Mentoring | Bread Charity

Child poverty has many dimensions. How do we help guide kids on the right track.

Start Date: 2017 until 2020


The Bread Charity's mentorship program in low decile schools, specifically Wesley Intermediate and Avondale Intermediate, represented a thoughtful and practical approach to nurturing young minds. This program involved medical students volunteering to mentor children, dedicating weekly sessions over several months to provide guidance, support, and inspiration. At the culmination of these sessions, a unique and personal aspect of the program was revealed. Based on each child's interests and passions, the program gifted them items that would enable them to further develop their skills and hobbies.

Bread Mentoring

Mentoring students in low decile schools with medical student volunteers.

1.0 Abstract:

The Bread Charity's mentorship initiative, conducted at Wesley Intermediate and Avondale Intermediate schools, showcases a novel approach to empowering youth in low decile schools. This program involved a collaboration between the charity and medical student volunteers, who engaged in regular mentoring sessions with the students over several months. The primary objective was to provide guidance, support, and motivation, fostering an environment conducive to learning and personal growth. A unique aspect of this initiative was its personalized conclusion: each participating child received carefully selected gifts that aligned with their individual interests and passions, whether in sports, arts, or academics. This bespoke element of the program was designed not only to reward the children for their participation and progress but also to encourage the further pursuit of their hobbies and aspirations. By investing in the personal development of these students and recognizing their individual talents, the program aimed to instill a sense of confidence, ambition, and a lasting enthusiasm for learning. The initiative reflects Bread Charity's commitment to holistic education and underscores the importance of nurturing young minds with compassion, creativity, and tailored support.

2.0 Clothing Fund:

Teachers could write to us if they saw a student with a need for clothing/shoes. By enabling teachers to identify and communicate the specific requirements of their students, the program ensured that essential items like clothing and shoes were provided where most needed. This method not only facilitated immediate assistance to the children but also fostered a deeper sense of trust and collaboration between the schools and our charity. It operated with discretion and sensitivity, respecting the dignity of the students while addressing an often-overlooked aspect of student welfare. Moreover, the initiative contributed to nurturing a supportive and caring school environment, where teachers and students alike were reassured that their basic needs were being recognized and met. The feedback received from teachers through this program also provided invaluable insights, helping to shape and refine future initiatives to better serve the community. This clothing fund was more than just a means of providing necessities; it was a tangible expression of community support and empathy, ensuring that no child was left behind due to a lack of basic resources.

3.0 Difficulties:

Organizing the mentorship program in Wesley Intermediate and Avondale Intermediate schools presented significant challenges, primarily in terms of the considerable time investment required. Coordinating with medical students, who already faced demanding schedules, for regular mentoring sessions was a complex task. This complexity was compounded by the need for detailed planning, ensuring the volunteers were well-prepared for each session, and managing logistics like travel and scheduling. Additionally, scaling the program to include more schools and students introduced further complexities. It required not only an increased number of volunteers but also more resources and careful management to maintain the quality and personalization of the program. Securing adequate funding and resources to support this expansion, while ensuring each student received attention tailored to their interests, added to the organizational challenges. Thus, while the initiative was impactful, its scalability was constrained by these significant logistical and resource-related considerations.

4.0 Using what we learnt:

The experience of organizing the mentorship program in Wesley Intermediate and Avondale Intermediate schools was a valuable learning curve, significantly influencing the development of the studio and sneaker programs. One of the key insights gained was the importance of integrating initiatives into existing infrastructure, such as schools or community centers. This approach emerged as a critical factor in achieving scalability and sustainability.

This understanding led to a strategic shift in how future programs, like the studio and sneaker projects, were conceptualized and implemented. Rather than creating standalone operations, these programs were designed to 'plug into' the existing school and community networks. This approach not only facilitated a broader reach and impact but also ensured that the programs were more adaptable, resilient, and easier to manage over the long term.

By embedding programs within established institutions, we could leverage their existing frameworks, resources, and community connections. This integration meant that the initiatives could be maintained for extended periods without the need for extensive additional infrastructure or resources. It also allowed for more efficient use of volunteer time and effort, as activities could be aligned with the regular rhythms and schedules of the schools or community centers.

In essence, this learning emphasized the value of collaboration and integration with existing community structures. It highlighted that for initiatives aimed at tackling issues like child poverty and education, working in synergy with established institutions could lead to more effective and enduring outcomes.