Mentors make apprentices feel at home at Cestria
Published by Kelly Elliott for Cestria Community Housing in Housing and also in Communities
Cestria’s staff mentors pictured with some of the young mentees they are looking after as part of their new role.
A mentoring scheme designed to help apprentices at a North East housing association settle into their new roles is having some positive and unexpected results.
County Durham landlord Cestria Community Housing decided to set up the innovative internal scheme as a way of helping existing staff gain new skills and new staff feel welcome.
And it seems the project is already proving to be a success, with both mentors and mentees reporting a range of benefits.
Eight members of Cestria staff have already signed up as mentors and, after undergoing special sessions with local training company Rainbows End Coaching, have now been assigned an apprentice mentee.
Mentor Michelle Fortune, who works as an Income Management Officer at Cestria, said: “I thought the programme was a great opportunity for me to share my insight and knowledge that I have gained from my years of experience, not only at Cestria and social housing sector – but from the working world in general.
“Already it has given me a great sense of accomplishment and good feeling to see a young person flourish and know I had a part to play in that.
“It has also helped me relate better with my own teenage son, an outcome even I wasn’t expecting.”
The scheme has also been beneficial to the mentees, including Modern Apprentice Thomas Ramshaw, aged 18, who said: “The mentoring programme is a great benefit of my apprenticeship with Cestria. It is just brilliant to have someone I can talk to and share things with.
“It also helped me get to know someone outside of my own department, as I’m a bit shy and found it difficult to approach people I don’t know. Having a mentor helped introduce me to new people and new departments.”
The internal mentor scheme is open to staff at all levels, allowing them to hone their supervisory and mentoring skills to support their own career development, as well as providing invaluable pastoral care to apprentices and those on work experience.
The idea is one other organisations in the North East are keen to replicate. Elizabeth Scott, of Rainbows End Coaching, said: “Schemes such as this are great for staff retention, especially amongst apprentices and trainees, where there can be a significant drop out rate due to a lack of support.
“Mentoring is a great way of looking after people and it doesn’t just benefit the trainees, it’s a great opportunity for staff to take on a new dimension to their roles too.
“Mentoring is all about investing in people and we are already working with several other companies in the region who are planning on rolling out similar schemes - it is definitely something we expect to see an increase in over the next year.”