Business people have volunteered to act as mentors to help transform the lives of disadvantaged youngsters in Dorset.
They signed up for the scheme to offer guidance to young people in care, which is the first initiative to be organised under the Dorset Chamber’s new Life Skills project.
Now they will undergo training before being assigned to help a young person – usually in their teens at school or college – with life skills and business coaching.
Organisers praised business people for the overwhelming response to an appeal for mentors at a launch event.
Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “We had an incredible response which exceeded all expectations.
“It was inspirational to see so many busy people volunteer their own time to help make a difference to young people who have not had the best start in the life.
“We are very grateful to everyone involved and look forward to a very successful programme.”
Careers and employability experts Ansbury Guidance, which is leading the mentoring project for the Chamber, held a workshop at Merley House near Wimborne.
It included talks by mentor Brian Townshend and Tom Trenowden, post-16 education officer at Bournemouth Poole and Christchurch Council, as well as Ansbury Guidance chief executive Nicola Newman.
Nicola said: “The life chances of young people in care and care leavers are significantly worse than for young people in general.
“We are looking forward to the training phase of the mentoring programme but there is still time for anyone interested to get involved.”
More than 20 people immediately expressed an interest in becoming mentors at the launch.
All of the potential mentors will be Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked. DBS checks assist in ensuring that the most suitable people are appointed to roles working with vulnerable groups.
Dorset Chamber, the county’s voice of business, launched its Life Skills initiative at a ball earlier this year to mark its 70th anniversary.
The Chamber, Dorset’s leading business support organisation, has more than 700 members employing nearly 37,000 people.
Visit https://www.dorsetchamber.co.uk/about-us/dorset-chamber-life-skills/ for more details.
PICTURE CAPTION: MENTORS: From left mentor Brian Townshend, Ansbury Guidance chief executive Nicola Newman and Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling