Where it all began

For about 12 years now, my teachers in my life have been telling me that I should work with young people. I thought it was a nice idea, but I just didn’t know how I could help: what would I do with them? How would I engage them? What skills could I bring to help them? I just didn’t know.. so I’ll be honest with you, I forgot about what my teachers had said and carried on with my life and work.

I’m lucky in my life. I run my own business with my mum, and together we have found a great purpose in helping others through what we do. We run a business consultancy, Meta, and in the last 7 or so years working for the company I have finally felt that I have begun to realise my potential.

I was always bright at school, bright enough that I didn’t have to work very hard at it. I was also what you’d call ‘different’. I had long hair, and had a liking for all things black. I was also, due to my upbringing, very ‘grown up’ for my age, which meant that I was pretty challenging to my teachers at school. Some of them went with it and they became some of the best mentors in my life. Others didn’t know what to do with me, and the result was, for me, lower exam grades in those subjects.

I’ve been a success in my life. I’ve coached and mentored some of the top directors in some of the country’s top companies, and helped many, many people from all walks of life figure out what they really want from life, and got them back in touch with themselves. I know I have the skills to help people to uncover their potential, but until recently I didn’t see how I could help young people specifically.

In 2007, I was in a Berlin music studio, achieving my dream of ‘being a rock star’ (whilst still being a business consultant by day ) and while I was there, I remembered my school mentor, Mr.Dowson, without whom I didn’t think I’d be there. I wanted to go back and find him, tell him that “I’d made it” and that all those after school hours spent with me in the music block were worthwhile, that he’d really made a difference.

To cut a long story short, I found Mr.Dowson, (Kevin – how weird is it to call your old teacher by their first name??) and told him my story. He was touched and invited me back to my old school to talk to his GCSE music students. I gave the talk, and I was hooked, there was something about that day that resonated very deep inside of me, and seeing those young faces I knew I had to help.

So I went back to my old school – Droitwich High School and put together a proposal to use my mentoring skills to help A-Level students there. The concept was to help those with potential that just weren’t achieving – young people who were bright but just disengaged. I have been working at my old school now for 2 years, and I feel that I truly have found my purpose.

It has also made me realise just how amazing young people can be, given the right support, and I want to give my time and energy to helping as many young people as I can.

That is why I have set up Meta Mentoring, to help these young people get re-engaged with the education system, and realise their potential. I know it may sound corny but I truly believe that some of these young people are the bright young stars of our future. ALL the young people I have worked with have, with just a few mentoring sessions turned their stories around. They have a renewed self-belief, a drive and determination to succeed and the motivation to get them to where they want to be.

With the move extending compulsory education to 18, there will be more and more young people who would not have chosen to stay on, who will be disengaged and disenchanted with the school system. I believe that in the future we will need more and more mentors to give one to one support for these young people, to help them re-engage.

That is why I have now created a “Mentor Development Programme” a 6-month personal development and mentor training programme, which will help develop young mentors for the future.

The more I see of my old school, the more I see what I can do to help. I’m now working with the leadership team at Droitwich High School, helping them create and realise their vision of being a truly excellent teaching team and school.

I truly hope that by setting up Meta Mentoring I can make a difference. I want as many young people as possible to be able to get this support, not just those I can personally mentor, and that’s why I’m doing this. I believe that young people are our future, and we need to help them right now. Meta Mentoring is my way of giving something back. I don’t do Meta Mentoring to earn a living, I do it because I believe in young people and know I can make a difference. I hope you will help me in making that difference and growing the Meta Mentoring story.

In peace,

Jo xxx