Raising Aspirations is an innovative community mentoring project, which matches volunteers from local businesses and community networks to provide support to young people. With the support of their mentors, young people gain improved self-esteem, aspirations and ability to form support networks, leading to increased GCSE attainment.
Somerset Community Foundation launched the project in 2011 with support from the Ninesquare Trust. We began work at Crispin School in Street and, since its launch, we have recruited and trained over 120 mentors to support over 100 young people there.
With the support of Taunton Deane Borough Council, the scheme is now extended to Taunton Academy and Court Fields School in Wellington and 40 mentors are now supporting students in Year 7 (age 11) of each school.
Since the launch of the project, we have been working with researchers from the University of the West of England to evaluate the impact of the programme. We have produced an analysis of the key findings and from these three pilot projects in this report.
One student said: "I used to care so much what people thought of me that I would take time off sick from school as I was so worried. Mentoring has given me so much confidence, encouraged me to put myself forward for things and try things I've never done before."
Another said "Mentoring has been a life changing experience. It has moulded us into confident people. Thank you."
More information on the findings of this research will be available in due course. Meanwhile, we are looking to work with local partners to grow the Raising Aspirations project across the county. If you represent an organisation that is interested to deliver a mentoring scheme in Somerset and would like more information about Raising Aspirations, please call our Programmes Manager Jocelyn Blacker on 01749 344949.