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Mayor launches Unexpected Mentor campaign

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, took part in a mentoring session for young people as he launched the new programme

Posted by Julian Owen | November 18, 2017 | Events

A new campaign, Unexpected Mentor, aims to widen the appeal of mentoring to employees and entrepreneurs. It was launched jointly by the West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, with the chief executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company, Claudia Harris, at Bristol-based OVO Energy’s headquarters.

OVO Energy launched a mentoring programme with West of England Mentoring (WEM) in September. 14 employees are involved, supporting more than 30 secondary school students at City Academy and Oasis Academy Brislington. WEM is now looking for more local businesses, especially those with a diverse workforce, to get involved and share their experiences and expertise with young people.

Tim Bowles said: “As a region we need to ensure we have the right skills for businesses now and into the future and we must encourage young people to realise their potential.

“Mentoring can really help boost the confidence of young people, and it works particularly well when the mentors are people they can relate to. It’s also a good way of ensuring that young people get to know the vast range of career opportunities available to them in the West of England. I would encourage businesses across our region to get involved – it will benefit their current employees and help nurture future employees too.”

"Mentors find it incredibly rewarding and tell us they learn new valuable skills which are then utilised in the workplace.”

According to The Careers and Enterprise Company, young people with mentors - especially those at risk of disengagement - have more positive visions of themselves and their futures, and can achieve more in school, work and life.

Chief Executive Claudia Harris said: “Our organisation is involved in helping young people make successful transitions into the world of work. Matching a young person with a mentor can help with this. The Unexpected Mentor campaign presents an excellent opportunity to collaborate with colleagues across the country and we are delighted to be working with the West of England Mayor and companies like OVO whose commitment to mentoring is outstanding.

“The campaign builds on our mentoring fund which has already invested over £300,000 in proven mentoring organisations in the South West ,such as The Brightside Trust and Young Enterprise.”

WEM is a consortium of Ablaze, Mentoring Plus and Babbasa, delivering best practice in mentoring across the region. WEM is currently working to reach 450 students and involve more than 15 employers across Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire this year alone.

Jenny Perez, who supports businesses and schools for WEM, said: “We believe the employability, skills and experiences of every kind of employee can be inspirational to students. Mentors find it incredibly rewarding and tell us they learn new valuable skills which are then utilised in the workplace.”

Gaby Sethi, Head of OVO Foundation and Corporate Social Responsiblity, said: “This year marks the first time OVO has been involved in the WEM programme, and we’re excited to already see the difference the programme can make for both the students and mentors.

“Mentoring supports ongoing learning opportunities in Bristol and by opening our doors to mentor local schoolchildren, we can help provide an insight into the world of work and provide our staff with a rewarding way to give back to the local community. Our mentors are also looking forward to continuing with the scheme with a new set of students in 2018.”

For more information about the campaign visit



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