else you would like to add?
I love the ethos and ethics of the company and I am glad for the impact they are having on Ameer’s life; and if he’s happy, then I am happy!

In The Know: Teaching young people about equality

In The Know: Teaching young people about equality

In The Know Parents What's new?

This week has been all about race and equality. It’s been on social media and in the news and we’re so pleased that more people are talking about this. One of the reasons that we exist at GT Scholars, is because we want to see more young people empowered to make the world a better and more equal place. We want young people to learn about their rights, how they should be treated and how they should interact and treat young people, regardless of background and culture.  A world where equality is a reality is possible if we all play our part in creating awareness. This week we’ve listed some opportunities for young people to get involved in the bigger picture.

Write to your Member of Parliament
A simple, easy and direct way for young people to get their message through, is to write to a Member of Parliament. By doing this, young people can get directly involved in actions that can have a positive impact on equality and shape their future. Make sure to do your research and ensure that your letter is relevant to your area. Express your views and concerns and make suggestions on what Parliament can do to improve equality. To get started click here.

Raise awareness of equality
ThoughtCo has a list of great books on equality that can open young people’s minds to a world that most people don’t talk about. Since inequality is something that we are not born with, it is vital for young people to create their own opinion. When we look at inequality from another person’s experience, we can directly understand the reality of inequality in our world.  Most books are under £10 and are suitable for young people aged 12 and up. For the list of books click here

Teach young people about tolerance!
Teaching Tolerance is home to a great selection of free resources, lesson plans, webinars and podcast that can be used to teach young people about being tolerant. This site offers guidance by learning specialists and experienced educators within the Teaching Tolerance community. This is a great way to enhance the personal development of young people. To get access to free webinars and more click here.