Since the start of the year, 12 students from across the institution have been meeting with 12 teenagers from Eritrea, Sudan, Albania and Afghanistan to help them improve their numeracy and literacy skills and increase their confidence.
The mentoring project is a result of the University’s partnership with Baca – a Loughborough-based charity that provides specialist supported accommodation and training for forced migrants aged 16 to 18.
Roz Crouch, Volunteer and Mentor Coordinator at Baca, said: “The tutoring project is already impacting our young people so much. We strive to empower the young people into independence and this project is really helping with that as well as with their education.
“The 12 young people all decided it was a really great opportunity for them and they wanted to be involved.”
One of the mentees is an 18-year-old Sudanese boy, who left his country at the age of 15. His journey to safety in Loughborough was long, painful and full of terror – and even included a period of time in a Libyan prison.
Roz said: “The tutoring sessions have really improved his use of the English language, his self-confidence and also his motivation for a brighter future.
“He told me: ‘I really like going to the University. When I do not know something I can ask my tutor and they help me. They help me understand.’”
Mentoring has been taking place at the University on Monday and Thursday evenings. The sessions consist of focused activities tailored to support the mentees, some of whom have the equivalent English speaking and writing age of an eight-year-old.
Financial Mathematics student Liam Wiltshire, 18, and Physics and Mathematics student Selma Uskuri, 21, volunteer as mentors.
When asked why, Selma said: “I wanted to be a role model and help make a difference to a student’s life by helping them enjoy a subject and possibly inspiring them to take it further.
“Seeing my mentee progress and understand problems they initially found difficult is great.”
Liam commented: “I’ve always enjoyed teaching my three younger sisters so an opportunity to do so with the University was more than welcomed. It’s the mentee’s genuine desire to learn that makes it enjoyable.”
The tutoring project is being trialled until June and then the progress will be reviewed. If successful, it is hoped to be carried on into the next academic year.