Mentoring: both sides of the story

Over recent months, BBM Youth Support has undertaken a pilot mentoring program, pairing this year’s awardees with willing volunteers from our alumni community.

Feedback from past awardees told us that our young people would appreciate more support to plan their trip abroad, so we decided to trial a program connecting this year’s awardees with someone who has been in their shoes.

Horticulture awardee Joel Smith is fortunate to have two past horticulture awardees to turn to for advice. We asked them all how the process was going, and this is what they said:

Joel: “The two mentors I was assigned shortly after receiving my award are both very supportive.

I have spoken once with each of my assigned mentors, both conversations were over 30 minutes long and very positive. It was great to meet other past awardees in person at the awards night, they’ve since become my mentors as well.

My mentors help me to understand what I can achieve with this Award, it’s a great joy and inspiration to hear about their experiences abroad and at home. They have provided me with several useful contacts, and some great stories.

I’m still in contact with a number of them as my plans build.

My mentors have suggested some great locations for my trip, but I’m most grateful for the advice I’ve received on communicating with people in the UK. Without the support of my mentors I wouldn’t have the confidence to ask people directly for opportunities.”

Josh: “I had a good chat with Joel on the phone, which I think he found helpful. I stressed that he is able to change his plan and that he needs to be flexible enough to follow opportunities that will present themselves when he is in the UK. Joel mentioned he was interested in doing an internship at somewhere like RBG Kew or RHS gardens at Wisley and I suggested he look to do this early in his trip as it will open lots of doors and make a lot of connections, and I also gave him a connection of mine who worked at Wisley Gardens a year before I was over there. “

Andre: “Joel seems like an excellent young man who I was happy to help. He was confirming his timelines and places to visit and I was able to give him some advice. I have suggested to him that he can call me any time to discuss as his plans develop.”

We’re really grateful the wonderful past awardees who have willingly given their time to support another young person. If you are a past awardee and keen to get involved, please email

12th December, 2017

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