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Highland charity DAY1 is looking for volunteers to mentor young people and help them make better life choices


By Alasdair Fraser

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The Prince and Princess of Wales visited Inverness Kart Raceway in November to meet DAY1 mentors and their young people. Picture: Callum Mackay. Picture: Callum Mackay.
The Prince and Princess of Wales visited Inverness Kart Raceway in November to meet DAY1 mentors and their young people. Picture: Callum Mackay. Picture: Callum Mackay.

An award-winning Highland charity is looking for volunteers with a desire to help vulnerable young people make better choices in life.

DAY1, based at the Kart Raceway social enterprise at Fairways Business Park in Inverness, has a proud track record of transforming the lives of children on the cusp of adulthood through mentoring.

The charity's growing renown was underlined in November last year when the Prince and Princess of Wales paid a visit to explore its work and meet with mentors and young people.

Since the pandemic, the charity’s founder and managing director Corrin Henderson has witnessed a growing need for the service offered by his staff and volunteers.

There has also been a noticeable change in the nature of the work.

“For many years, the young people who would come to us would typically have challenging behaviour at school and in the community,” Mr Henderson said.

“And yet, they always seemed to have a real spark of energy you could work with, very effectively, as a mentor.

“It was misdirected, perhaps, but it was helpful because a mentor could seek to channel that energy better and direct them towards making better life choices.

Corrin Henderson, the charity's CEO
Corrin Henderson, the charity's CEO

“Nothing has changed in terms of the positive directions we look to point our young people, but what has changed is that it feels, broadly speaking, like they are less socially equipped.

“The need for the one-to-one mentoring service we provide is as great, if not greater than ever, but we’re also encouraging group mentoring which can be easier for some young people.

“Commonly, we are seeing individuals who are actually quite academically able and quite well-supported at home.”

The change means the charity’s work is no longer mostly about helping youngsters who have disengaged educationally and who may be veering towards trouble in school and elsewhere.

Often, those they deal with now are doing well enough educationally, but seem to lack zest, motivation and social skills.

“Because of the times we live in, gaming, social media, cyber-bullying and online pornography are all things they are having to cope with,” he explained

“It feels to me there is a malaise and a hopelessness among some of our young people.

“In the years that we’ve been doing what we’re doing, I’ve seen brilliant examples of what the willing attitude and big-hearted generosity of our mentors can do for a young person at a crucial, formative period of their life.

“It is something that is desperately needed, critically needed I’d say, by our young people.”

Mentors are fully vetted, trained and supported by DAY1 and, where possible, care is taken to match the young person with the volunteer.

People from many different walks of life volunteer, with the only prerequisite being a desire to impart life experience, while listening and understanding the challenges faced by the young person.

Typically, before the pandemic, DAY1 oversaw around 30 one-to-one mentoring relationships, but that number has since fallen.

In addition, though, around 20 young people come to the racetrack, which helps fund the charity, for small group mentoring.

Peter Tolmie
Peter Tolmie

Pete Tolmie (29), a senior solicitor with the firm Brodies in Inverness, is mentor to a 15-year-old boy and has found it a fulfilling experience.

“I first heard of DAY1 at the end of 2022,” Mr Tolmie said.

“It just so happened that one of my colleagues lived beside DAY1’s CEO. I realised it was something I really wanted to get involved in.

“As a solicitor, we do help people but I wanted to make an impact more directly, particularly to a young person.

“I’m still fairly young at 29, and I’ve made lots of my own mistakes. I felt I could use that experience to help someone make better decisions.”

Mr Tolmie’s young person is reacting positively to six months of mentoring.

“I’m with a teenage boy. He wasn’t going to school when I was matched with him. He had been excluded for the whole year,” he said.

“He’s a great kid, very intelligent, and very positive and enthusiastic. He’s very polite and mannerly, but just has a lot of energy. That energy was maybe just being channelled in the wrong directions.

“I don’t actually know why he was kicked out of school, I don’t really need to know.

“But the aim was to try and get him back in.

“It was just about trying to get him to think more about his actions and how they could affect his own future.

“I’ve been with him since May and he’s got back into school. I’m not saying that was down to me, but I’ve been trying to guide him and maybe subtly trying to get him to change his behaviours.

“He really doesn’t have a bad bone in his body, but he maybe just didn’t have that role model or extra guidance in his life. I’m in regular contact with his mum and she is very positive about my involvement.”

As well as making a difference to a young person’s future, Mr Tolmie stressed the mentoring role brought its own rewards.

“I really enjoy it – it can be a lot of fun," he said. "We meet most weeks, when we can, and we’ve built up a good relationship and rapport.

“He’s definitely opened up a lot more in the last couple of months and is probably being more genuine in his behaviour. We’ve definitely formed a bond and his family is fully on board as well.

“It has taught me a lot about myself and the importance of actively listening as I try to engage with him and understand his behaviours.

“Listening is probably the number one thing.”

Anyone interested in becoming a DAY1 mentor should contact the charity here.


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