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Volunteer with secondary schools in the east and the south east of England

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: East, South East & London, Zzz archive
Upper Shirley
Upper Shirley

The Engaging Our Secondary Schools programme combines low-cost, cross departmental volunteering opportunities for civil servants with personal and career development whilst making a difference to young people’s employability prospects. This project is made up of a team of 6 civil servants (1 team leader and 5 student mentors) who work with a group of students at GCSE level. The students attend a 2 hour class each week for a period of 6 weeks to experience a working environment and learn skills such as: writing a CV, interview techniques and completing and completing job application forms. Here’s what a recent team experienced:

Linda O'Hagan from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) told us:

I've developed skills and gained confidence in coaching and mentoring skills as well as delivering these imaginatively and sometimes at short notice! Although I already possessed skills in delivering workshops and presentations, it was a developmental opportunity to adapt these skills to a different audience. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to keep the participants’ attention and retain their interest. It was beneficial to work with a colleague from another department and find out how others work. The team has had to work together quickly to establish a plan of action and divide tasks.

Having the opportunity to use my initiative has been valuable and given me confidence to consider another similar project or to repeat this one as well as to make suggestions in my own workplace where I may have previously kept quiet. Having recently come out of redeployment, I enjoyed using this opportunity to refresh my interpersonal skills and to offer interactions that were entirely positive. I think the business will benefit from my increased confidence and willingness to put forward new ideas. I may feel more inclined to collaborate across departments as well, and would like to pursue this area of development. There may also be a benefit as I've been reminded how much I can get done in a short space of time.

Civil Service Local has enabled the project in a short space of time, putting a great team together and speaking to schools, their persistence in advertising the project has been effective for me; had I not seen it in so many weekly updates rather than just in one newsletter, it may have passed me by.

Linda O'Hagan
Linda O'Hagan

Rhonda Third
Rhonda Third
Rhonda Third from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) a student mentor added:

I feel this experience has helped me personally. I feel I have grown in confidence and have realised that working with teenagers can be very rewarding.

I would encourage my staff to consider taking part. I have enjoyed networking and working with other government organisations and have learnt a lot from them.

Tracey O’Connor from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) student mentor commented:

The reason I volunteered to take part in the programme was to progress my career into a management role. To achieve this I needed to gain more experience in the Managing and Leading and Collaborating and Partnering competencies. This opportunity enabled me to develop and gain valuable experience. It gave me the opportunity to contribute to planning and to take the lead. I worked effectively alongside other government colleagues and have built strong relationships that otherwise I would not be in a position to do.

Tracey O'Connor
Tracey O'Connor

June Shearing
June Shearing
Team Leader June Shearing from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) summed up by saying:

The opportunity to work with people from other business streams and departments and bring them together has given me the chance to see how I could fit into another department. It has also given me the opportunity to lead a group of people and delegate. The team feel the following successes were shown:

  • personal development and confidence, especially with delivering at pace, by the mentors
  • students took away not only a good CV but increased confidence in their ability
  • many students were able to see skills that they already have, but have not been highlighted before, which was quite an ‘eye opener’ for them and to speak more confidently

If you think that you would enjoy the same challenges as shown by this team or would like further information please contact:

Annie Fisher for Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Bournemouth

Kelly Stevens for Kent

Silo Monekosso for Oxfordshire:

Pamela Ponen for Surrey:

Elizabeth Levy for Berkshire:;

Donna Donaghey for London:

and Ian Barton for the East of England:

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  1. Comment by Julie Whittingham posted on

    The link for Annie Fisher above does not work - says page not found! Can you let me have an e-mail address or contact for her please.

  2. Comment by June Shearing posted on

    I was project leader on this occasion and I can tell you it was a great experience. Some of the youth thought very little of themselves but with the support of a great mentor team some left feeling 10 feet (just over 3m) tall and others certainly a few inches. Would highly recommend people to undertake this type of volunteering and if youth scare you - don't worry just go for it!!!

  3. Comment by Diana Connor posted on

    i would like to get involved with this but note there isn't a contact for Sussex...would it be possible to work with either the Hampshire or Surrey team please? I had been involved as a project leader before but feel I would not be able to commit to this again but would really like to be involved as a student mentor.

    • Replies to Diana Connor>

      Comment by John Mark Haskey posted on

      Hi Diana, good to hear of your interest. I am looking at how we can organise more school work in the areas you mentioned and will add you to my contact list. Hope to be able to provide you with more info soon. Can you supply me with your work email address please to