Twelve years ago, Pam Whitehead, from Nottingham, felt it was time she gave something back.
A talk at an event she attended convinced her that she wanted to volunteer with The Prince’s Trust, so she applied and began working as a mentor – a role that, to date, has seen her positively impact on the lives of more than 50 young people.
“I come from a background that’s meant I’ve had to work extremely hard to get where I am, but there have always been two or three people in my life that I could count on to help and support me. Some young people don’t have that and don’t necessarily get the breaks in life that they need. That’s when they start to feel remote and lost. As a volunteer I can now help people make that leap forward at those critical moments in their life.”
Pam’s focus as a Trust volunteer is twofold: she is a mentor who draws on her coaching and HR experience to support young people wanting to get back into education or find employment; and she is an individual business mentor, guiding young entrepreneurs in the first two years of launching their own businesses.
“There can be such a hole between school life and work life, getting that bridge back into academia or work can be invaluable. As a mentor, you’re there to listen to the young people; explore the opportunities available to them and look at their challenges in a way that helps them find a solution that is right for them.
Throughout her time as a volunteer, Pam’s level of commitment to the young people has remained constant. It’s something she feels strongly about, and for good reason.
“I think the worst you can do is let your support fizzle out or not play your part. If you do, you’re just another person who’s let a young person down. So many organisations offer support to young people and then when they’ve had the allotted time they stop giving it, but The Prince’s Trust keep it going, and that’s the key.
“Being there for them when things start to wobble is so important. I often get a text at the weekend saying ‘this has just happened, can you spare me two minutes?’ At that moment in time, it’s their whole world, and I must respond in the right way. Often it’s just a question of helping them see things from a different perspective to help them move forward”
The work Pam does as a volunteer now impacts beyond mentoring. She recently become involved in Million Makers initiative and also trains new mentors, shaping the way they respond and support vulnerable young people.
After working as a Head of HR in a large bank and starting her own business consultancy, Pam is now able to have more control over her professional workload, and plans to dedicate more time to The Trust, and hopes others will be encouraged do the same.
“To anyone who is considering volunteering with The Trust, don’t hesitate. If you have time to spare, even just an hour, make it happen. That one hour of dedication can make such a huge difference to someone’s life and the rewards and sense of achievement when you’ve helped someone on their way is phenomenal.”