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When the kids came to visit…

By OVO Energy Thursday 02 March 2017

Since October last year, a group of us have been giving up some of our spare time to mentor children at two primary schools in South Bristol. We work with the kids once a week to improve their literacy and numeracy, as part of a programme aimed at helping these children – who, for whatever reason, need a bit of extra support.

Mentoring at OVO Energy office

So far, some of the children (and their teachers) have noticed a huge improvement. They’ve come on more in two months than they did the whole year previously! And all of the kids have had a real confidence boost from the scheme. So we thought what better way to celebrate their success than inviting them all down to our office for the day.

 

We know these kids are capable of great things and we want to inspire them. We want to build on the relationships we’ve made so far. And give the children a chance to see what their mentors do at work. Yes, we may look like a boring old energy company, but our office DOES have a giant slide and a treehouse in the middle of it.

OVO Bristol office treehouse

We hoped to show them that work can be fun and that their mentors are people they can look up to.

OVO staff with kids from Mentoring scheme

Let’s hear from our mentors

 

Camilla is one of our Trading Process Analysts and has been volunteering since September 2016. What do you think the kids most enjoyed about the visit, Camilla?

Going down the slide. Obviously!

How do you think mentoring and the OVO visit has helped them?

The mentoring improves the kids’ reading skills, and the visit lets them see how school lessons (even boring ones like maths) can be put into practice in real life.

What was your best moment from the visit?

When my reading buddy made me go down the slide and he thought it was the funniest thing ever.

 

Business Intelligence Analyst Claire, who is one of the Number Partners, tells us what the children she works with thought of OVO

The children I mentor really enjoyed their visit to OVO and keep asking me whether they can visit again! They loved going down the slide and it seemed that a few of them already knew us as a company. One of the kids said her mum had come in for an interview. And when we were doing a quiz about OVO, some of the children knew what ‘going to the shop to top up’ meant so they could obviously relate.

And our Customer Content Executive Harry shares what he’s learned from mentoring

I've learnt a lot of interesting things in my time at OVO. But not as many as I’ve learnt from being Reading Buddies with a very smart, very funny 10-year-old girl. So far I’ve learnt:

  • How to stand like a hunched old man (there was a hunched old man in the book we were reading and she taught me how to stoop like him).
  • That it’s an hour and 20-minute drive from Witney to Legoland Windsor. She was going that weekend and journey time was a key fact I had to know.
  • That, not all grown-ups read in different voices for different characters and, if you do, kids find it hilarious.
  • The word 'whom' is pointless if it basically means 'who', but you're just adding an extra letter, which takes longer (that was her opinion on 'whom').

One of the most eye-opening things I've discovered, though, is the range of reading abilities in one class. My Reading Buddy liked reading Roald Dahl but this was slightly above her level, so we switched to easier books with pictures. Once, when she was away, I read with another boy from her class, who was reading The Neverending Story (quite advanced) and he was absolutely bossing it. With abilities this varied, it can be tough for teachers to provide enough support for all children.

 

When Reading Buddies started, the girl I read with was shy and struggled to focus on more than a page a time. Now, she’ll confidently talk me through her weekend, what she's done that day and what's happened so far in the book she's reading. It's a rewarding programme, which the team always look forward to. And it's just an hour out of the week on a Wednesday lunch – a small price to pay to hear some of the most fascinating insights from our 10-year-old friends.