Congrats to Laura and the Academy for their Youth on Board Awards!

July 6, 2012

Long-time mentor and Project Leader Laura Hillier is celebrating her Youth on Board Award ‘Make a Difference’ this weekend along with all of the boys at the ReachOut! Academy, which won an ‘Inspiring Project’ Award from the British Youth Council.

“I feel incredibly honoured and grateful to be receiving this award.” said Laura “I have thoroughly enjoyed running the project and I am so proud of all the work that ReachOut! does to support young people in the Manchester community”.

The British Youth Council recognised Laura for her volunteering at our Chrysalis Club, which would have shut down if she had not stepped into the role of volunteer Project Leader. They also singled out our Academy Programme for it’s inspiring involvement of young people, giving them a voice and helping them to achieve. 

Well done to everyone!


ReachOut! Cup 2012

June 22, 2012

Pitches ready, refs ready, teams ready, wind and rain ready, CHECK! 

Despite the relentless rain and wind 10 corporate teams put on their kits and battled it out for the ReachOut! Cup 2012.

The tournament started with the group stages.

Klarius went through with four straight wins and was joined by Berryman’s, Nando’s and Cardinal Maritime. All four teams battled it out but as time ran out with both matches at a draw, it came down to penalties to decide the finalists.

For the third year running Nando’s narrowly missed the final and were left on the side line watching as Berryman’s played against Klarius, the reigning champions.

Both teams dug deep but it was Berryman’s that won the match and lifted the cup in victory.

Thank you to all of the teams that came out on such a wet and windy evening to support us. Your support and donations are invaluable.

Teams this year were from:  Berryman’s, Proctor and Gamble, Glaisyers, Nando’s, Cardinal Maritime, Klarius, Simply Health, Zurich, AMEC, Grant Thornton.

We would also like to say thank you to Pret A Manger for donating the food for our players.


RO! Boys visit Madrid

May 14, 2012

On Saturday 31st of March 2012 I was one of 27 lucky people with a huge feeling of anxious excitement, ready and waiting to get on a plane and head over to Spain for 5 days.  The trip started well with lots of enthusiasm from both staff and mentees, a feeling that continued throughout. Having twenty one young lads to look after was very daunting and the sense of enormous responsibility made each of us that little bit more alert.

We stayed in a very nice Hostel near the centre of Madrid, it was a clean and well looked after place that allowed us easy access to anywhere in the city as the underground metro was less than a hundred meters from the front door. There was a bakery next door and a busy square just down the road, packed with restaurants, internet cafés and souvenir shops. All in all the location was perfect.

During the trip we visited a fair few places such as the huge home stadium of Real Madrid called the Santiago Bernabau, also the royal palace, an enormous cathedral, and a great theme park. All travelling was done using the metro link and walking. We played football often and there was never a moment of boredom, everyone always had something to do. This also enabled the boys to get a good sense of responsibility which they prided themselves on during the trip, it was cool to be a responsible young adult.

The trip was a complete success in every way. The preparation was incredible and showed constantly. All people who went on the trip either matured or gained invaluable experience, socially, culturally, responsibly and everyone gained a great deal of respect for a number of things but more importantly, self-respect and respect for others.

Over 100 people put in their own time, personality and good will into making this trip a success. Their combined efforts realised something extraordinary in that all mentees of the trip Madrid 2012 learned a great deal in those jam packed 5 days of laughter, football, rubbish jokes and epic journeys and there are many good examples.

What a great example the boys set with good behaviour and respect shown throughout. In particular, when travelling from place to place on foot and using public transport. In a group of at least 27 the probability of various types of hindering problems is great. But thanks to the example set by the quality of ReachOut! ideals and the maturity of our group no such problems were even encountered. The boys showed excellent team work ability when travelling, along with the maturity that would normally be considered beyond their years. They are a credit to themselves, to ReachOut! and to the areas in which they live.

Stephen Coulson


Thank you to our AMAZING volunteers!

May 3, 2012

ReachOut! loves our volunteers. Fact! We celebrated in style on Saturday with our annual swanky awards at Whitworth Art Gallery. Over 80 volunteers came along to pick up their certificates and see which brilliant duo had been named Mentor of the Year and Volunteer of the Year 2012.

Lindsey Willis was named Mentor of the Year for her outstanding contribution to the Harpur Mount Club last year and the Our Lady’s Junior mentors this year. Kate Millington was recognised for Volunteer of the Year because, as well as being a top class mentor for three years, she is a volunteer Project Leader and member of the ReachOut! Society Committee. All volunteers were recognised through:

Bronze Award – for your first year or 30 hours volunteering

Silver Award – for your second year or 60 hours volunteering

Gold Award – for your third year or 100 hours of volunteering

We also gave our fantastic Project Leaders and Assistants certificates confirming their contributions and heard from all volunteers at all the Programmes about what they had got up to in the year.

The event was delivered with the help of Grant Thornton, who kindly sponsor the ReachOut! Society.  Grant Thornton are an international professional services and accounting firm and you can find out more about their amazing graduate scheme at http://www.grant-thornton.com/graduates.

Thank you to Rise, the RO! Soc Comittee, and Heidi for organising a great day. Everyone had a fantastic time – check out the pictures!

Hannah Christie


From a mentor’s mouth

March 12, 2012

So what exactly is mentoring? This week we spoke to one of our mentors, Francesca Mack, to hear more about what being a ReachOut! mentor in a primary school is like. Here’s what she had to say:

What is the process involved in becoming a mentor?

The mentors all have a few training sessions at the ReachOut! offices which helps to prepare us a bit. We discuss ways to approach activities with mentees and discuss any potentially tricky situations we may encounter. This is helpful to ease us in a bit but ultimately it is a learning procedure the whole way through as each week I am learning and hopefully improving.

And when you arrive at the school what happens then? Do you meet your mentee straight away?

No we aren’t actually assigned a mentee for the first few weeks. We (all the mentors and mentees) work together in one group and we are then matched up depending on our interactions.

Can you tell us a bit about your mentee?

Daisy is 8, really lovely and very keen to be involved in the programme. It’s quite sweet, last week she said she had been looking forward to it all week. One of the main things we are working on is self-confidence. We get information from the teachers about any issues that a mentee might have and areas to work on.

And what is the school like?

The school is so bright! You forget how many colours are everywhere at primary schools. There is a real sense of community as well which is really nice to see. The only thing is in classes of 30 or so quieter children like my mentee can’t really be given that extra attention, which is where I come in!

What do you do on a typical visit?

All the mentors meet at ReachOut! before going together in the minibus to the school. We meet the students in the playground which is great as we see them interact with their friends and can socialise a bit in a more relaxed atmosphere. We then go to the library or a room where we work individually with our mentee. We are here until the end of the day, so for about three hours. We split our session into three parts: Literature, Maths and then a creative project.

What kind of creative projects?

It just depends from week to week. One week we both really enjoyed we read some of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the literature section and then designed our own wacky sweets in the creative time. That was really fun. Around Christmas we all made Christmas trees and cards.

ReachOut! has some arts and craft resources to help us with this bit too. I love it, it’s such a great excuse to do things we can’t do at our age!

So ReachOut! still provide you with support throughout your mentoring?

Yes it’s really lovely, I get texts each week confirming it is on, or saying it’s half term. And we all go to the school together each week which makes it a group effort which is reassuring. We also fill in a form at the end of each session saying what we did and how well it went, I guess so they can keep an eye on what we are doing. They’ve also made an effort to do things outside of our sessions, whether mentors curry or just a couple of drinks after we finish, it makes the whole experience much friendlier.

And are you all following the same programme for what you do with your mentees?

No we decide that ourselves which can be quite challenging, especially at the beginning as it’s hard to know what level the work should be. I was worried about making it too hard which would make her nervous and not make the sessions enjoyable. It’s a learning curve, it just means we have to be able to adapt to what is appropriate.

I also discuss with my mentee our plans for next week. This way I make sure we are doing something that is interesting for her and makes her involved in the whole process.

What else have you found challenging as a mentor?

It is been hard to make sure she is writing down what she thinks, not what I think. When we were writing down some words if I mention something she will write it down. So I have to hold back sometimes and keep asking what she thinks. It’s great though as I have started to see her be more willing to put forward her own ideas as a result of this.

You’ve started to see changes in her behaviour? That must feel so rewarding.

To a certain extent, yes. It’s the small things like putting forward those ideas and being a bit more confident generally. She plays the violin in a group of four and I have started to see her be more confident amongst her peers in that situation, where she used to be very reserved. It is hard to see progress sometimes though. We only meet for three hours a week so obviously we can’t make changes overnight. We keep a booklet to help us document any progress.

Do you feel like mentors make a difference for the mentees?

Without a doubt. The children really seem to look forward to our sessions. We are all uni students as well so hopefully we act as a positive role model for them. I think it is more important for behavioural issues rather than academic, but it’s still early days so who knows! It is a mutually beneficial process though. Many of the other mentors want to work in teaching or study psychology so for them it’s really great experience.

Do you think you will carry on with mentoring?

I am thinking about working with secondary school pupils next year, depending on University commitments. It would be an entirely different experience. I think it would be much more challenging to break down barriers with the students but I think progress would be more noticeable.

What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming a mentor?

I would recommend it to anybody considering it – there are moments in each session that make you think that it’s all worth it. Whether it’s their enthusiasm for getting something right or telling you how much they enjoy the sessions or tell you they’ve improved in their class scores or whatever. It makes you proud of them and making even a small difference to the way they approach work makes it all worth it.

Georgia Stevenson


Battling Bands Boost for RO!

March 6, 2012

“As a rock star, I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both.” Or so said inspirational Irishman Bono. Somewhere a little closer to home, fundraising volunteer Mark Beckwith got going on a Battle of the Bands fundraiser for RO!. 

On the night, almost two hundred people turned up to show their support for ReachOut! at the Battle of the Bands, hosted by the Ram and Shackle in Fallowfield. The bands did everything they could, playing all their favourite songs, and after a very competitive crowd shout out, Heavy Metal-ers Nepenthe were crowned the glorious winners.

Other bands were: – Sword in Air (Indie), Motorboats (Indie), The Jet Black Royals (Alt Rock), House Music, Please (Indie), Shades of Avalon (Heavy Metal), Vamos Vaquero (Punk/d&b/alt Rock), Get to the Chopper! (Indie).

The three organisers of the event described it as a huge success – after receiving compliments about the night from several of the bands, members of the crowd and venue staff! Best of all, the night raised an amazing £565 for ReachOut!

Thanks to everyone who came, all the bands and of course Mark and his friends for organising it.

Nepenthe take to the stage

Photo: Alexander Bell

Hannah Christie


Bright Future: Peer Mentoring a Hit in Manchester

February 24, 2012

It’s 4:30 on a chilly Wednesday afternoon at St. Malachy’s Primary School in Blackley, North Manchester. A time when the school would usually be eerily silent. As teachers, their pupils long since dismissed, beginning to tip-toe their way towards the staff car park. But not today. Today is the last day of ReachOut’s peer mentoring project and the noisy enthusiasm of the mentees, junior mentors and senior mentors involved echo around the walls of St. Malachy’s.

The project is giving 45 high school pupils, 42 primary school pupils and 16 university students the chance to do something positive together. Funded in part by GMYN and the Feel Good Fund, young people are coming together to support, entertain and inspire each other.

Back at St. Malachy’s LMFAO blares from the speakers of a school stereo in one room, as mentees, junior mentors and senior mentors alike perfect their dance routine. And while the room allocated to those wishing to participate in an arts and crafts session with their mentors is awash with calm, contentment; a chaotic game of dodgeball continues a-pace in the school hall which everyone seems to be enjoying nonetheless.

These highly popular sessions of either: arts and crafts, dance or sport follow one-on-one academic time between primary school children  and their allocated Junior Mentor. Moreover the fact everyone participating has done so through choice means the mentees do their work willingly not reluctantly, with junior and senior mentors equally obliged to help.

Speaking to mentors and mentees as they work together in one of the most harmonious classrooms you could ever see, the positive effect ReachOut! has on the lives of young people is evident. Junior Mentor Ryan and his mentee Scott seem to be a particularly good team. Speaking to 15 year old Ryan, it’s clear his experience of the scheme may well shape his future:“I’ve always been good at talking, and being able to help Scott has made me think about working with children as a future career. It’s good helping people.”

Mentee Scott meanwhile, has been given a new found focus since being involved in the scheme. “I enjoy the sports activities at the end, but my schoolwork seems easier because of the help Ryan gives me – I feel more confident. When I’m older I want to be a footballer, but it’s still important to work hard at school too, so coming here helps me with that.”

Ryan and Scott’s sentiments are echoed by junior mentor Rebecca (also year 10) and her mentee Demi. “I became a mentor because most of my friends were also getting involved. It’s nice to be able to help Demi with her work and it’s something I might continue to do in the future.”

ReachOut! Project Manager Ged Poyning, now 21, is a former Our Lady’s student himself. “I first got involved with ReachOut! because it gave me a sense of being part of a group within the community. I soon started volunteering part-time, mentoring year 7 students. I would help them with maths and then there would be sports activities afterwards, it was a very similar format to the one you’ve seen today. The best thing about working for ReachOut! is being able to help and give something back to my local community.” 

With that, Ged returns to the hall and brings the final frenetic game of dodgeball to a close, before thanking everyone for coming and encouraging them to applaud their successes.  Looking around, it’s easy to see why Ryan, Scott and all the others have stayed an extra two hours after school today. Clutching art projects, dodge balls, and certificates they aren’t just smiling, they’re beaming.

Josh Nicholls