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Saajidah Begum, City Year Greater Manchester, 2016-17

Saajidah  volunteered in Greater Manchester in 2016, following her A Levels. Through City Year she found her passion for working with children who need extra support.

“I discovered City Year through my college careers adviser after a rough couple of years dealing with bereavements on top of the stress of going through college. I like to believe I was previously a confident, sociable and ambitious teenager and I thought I had my future of being a teacher mapped out. But, after what happened, I found it almost impossible to speak to anyone and withdrew myself from almost all social situations. I lost all confidence in myself and in my dream of working in education. My losses happening when they did, meant I viewed education and learning as something negative, something to stay away from.

“Through City Year I rediscovered why I wanted to work in education and why I wanted to work with children. I was able to gain confidence in myself after seeing the positive impact I made on these children. And what an impact they made on me! I found a passion for working with pupils who may require extra support (I am now a 1:1 TA for a child with SEN) and I realised that I much preferred the pastoral side. I fell in love with supporting children on a more personal level throughout their school life. So that’s exactly what I have been doing ever since.

“My team will always have a special place in my heart. Their constant words of reassurance and encouragement pushed me to be the best mentor I could be. I admired that we were all so different, yet we found common ground in our passion for tackling educational inequality and I knew, very early on, that it would be the start of a very special friendship.

“I think my City Year teammates would agree when I say that my confidence levels from joining, to the end of my year of service, grew dramatically. Although it was shocking for others, it felt normal to me. I felt like myself again – the better version of myself.”

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