As our mentoring projects finish for the Christmas break and mentors head home for a well-earned rest, we’ve been reflecting on what has been an extraordinary year for Citywise.
Every year is special at Citywise but this year we’ve proudly celebrated a number of first steps. We delivered our first project curriculum grounded in research and best practice in the fields of mentoring and positive psychology and significantly updated our training for mentors, including a new series of talks helping them think about ‘The Good Life’ and how to live it. We had our most successful fundraising campaign to date, with 70 volunteers running, cycling, swimming and baking their way to £12,000. We won a prestigious grant setting us off on a 2-year partnership with the University of California. And finally, a beautiful gift from a former mentor allowed us to realise a dream of our founders as we opened the doors to our very own Citywise Centre.
Research-based character mentoring This year we worked with 104 children across 7 projects in 2 cities! Our unique approach of character mentoring gives young people the tools to succeed, not just in school, but in all areas of their lives. Our curriculum guides them to develop emotional emotional wellbeing, healthy relationships, become socially engaged and feel empowered to take hold of their dreams and make a positive difference in the world. To do this, our programme helps young people develop in seven key areas: self-knowledge, a growth mindset, goal-setting, resilience, self-control, good judgement and fairness.
The Good Life As part of our commitment to help our volunteer mentors grow and develop just as much as the children they work with, we continually review and improve our training. Earlier this year, with the support of our new chaplain (and co-founder of Citywise!) Fr Joe Evans, we launched a series of discussions about ‘The Good Life’ and how to live it. Mentors engaged with questions about ethics, virtue and the formation of character, reflecting on the application of these ideas both in their mentoring relationships, but also personally.
The seminar has given us an opportunity to talk and discuss topics that we can apply to our lives and to our mentoring activities! – mentor
#citywise214 Our annual volunteer-led fundraising campaign took a different format this year as the two Citywise hubs joined forces and swam, ran, cycled and baked the distance from Manchester to Glasgow (214 miles). Over 70 people took part and together raised a whopping £12,000 to help sustain our mentoring projects. Thank you!
California dreamin’ In February we heard the news that we had won a prestigious award from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California. The two-year partnership provides us not only with funding, but the support of experts to develop a programme of support for families, alongside our existing work with children. Can it possibly be a coincidence that this iconic song is by The Mamas and The Papas? I think not!
Launching the Citywise Centre
This summer we were able to realise a dream of our founders, as for the very first time we ran a summer camp at our very own Citywise Centre in Manchester! For many years our offices have been in the basement of Greygarth Hall, a student residence run by the Catholic organisation Opus Dei. It was staff and students living in the residence 24 years ago who ran the very first Citywise summer camp, and who always dreamed of having their own centre in order to directly support disadvantaged families and young people. And it was another student, Pedro Ballester, who inspired a new partnership between Citywise and Greygarth.
Pedro was a lay member of Opus Dei, and lived in Greygarth for the last two years of his life as he battled with bone cancer. In between spells of treatment he was a dedicated volunteer mentor at Citywise. In fact someone he mentored has gone on to become a Citywise mentor himself!
Just before his death in January 2018, Pedro asked his family to release a significant sum of money that had been raised for his cancer treatment, and donate it to Citywise at a time of serious financial need. This miracle was literally a breath of life to our organisation, and we know that we continue to enjoy Pedro’s support in prayer, as well as inspiration from the example of his life. A new long-term partnership between Citywise and Greygarth has given us the possibility of transforming our existing basement offices into a fit-for-purpose family centre that will be dedicated to his memory.
Looking ahead There’s more to come in 2019, and there are always more ways in which we can improve our work of nurturing young lives. We hope that as you read about the year gone by you’ll be stirred to think about the ways in which you might be able to play a role in the Citywise family in the years to come. We’d love to welcome you!