Beverley Webster OBE from Malaczynski Burn is our 2018 Citi Bank Volunteer of the Year for Yorkshire & Humber. Here, she shares her experience of being a Career Ready volunteer and the difference she makes to the lives of young people.
Forming the Local Advisory Board for Longley Park Sixth Form in Sheffield 12 years ago has been one of the most rewarding and humbling projects I have ever had the privilege of being involved with. Longley Park is in an area of our city where it is not atypical for our students to come from backgrounds where families are locked in second or even third generations unemployment.
One story which has stuck with me from the early days is when we gave students some money to buy some suitable clothes for their Career Ready interview. One student came into the interview wearing a hoody & slouched down in his chair. When we asked why he wasn’t wearing his suit, he told us that he had put it on that morning but that his father said: “you know they won’t pick you”. He then reached into his pocket and took out his mobile phone & said: “but I took a photograph of myself wearing my suit”.
Two years later he graduated from Career Ready having won a place at Sheffield Hallam University to study Business Studies. He came up to me and said, “you won’t remember but I’m the one with the photograph”. I said, “of course I remember you and I bet your dad’s proud of you now!” To which he shrugged and replied, “no he’s not right bothered”.
If we can just encourage a millimetre of a shift in attitude in our students and their aspirations, it can grow exponentially into opening opportunities they never dreamed of.
That really caused me to reflect that many of our students are not only challenged with raising their own personal aspirations but also potentially against a backdrop of even being actively discouraged to achieve.
When I compare my own life, I had parents who believed I could achieve anything I set my heart on and I went to a school that taught me the power of self-belief.
As teachers, employers & parents, we all owe the next generation of students entering the workplace that sense of self-belief which I believe we are delivering at Longley Park through Career Ready.