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Fiza Sheikh, City Year Greater Manchester, 2014-15

Volunteer mentor in uniform

Growing up was a challenge for me. My mum is a single parent and I have four younger siblings, so I was required to help out from a young age. I didn’t really enjoy school and was constantly bullied. My responsibilities at home meant that I couldn’t spend time with friends outside school, which left me feeling isolated.

I was looking for opportunities to volunteer in my local primary school when I came across the leaflet about City Year Manchester. The more I learnt about the programme, the more I wanted to be a part of it. City Year was offering a chance to tackle the barriers that children face on a daily basis in their education, and having faced many of these barriers myself I was extremely passionate about doing something to help others in the same position.

My biggest highlight has been the progress I’ve made with some of the teenagers in my school. They will now ask for help rather than refusing to do anything and subsequently being sent out of the classroom. Dealing with behaviour issues has definitely improved my leadership skills and confidence, and I have also learned a lot about the different approaches to leadership from my mentor. On a personal level, I am so much more confident in my abilities and a little more comfortable in my own skin; I find myself able to challenge others in a way that I wouldn’t have done before.

City Year is allowing me to make a real difference to children’s education while giving me valuable experience for my future career, hopefully as a teacher: a good one that is able to impact every child in the class for the better.

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