Julie Brown from Plumstead, Norfolk had notched up years of experience in business administration and advertising. But it wasn’t until she switched careers and started working part time at a primary school that she realised how much she enjoyed working with young people.
She had begun contemplating voluntary work when, in 2014, a newspaper article prompted her to approach The Prince’s Trust about becoming a mentor – a role she says is 'fantastic'.
“Young people have their own challenges and many just need that little bit of support they can’t get anywhere else. I wanted to give them that, so I applied to The Prince’s Trust, had an interview at my local office and went on a mentoring course, which was really informative.”
Julie committed to working two days a month as a mentor, an essential role that keeps young people proactively pursuing their goals once a course has ended.
Establishing a rapport with her young people is important to Julie, so she liaises direct with the programme leaders and arranges to go in and spend time with the young people whilst they’re engaged on the course.
“I think this is pretty key to getting that connection. Meeting them beforehand also gives me an insight into how to communicate with them.
“Every young person is different and you never know what to expect, so you help within the parameters they give you. You constantly have to think afresh, and I relish the challenges it presents.”
It’s not just the interaction with the young people that Julie enjoys, it’s the rapport she has with her local Prince’s Trust office, and the support they give her.
“The team in Norwich are great and the relationship I have with them is part of what I like so much. They’re helpful and supportive and always available if I want to talk anything through.
“Being a mentor isn’t a difficult role, and whenever a young person has a positive outcome or says ‘thank you’ it’s fantastic. You can’t help but share their excitement, and that’s when you suddenly think ‘Yes! I’ve made a difference!’