Solutions for the Planet: Big Ideas Programme - Meet the Mentors

At Mears, we aim to lead the way with Social Value, in the markets we operate, delivering lasting and meaningful outcomes, through progressive community engagement projects. That’s why for the fourth year running, we have partnered with Solutions for the Planet to be involved in supporting the Big Ideas Programme.

The Big Ideas Programme connects schools with business mentors, in a programme that generates motivation to learn about science, technology, engineering, maths and environmental issues – supported by companies that are leading in these fields.

Entrepreneurship, teamwork, business planning and public presentation skills are central to the whole process, as they aim to build career readiness and aspirational development in young people.

Customer Success Manager, Rob Chesman and Senior Repairs Supervisor, David Leonard describe their time as Mentors for Solutions for the Planet:

What does your role as Mentor Involve?

Rob: The Big ideas Programme encourages students to develop their own ideas to solve a sustainability problem i.e., plastic pollution and reduction in packaging.

As part of the Big Ideas day, Dave and I were on hand to provide support and encourage creativity amongst the students, to inspire them to “think outside of the box”, challenge their ideas and help see their projects through.

Dave: This is my first time being a Mentor, it’s been incredible to see the school’s dedication to the Big Ideas Programme. I have attended two sessions and have really been enjoyable – I have also been able to pass on my knowledge regarding the construction industry.

Why did you volunteer to become a Mentor?

Dave: I have previously volunteered to assist with student career days, supporting with CV writing and helping to prepare them for employment. I enjoy volunteering in schools, and therefore when the opportunity arose to be involved in the Big Ideas Programme – I jumped at the chance.

Rob: I have previous experience of working with colleges and universities but never at a school. I have an Environment Science Degree and thought I would put it to good use! I wanted to be involved with a project which would be different but also very rewarding – the Big Ideas Programme has certainly lived up to this expectation.

What is your favourite part of being a Mentor?

Dave: All the students are so enthusiastic. All the ideas are excellent, there really are no barriers to their ideas.

Rob: It’s great working with students in a fun environment, it’s different for the students too – they get to work in a non-structured way which differs from their standard school day. The ideas they have produced are excellent, and it’s great to see them 100% believing in their ideas. It’s also great to be involved with something different and add value.

What have you learnt so far as your time as a Mentor?

Dave: No idea is a bad idea; a bit of thought and imagination can go a long way.

Rob: Never underestimate the young mind, we could definitely learn a lot from them – they adapt far more quickly to the evolving modern world.