We had the pleasure of interviewing a parent of one of the scholars on the mentoring programme. Bola tells us more about her experience, why she wanted her son to join the mentoring programme, and the impact that the programme had on her son’s life.
Hello, my name is Bola, I’m Daniel’s mum and Daniel was a scholar on the GT Scholars programme. I found out about GT Scholars from a friend.
Why did you sign up to GT Scholars?
The reason why I wanted Daniel to go on a mentoring programme was that he got to the end of year 11, his GCSE was good and he’s grades were in between A-C’s. He seemed to have lost his focus and a sense of direction on what he wanted to do next. Daniel went to college and he was doing fairly alright, but I felt there was something missing. I was looking for a group that could cater to his needs and I was glad that I found GT Scholars. I wanted Daniel to have a focus and direction, and that is why I opted for the mentoring programme so that he would have someone to help him have a direction in life.
What was it like at the start of the programme?
Once Daniel got accepted to the mentoring programme, a mentor got allocated to him, and we had to go and meet Jason at his office. Daniel was very anxious, and I think refusal would be a strong word to use, but he asked me why he needed a mentor. He wasn’t happy at first, but he came along anyway, and I think that was one of the best things for Daniel.
What expectations did you have?
I was expecting a few things from the mentoring sessions. One of the things I think that I got from the mentoring sessions was for Daniel to relate to somebody outside of the family circle. His mentor was also able to arrange for him to go into another workplace so that he could see what other workplaces look like.
What was the joining process like?
Getting involved with GT Scholars, I think it was a successful relationship. When I submitted Daniel’s application, I received an email and a call from Marilyn. Every time I saw the number, I would know it’s Marilyn who’s calling me. I’ve received regular phone calls from her to hear how the relationship between Daniel and his mentor was going and to find out if there was anything they could do to support me.
What was your child’s mentor like?
The first time I met Jason, I could see Daniel related to him, and that made me feel more relaxed about the relationship. Sometimes you may have to go through a few mentors before finding the right one. I’ve had to manage some of the sessions. In the beginning, Daniel was not resistant to meeting with Jason, but he’s diary was quite full at the time. Sometimes I had to tell Daniel that he’s got a session with Jason and that he needs to make sure that the meeting holds because I believe that regular meetings would make the mentoring sessions work.
Why was mentoring valuable for your child?
For Daniel mentoring was not about improving academically, but to have someone to help him with direction and in deciding his next steps in life. I’ve noticed changes in Daniel, simple things like timekeeping, making sure he’s presentable and ensuring once he’s decided to do something, to keep to doing it, and completing the task rather than coming up with excuses.
Would you recommend GT Scholars to other parents?
I would recommend GT Scholars, and I have been advocating particularly for the appearance of young black boys, it is my passion because I don’t want any of our children to be part of the statistics. GT Scholars are doing a really good job, but not a lot of people know about them.
I’d like to say a big thank you to GT Scholars. Daniel started on the programme when he was 16, and I wish that I knew about it when he was younger. The mentoring programme that GT Scholars provides and the impact it had on my son is great. I know sometimes we can’t measure the impact of something, but I can see the impact of faith. I just want GT Scholars to continue to do good work.
In addition, I’d like to say a big thank you to Jason for just listening and being there for Daniel. I know sometimes it was a bit rocky with Daniel not always being responsive, but thank you for sticking with him, getting him through the programme, and getting him to have a focus in life.