National Grid volunteers gain new perspective through mentoring scheme

National Grid recently supported Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) through its staff volunteering to be mentors.  The scheme was a huge success. We caught up with some of the mentors and mentees to find out how they benefited.

National Grid supplies gas and electricity to millions of people across the UK. It has worked with Volunteering Matters, the UK volunteering and social action charity, since 2012. TPT approached Volunteering Matters to see if any of its corporate clients might give some time to TPT employees.

Six volunteers from National Grid were matched with eight TPT staff members. All mentees from TPT are blind or partially sighted so TPT provided vision awareness training to mentors before coaching started.

There were clear goals TPT wanted to achieve from the mentoring programme. These included: support with getting your voice heard in a team with strong characters; how to hit the ground running when changing roles; how to transition from being a volunteer to being a member of staff; how to input into great event management; and time management.

 

The coaching sessions took place virtually over a three-month period.

Katharina from National Grid was matched with Mariam, who is TPT’s Virtual Intern. Katharina said: “I have very much enjoyed the mentoring sessions and found them rewarding as they allowed me to share my experience and learnings around career progression, gaining self-awareness, stakeholder management and project management.

Mariam was a pleasure to mentor. I appreciated her reflections and her increasing levels of confidence as we progressed through the sessions.”

 

Mariam also found the experience positive: “Working with a National Grid mentor has given me a good sense of what I should expect from a work environment, which is great as someone beginning in an entry level role. It has given me a grounding in ways of navigating the workplace, which I believe will be really useful in a variety of future situations. I would recommend it to anyone starting their employment journey.”

 

Courtney Nugent is Volunteer Administrator at TPT and was matched with Katy from National Grid. She said: “I have really valued my time as a mentee on the National Grid Mentoring Programme. These sessions helped me to gain more confidence. My mentor has taught me that I can put my mind to anything I would like to achieve and that I need to stop doubting myself.”

 

Her mentor, Katy Campbell, said: “It has been useful to learn how to build an effective relationship virtually which is something I have not experienced in the past. Courtney and I have taken the time to get to know each other sharing experiences from our personal as well as professional life. This has enabled us to find where we relate and learn from each other where we don’t, which I believe has made our sessions useful for us both.”

 

Ellen Struthers was matched with TPT’s Engagement Manager Bhavini Makwana, she said:

“I have had good feedback from Bhavini, and it sounds like our conversation helped her with perspective on items and engaging with others. It was a great activity to engage in and I certainly took away pointers on coaching others and how other people view situations.”

 

Bhavini agreed that she gained a huge amount from the pairing, both personally and professionally. She said: “What we discussed had great value. It gave me a different perspective on how to approach conversations. I am applying this more and more with different parts of my work and personal life. I’ve gained such a lot from talking to Ellen.”

 

Every single National Grid mentor indicated they would be interested in doing something similar. Reasons they gave around wanting to be involved in the programme again included:

 

“To improve my skills as well as others.”

 

“To help other people on their journey – people always learn best by teaching and guiding. I would develop myself by seeing how my interaction impacted on others, and continual feedback on how the messages are received and activities go.”

 

“To push myself out of my comfort zone and use free time to give something back. To be able to share new experiences and insights into challenges, and measure by how many others change their approaches/provide support.”

 

Rachel Wilkinson, Head of Engagement and Public Affairs, said: “This programme proved so beneficial for our team and volunteers – but also to the mentors from National Grid by providing a different perspective.  We are so grateful for their support, we hope National Grid will continue to work with us.”

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