Our Head of Operations (Income and Communities), was the first mentor to take part in our reverse mentoring collaboration with Runshaw College.

Tola, Head of Operations (Income and Communities) was paired with Runshaw College student mentor Jay as part of a Reverse Mentoring pilot.

Both share their positive experience of reverse mentoring.

Jay and Tola have been mentoring each other on a monthly basis since the beginning of 2022. Jay, who is studying at Runshaw, was the first student to join and complete the Reverse Mentoring scheme, which extended to a work placement opportunity for her with the Group.

What is Reverse Mentoring?

Reverse mentoring recognises that there are skills gaps and opportunities to learn on both sides of a mentoring relationship and flips the traditional format on its head. Reverse mentoring is not about a senior person taking someone under their wing but a formal relationship for the purpose of skill sharing and professional development.

The following testimony was published by Runshaw College and is a wonderful example of positive partnership working.

You can read Jay and Tola’s full story below.

For Runshaw student Jay, being mentored by Tola taught her a lot about people in challenging situations and how they can still form comforting communities as they help each other in the worst of times. The mentoring extended to a work placement opportunity, which also showed Jay another side to housing – the side where people aren’t in it for their benefit and how it is upheld surprisingly by lots of volunteers. But Jay also made a new role model, and ,more importantly, a friend, Tola – a woman who, Jay says, has truly opened her eyes to the hardships faced in local communities and how there are great ways to help.

Whilst on placement, Tola and Jay visited Orchard Grange, a housing scheme for independent living. They saw first-hand the incredible work done to allow people to live in a brilliant community with coffee mornings and gardening spots. After her visit, Jay shadowed the reception team at Sumner House, where she was talked through the intricacies of applying for housing and how the current backlog of applications due to the housing crisis has affected people's lives.

Jay’s experience also included a visit to the Community Shop at The Base Community Centre in Leyland, where people pay £2.50 and pick out 10 food items for the week. Jay was humbled to see people truly creating a brilliant community, even more so considering the events throughout the week are run mainly by volunteers. Jay then shadowed the Community Safety Officer – he explained the importance of having someone who can diffuse situations and allow tenants to live in peace.

Tola explained how she has really enjoyed working with and getting to know Jay and understanding more about the pressures our young people face now. Tola was impressed by Jay’s great understanding of equality and respect for people. Jay also taught Tola the ins and outs of Tik Tok! And Tola now uses it to help with her work!

For Tola, doing the shadowing with Jay re-emphasised why she works for the Group – from the great work we do in communities helping people, to recognising the great people she works with and the real difference we make to people’s lives.

Tola said that every time she met with Jay she went away having learned something new. In one session, Jay and Tola talked about jobs in housing and some of the job titles used by the Group. “They sound a bit formal” said Jay, “there’s a lot of Officer roles – this title may put people off, but they actually help people”. This really got Tola thinking more about how the Group could attract younger people into a career in housing.

For anyone that is thinking of getting involved in the Reverse Mentoring scheme, Tola said, “Please do, you will learn so much – simply by just talking. Huge thanks to Jay and Runshaw College for giving me this opportunity”.

This article was originally published by Runshaw College, and you can read the full article on their website, here.

Progress Housing Group and Runshaw College are currently in discussions about running the Reverse Mentoring scheme again.