By Marco De Bianchi and Cailum Finnegan
⏱ Monday 19th December 2022

Cailum and Marco are two of our Full-Time Tutors based in Greater Manchester. In this blog, they share their experiences of the difference tutoring can make to young people’s mental health for Mental Health Awareness Week. Thanks for your insights, Cailum and Marco.

Cailum’s experience

“Loneliness and isolation are topics that I feel are particularly, and oddly, taboo when it comes to discussing mental health.

“Many people have struggled with feelings of loneliness throughout the pandemic, a direct consequence of lockdowns and public safety measures that limited the amount of social contact that they could have. I think that this forced isolation did a lot to bring the topic of loneliness to the forefront of mental health discourse, which is an important step forward but also left a lot of people confronted by an issue without an easy solution: how can I navigate my feelings of loneliness if I don’t have anyone to discuss them with? This to me is why it is important that loneliness is recognised as having a significant impact on mental health and is talked about openly, as this removes some of the burden on individuals to start the conversation themselves when they feel too isolated to do so.

“The loneliness induced by pandemic measures has been particularly jarring for young people, most of whom are used to a school environment and interacting with dozens of people every day. For some young people this served only to deepen a pre-existing feeling of isolation.

“As a tutor who works with vulnerable young people and Looked After Children, I have felt that it has been a particularly valuable aspect of my tutoring role for me to be able to provide a sense of stability for the young people that I work with. They know that they will see me each week and that I am there to support them. The nature of my role also means that I have an opportunity to get to know my tutees as we establish our relationship in the early weeks of an assignment. This allows me to converse with the young people and to contextualise what we do with their interests and passions. This seemingly does a lot toward these students feeling validated and heard, which in my opinion is a crucial and often-overlooked role of the education system for the young people that it serves. My students know that the time that they have with me is THEIR time, and that their needs matter; it may only be for an hour per week, but if being heard in that hour does anything to mitigate their feelings of loneliness then that makes this the most important job in the world to me.”


Marco’s experience

“This year’s theme of ‘loneliness’ is something that resonates with me. Loneliness is something we have all experienced in our lives and it can slowly pick at our self-worth and belonging.

“The feeling of loneliness is something people struggle to talk about as there is this idea that loneliness is only for recluses or people who lock themselves away from the world. Loneliness is experienced in a room full of people. It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matter. The feeling of value that these relationships can bring that makes you feel connected.

“As a male in my 20s, I have experienced issues with my mental health as have many people in the UK. Having a close support network enabled me to open up about how I was feeling, share my concerns, fears, and work through them. Sadly, that is not always the case for everyone, and I have known young men who felt unable to turn to anyone before it was too late. Being able to express that you are struggling is not an admission of weakness but a sign of strength and accepting you need help is a courageous act. Normalising talking about your mental health can save lives.

“Tutor Trust creates an environment where young people can feel they are a part of something special. The holistic approach taken by tutors encourages unique relationships to form, which can help provide security and make tuition a safe space for the young people they are working with. In particular, the Right Angle project aims to foster an increase in pupils’ academic confidence, social-emotional capabilities, wellbeing, and sense of belonging. When young people feel a sense of belonging and connection to their tutor, they are motivated to participate more actively in classes, but most importantly, they feel valued.”

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 with your School Coordinator or Ellie Cross ([email protected]), your Tutor Engagement Coordinator.

Date of publication: 10/05/2022