Fran’s Story: from mentee to Deputy Head Girl

Fran was referred to the Youth Adventure Trust because she was struggling to attend school; she’d experienced bullying, had low self-esteem and confidence, and often got anxious when away from home. Fran really struggled on the programme and needed a lot of encouragement, becoming very homesick on her residential camps. The nature of large group camps and coach travel were a real struggle for Fran, and her Programme Manager, Kerrie, wanted to look at a different way to support her towards the end of the main programme, to ensure she got the most out of her time with the Youth Adventure Trust. Kerrie was able to put Fran forward to the YAT Mentoring Scheme a year earlier than usual so she could benefit from the one to one support the scheme offered which was more suited to her needs, ensuring she had a positive end to the main programme and a smooth transition to mentoring support.

Fran is very articulate and wanted a mentor to help her to talk to people she doesn’t know and to help her to regain the confidence that she once had, which had been lost due to bullying. More than anything, she wanted the confidence to smile again.

Fran and her mentor forged a strong relationship from the outset, and Fran really appreciated having someone to talk to who didn’t judge anything she said.

She just lets me talk it out instead of weaving away from the conversation. It’s good talking to someone with an outside perspective so you’re not just talking to the people who know you best and will only give you the answer that they know you want to hear. I’m quite chatty but sometimes I do go a bit quiet so it’s great that my mentor will help start the conversation if I go a bit quiet because I’m worried about saying the wrong thing – she takes away the awkwardness.

Together they have shared treasure hunts, walks, pottery and painting, where Fran has been able to share her worries and concerns with her mentor. Their regular sessions enable Fran to build her confidence by challenging herself with a variety of everyday tasks which had previously been a barrier;

The really basic things are the things I find the hardest, the day-to-day things make me so nervous. I’ve definitely gained more confidence but I just want to carry on doing things, whether it’s going out for meals, going to shows or doing activities, just gaining the confidence – the big bits, the little bits.

One of those everyday challenges was her fear of getting on a bus. This was something that Fran and her mentor had planned to work on in a future session, but after a period of mentoring support Fran felt she had the strength to do it by herself to great success. As Fran lives in a different town to her school and friends, conquering this fear has made a huge difference and enables her to meet with friends and travel to school independently.

It’s clear that her confidence is increasing, something she has noticed in all areas of her life. Fran has used this new-found confidence to challenge herself outside of her mentoring sessions by taking the huge step of applying to be Deputy Head Girl at her school, something that would have been unthinkable when she joined the programme. We are delighted to share that she was successful; we’re all so proud of her!

The sessions with my mentor gave me the confidence to apply

Fran, 15