Get Mentoring

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Mentoring Monthly caught up with Ashley Whittley (pictured), development manager of UnLtd in Northern Ireland, to ask her how working with Get Mentoring has helped them provide support for social entrepreneurs. Find out more here.

In October, the UK’s leading provider of support for social entrepreneurship, UnLtd, welcomed entrepreneurs into its Belfast office as it hosted one of the many Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring workshops held across the UK. The company invests in hundreds of individuals every year by providing advice, mentoring, networking and funding ‘Awards’ to enable the growth of social enterprise. We asked development manager Ashley Whittley, who arranged the workshop, why she was keen to promote the Get Mentoring scheme. She said,

“In the three and a half years I’ve been doing the job, I’ve seen how important a good mentor can be to entrepreneurs. I came across the Get Mentoring initiative through the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) e-zine and then met with some of the team at Youth Enterprise Live at Earl’s Court. It instantly caught my eye because the scheme is a fantastic way of pulling experienced business men and women together from all sorts of different industries and making them available for start-ups. For organisations that work with social entrepreneurs and youth entrepreneurs such as ourselves, it means we know there are people out there who not only know their business skills, but are trained in the best way to share that knowledge.”

Through mentoring organisations and resources such as the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE) website, start-up businesses can access newly-qualified mentors to support them through those challenging early stages – something Ashley believes has been lacking until now:

“It’s been quite frustrating, if I’m honest. It feels like this kind of volunteering with new business owners has been slow to catch on in Northern Ireland. And it’s been quite disjointed. But as a result of the workshop I’ve met mentors prepared to be involved and support NI UnLtd’s award winners. One thing that the scheme has done is to add a bit of credibility to mentoring. It ensures that mentors know the best ways to provide the support and assistance based on their depth of knowledge and experience. And being able to say that you have been part of the scheme is recognition from an established body that mentoring is important.”

Ashley’s role as business development manager has required her to mentor extensively herself, but she jumped at the opportunity to build on her core skills by attending the course:

“I found the training to be a great refresher and a confidence booster, personally. I know I’ll be referring back to the manual again and again. And the opportunity to network is always welcome – I’ve actually had someone offer to mentor me as a result of the workshop so that I can build on my own professional development.”

Posted on by getadmin | Posted in Case Studies, Get Mentoring Monthly