(2 minute read)

In February this year, after the success of our first online half-term camp, the Manchester team launched an Online Mentoring Club, holding weekly sessions with up to 20 children and 10 volunteers.

We are so excited to have now returned to in-person mentoring again, welcoming families back to the Citywise Centre according to government guidelines and Covid-secure procedure. 

We’re big on reflection at Citywise…

After each topic, we always pause to consider what we’ve covered and how it has resonated with us. So, to take a page out of our own mentoring curriculum, now feels like an opportune moment to pause and reflect on our online experience and the lessons it taught us. 

At the beginning, the biggest challenge we faced was communication. Aside from the usual tech issues of microphones cutting out or cameras not working properly, ‘good manners’ takes on a different meaning with online activities! It is easier to unknowingly speak over peers, harder to know when you’re being listened to and sometimes difficult to know exactly what’s going on when you’ve got 30 people in the main room of a zoom call at once! 

But we started off as we normally do with in-person mentoring groups. We agreed on a set of guidelines – listening to each other, being respectful, being kind – and promised to stick to them. We are proud of what we achieved: we created a space for positive relationships to grow, allowing us to work through our curriculum with a growth mindset and a good deal of laughter and fun thrown in there too. 

The online sessions were “very much needed during lockdown…they gave the children the space to build friendship and resilience”

We adapted the mentoring curriculum for online breakout rooms and worked through activities in small groups. We broke these up with lots of games. It was all about sensory variety! We played a lot of musical statues and ‘guess the picture’ games which worked wonders. It kept us all (mentors and mentees alike!) energised, awake and engaged in the topics at hand. 

Moving to in-person mentoring has been hugely rewarding

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of online mentoring in Manchester. Families have told us the online sessions provided a helpful opportunity during lockdown for children to connect with others and feel valued, and some even prefer an online setting. As with so many other things, the pandemic has shown that new ways of working and learning are possible, and at times, beneficial. It has certainly been a valuable learning opportunity for us at Citywise…so watch this space for things to come! 

Online sessions provided a way for their child to “connect and feel valued outside the home during lockdown.”