A mentor involved in a one-to-one coaching scheme for vulnerable kids says he has enjoyed taking part so much he wants to help other youngsters in future.
Ali Colville was one of the first mentors to get involved with Breakthrough Dundee, a £1 million project launched last year to support disadvantaged youngsters in the city.
The scheme links mentors with people such as young carers, children in care or those in vulnerable positions, such as those living with family members who have substance misuse issues.
And it is about to expand further — with more people urged to come forward as mentors.
Ali, from Stobswell, has been paired with a 17-year-old pupil from Morgan Academy since the end of last year and, over the last six months, has helped him to see a brighter future.
The 35-year-old, who works as a digital developer, said: “I’ve got two daughters so the idea of being able to relate a bit more and lend a hand to someone was key.”
After signing up, Ali was carefully matched with his mentee to ensure they would connect well.
The pair meet in the school for an hour each week – but Ali says he doesn’t have a fixed training plan or goal.
Instead, he sees himself as a guiding hand, helping the youngster to reach the goals he might not have the confidence to reach on his own.
“I like to think of our meetings as just chatting with a friend,” he said.
“You don’t go in with a particular strategy.
“I just ask him how he’s getting on, what he did at the weekend, his health, all that sort of thing.
“When I started seeing him he seemed quite confident, but the school said outside of our sessions he wasn’t working or studying very hard.
“But his confidence and his ambitions are coming out.
“We’ve got similar senses of humour and he’s got a placement set for Abertay. It’s only an hour a week for me – but it can mean a lot to him.”
Breakthrough is based in two Dundee secondary schools — Morgan Academy and St Paul’s RC Academy.
In September, the project will launch in an additional four schools, Harris Academy, St John’s RC High School, Baldragon Academy and Craigie High, which means demand for mentors will increase.
The project is currently engaging with 84 young people across the first two schools with 31 active mentors.
A further 43 mentors are ready to be matched with a young person and another 62 are waiting to be trained.
Ali’s mentee said: “The thing I like most about my mentor is that he helps me get work placements and helps me choose a career but also he’s there to support me and basically be a friend. The thing I like most about being mentored is that someone is sharing their experiences on what to do in interviews and jobs.
“I’d like to say thank you to Ali for always doing his best with me and being there for me.”
Jenny Patterson, CEO of Breakthrough Dundee, said: “The commitment, energy and enthusiasm that Ali and our other Breakthrough mentors bring to their role is already having a life-changing impact on our young people.
“The difference they have made in a relatively short period of time is nothing short of incredible.”
For more information, visit breakthroughdundee.co.uk/mentor.