Jemma Akers, Youth Mentor
When did you start working for Ongo?
I started in 2017. I always wanted to work with children - I
had studied primary school teaching at university and then
I became a Teaching Assistant. However, it got to the stage
where I wanted something different.
What does your job involve?
My role first involved youth mentoring in Winterton but,
after a few months, I then began to work in Westcliff. I saw
straight away that it was a really positive community with
nice, friendly people, and that some children in the area
just needed support and nurturing. I help provide positive
activities for children, and give them mentoring, support
and opportunities to thrive.
I also go to local schools to deliver talks in their assemblies,
and to give one-to-one mentoring to secondary school
students who may be lacking confidence, being disruptive
etc. I attend career days to promote the support on offer,
and all of this links into raising the aspirations of
What is your favourite part of the role?
It's definitely the one-to-one mentoring - you see the child
in a completely different light to how they may be in front of
their friends. You get their honest emotions, true feelings,
and ultimately get to know the real person.
It's a role where you feel like you're making a true
difference to their lives and futures - I just try to get
to the bottom of their issues and help them as much as
possible. I have a genuine care for them, and I always
try to be a positive role-model for any child I see.
A day in the life of...How much have you learnt and developed in the job?
I've learnt so much. It's important to treat everybody as
an individual and establish trust before anything else.
You can then start engaging them in positive activities,
building their confidence, and helping them with goals
for the future.
I've learnt that there's always a reason for people's actions,
and not to judge them based on what they may have done in
Do you have an inspirational story about somebody
I once saw a 16-year-old who hated college, and who had
low mood and no confidence - he didn't know what he
wanted to do. I mentored him for around eight weeks along
with providing apprenticeship support, and I found out he
liked computers. An apprenticeship opportunity in I.T came
up and, despite him initially thinking he wouldn't get it, I
encouraged him to apply.
He ended up getting the apprenticeship. I saw him a couple
of months ago, and he's a completely different person.
He's so much more confident and ambitious - he said that
one door had opened, and now a corridor full of doors and
opportunities are opening up for him.
As part of the Raising
73 young people accessed
and 19 school sessions
What's the biggest
challenge that you have
faced? Recovering from a
What's your favourite
TV programme (past or
What's your favourite
Getting Mr Blobby's
autograph and giving
him a hug. I met him a
number of years ago at
Blackpool, where he and
Jason Donovan were
What was the last
holiday that you went on?
Alaska last year for two
weeks - it was such an