By Rebecca Araujo, Maymunah Kathrada and Daisie Moore
⏱ Thursday 12th May 2022 

Maymunah, Daisie and Rebecca are tutors with us, and are former members of our Outreach Team. For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, they were asked to reflect on their experiences of this year’s theme of ‘loneliness’ and making connections through tutoring. Maymunah reflects on the power of a team to counter loneliness, Daisie discusses how tutoring with Tutor Trust has brought her closer to a network of tutors, and Rebecca reflects on her own experiences with mental health. Thank you, Maymunah, Daisie, and Rebecca, for sharing your experiences.

Maymunah’s experience

“This year's theme of ‘loneliness’ resonates with me because as a student nurse I had the privilege of experiencing placement in an older adult discharge ward. Every morning I would begin my shift by taking the time to speak to all the patients before breakfast arrived. This, for me, highlighted the epidemic of loneliness as I found that just that brief conversation would mean so much to them.

“During COVID-19, visiting was restricted, which meant that some patients did not see their family members for weeks. I saw how something as simple as a card, flowers or even a few snacks, could make them happy. I saw the transition from the previous day's sadness to the next day's happiness because of a few kind words from family and friends who were remembering them and wishing them a quick recovery.

“It is extremely important to talk about one's mental health as by doing so we can help reduce the stigma that surrounds the topic and open avenues for people to gain the help they need without feeling ashamed or alone.

“In tutoring sessions, I have a sticker chart reward system. I initially created this as a way to praise pupils and motivate them to do better. More recently I have discovered that the impact of this system goes further than that, as it makes the pupils feel like part of a team. They like seeing their name next to their classmates’, they like discussing how many stickers they each have, and they do their best to not let a fellow classmate be left behind. They go out of their way to help their classmates so that they will all have around the same number of stickers.

“It’s lovely to see, and I believe it helps reduce loneliness, as it creates a team bond between the pupils who want to help each other succeed and as they have the collective goal of doing really well in their SATs.”

Daisie’s experience

“As we move past a strictly digital world post-lockdown, loneliness is prevalent everywhere we go. With young people having been identified as one of the many groups needing greater support in relation to loneliness, initiating conversations about mental health has never been more essential. I believe that we should all be encouraging young people to understand that mental health is important to us all, and that we all need to learn skills to be aware of how to look after it. 

“Working for Tutor Trust, I’ve learnt that tuition is not just about academic development or growing in confidence with subject-specific knowledge. I think that The Tutor Trust also helps tutors and tutees form and maintain meaningful social connections.

“I’ve made many friends through tutoring on assignments – whether it’s grabbing a coffee after classes, catching the same bus to a school, or chatting at events and meet ups. It’s the same for the tutees too. Tutees are able to interact with different members of their school community and make friends from outside their usual social circle. Most importantly, tutoring the same group of young people over a significant period ensures that strong connections can be made. Seeing a group of students develop academically, socially, and emotionally over the course of a 15-week programme is what makes working for The Tutor Trust so rewarding.”

Rebecca’s experience

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have moved away from student areas, and my partner has returned to work on cruise ships, so the theme of loneliness is very close to my heart. It is incredibly difficult to tackle as it can feel daunting reaching out when you feel this way.

“Campaigns such as ITV’s ‘Britain Get Talking’ really encouraged me to do this and tackle my own issues with loneliness. It is more important than ever to continue talking about loneliness as the effects of isolation in the pandemic are still widely felt.

“It’s important to talk about mental health as it’s easy to ignore an issue or convince yourself that it isn’t there. Unlike a broken leg, you can’t see depression, anxiety, or any other mental health condition. By talking about our experiences, we encourage more people to identify what they’re feeling with how others are. For example, I was able to seek out help for anxiety after talking to a friend who had been through a similar experience and found relief in finding help.

“Tutoring with Tutor Trust has helped me immensely. To be able to leave the house and interact with my tutees amidst the various lockdowns and restrictions was such a blessing. I felt like I was doing something to alleviate the effects of the pandemic on my tutees. Part of my tuition sessions have always been checking in with the young people I work with. We often talked about loneliness in our sessions and how we enjoy interacting with others. This helped them to progress.”

At Tutor Trust, we really value the efforts of our tutors every day. Mental health is important to us all year round, and our tutors can get in touch with us any time to talk about anything regarding their tuition, or wellbeing. If you are a tutor and would like any advice, or for someone supportive to listen to you, please get in touch.

Date of publication: 12/05/2022