Auchterarder man Daniel Bland is a mentor for a Perth pupil who is experiencing challenges at school.
His role, like other volunteers, has become a crucial aspect of school recovery during the coronavirus pandemic.
The 37-year-old contemporary arts student has been matched with an S3 boy at Perth Grammar School through local charity MCR Pathways mentoring programme.
The pair have been meeting for one hour per week since Easter where they bond over similar interests such as video games, martial arts and music.
Building a bond
And thanks to their mutual bond, the mentee has been able to open up about some of the school issues he faces.
Now, the charity hopes stories like Daniel’s will help attract 150 new volunteers who can be trained in the life-changing skills by the new school year starting in August.
Upon the completion of his honours degree at Perth UHI next year, Daniel wants to pursue a career in secondary school teaching or art therapy.
His own negative experience at school in England in the early 90s attracted him to the voluntary role as he hoped to make sure no teenager went through a similar journey.
Daniel said: “They can talk to me about virtually anything they need to talk about. It could be personal, educational or any troubles they may be having in their life.
“I’m there to support them and make them feel comfortable as someone they can talk to.”
At the beginning, my mentee was very nervous, they had a few school issues. Looking back now, he has calmed down quite a lot.”
Voluntary school mentor, Daniel Bland.
Both Daniel and the teenager were anxious in the beginning but after finding mutual interests, they were able to communicate freely.
And his mentee’s confidence had grown throughout their months of working together, which Daniel says is “great” to witness.
He said: “At the beginning, my mentee was very nervous, they had a few school issues. Looking back now, he has calmed down quite a lot.
“He is very open now whereas before he was very closed off.
“He talks a lot more about issues that are happening around him and it’s great to see.”
Call for volunteers
The scheme, which launched in Blairgowrie High School, Perth Grammar and St John’s RC Academy in January, helps young people who have experienced disadvantages to find their path.
Success is measured by pupils’ rates of staying on for fifth and sixth year, attainment and progression to positive destinations.
Encouraging others across the region to volunteer, Daniel says the mentorship can bring a “huge sense of pride and achievement”.
No experience is needed but it can take two to three months to go through the steps to become a mentor so the charity are keen for volunteers across Perth and Kinross to sign up as soon as possible.
Further information on how to become an MCR Pathway mentor is available at www.mcrpathways.org