Meet our volunteer mentor: George Jones
George, we are so happy to have you as part of the City Year West Midlands team. Can you tell us a bit about your journey to City Year?
At the time of applying for City Year I had also sent my application to another organisation. However, after attending the City Year assessment centre, which to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed, my mind had been made up. So when on the following day I received a phone call from the recruitment officer, Beth, offering me a role at City Year, I accepted there and then. The way I was made to feel comfortable from the moment the assessment day started, and how the City Year programme was sold to both myself and other interviewees, was enough for me to decide that City Year was the placement for me. As a result, I turned down my alternative option by declining their offer of an interview, such was the impact Ollie and Beth had made during the assessment day.
Well, we are thrilled you joined our team George. With such a wonderful start, has City Year UK lived up to your expectations? What do you find tough — and equally what do you find rewarding about the programme?
I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at City Year so far, much more than I had originally expected. All the clichés of ‘finding out more about yourself’ and ‘discovering what you are capable of’, that you repeatedly hear during the training programme at City Year really are all true. It has been a year full of surprises, from the activities that we partake in as a whole cohort on a Friday, to the rewarding work we embark on during our time at our designated schools from Monday to Thursday. You are always made to feel part of a team and are encouraged to go outside of your comfort zone; which whilst daunting is also an exhilarating feeling. The sense of achievement you get from working closely with your focus list children, seeing their academic and social progress throughout the year, makes any negatives that you may face all worthwhile. Yes, the early mornings may be a struggle, the uncooperative minority of children who do not want to engage in learning may be infuriating, and the awkwardness of a variety of new environments; from walking into a classroom to be greeted by rows of gawking faces, to the social politics of the staffroom, and the weird and wonderful world of the Edgbaston Community Centre where we gather as a cohort; but all of this is worthwhile when you face the challenge head-on and embrace the year ahead.
What would you say to other young people considering signing up for City Year?
If you want to be challenged and push yourself, doing something outside your comfort zone, then City Year is for you. You will be surprised to learn just how capable you are when you are thrown in at the deep end. A placement at City Year offers you the chance to learn just how much you can achieve and give you an idea of the skills you have, making it easier to choose future career paths.
George, what would be your best bit of advice for anyone considering joining the CYUK programme?
Whether a student at University or having just finished college, City Year is the place to push yourself and reap the rewards of making a real positive impact on our society.
Outside of the day-to-day work in school, you develop a real camaraderie with the rest of the City Year cohort. I have had the great honour of being a part of the inaugural City Year football team, CYFC, who ‘Rep the Red’ every Thursday evening, before letting everyone know on the following day just how great we are. I play with a smashing bunch of people, and we have all become great friends, and we will be sure to continue the CYFC legacy long after our service year is over.
Thank you George for sharing your experience! If you want to find out more about becoming a City Year UK volunteer mentor, visit us at cityyear.org.uk/join.
City Year UK
Our 18–25s are changing the face of education as mentors and coaches in UK schools. Read their thoughts, stories and much more. #BeTheChange