A mentor is the person who can inspire you to be the best version of yourself, reach for your goals, and achieve your dreams

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Riley’s Story

Riley struggles with a stutter, something that frustrates him and leaves him struggling to express his emotions. When he would stutter, Riley would feel embarrassed and become very stressed and irritable… something that would only make his stutter worse. Struggling to cope with his emotions, Riley would often act out and lash out at whoever was around him.

Aged 10, Riley had attended Junior sessions for just over 2 years when he started mentoring. Throughout this time, he had developed relationships with many Youth Workers, all of which had noticed a considerable shift in his behaviour.

Having grown up in the social care system, Riley had been living with his Nanna for the past 4 years. Whilst he had recently been able to start up contact with his Mum, he was often trying to seek reassurance from female Youth Workers and developed stronger relationships with them, so when it came to being paired with a mentor, a female seemed like the natural fit.

When mentoring was first mentioned to Riley, he was very apprehensive about the situation but was also very open to having someone who could help him to find ways to better express himself and build his confidence, something that was plummeting the more he struggled in social situations. Having always been a really confident child who loved football and playing – he didn’t like the fact that he was stopping himself from engaging with other young people in case he needed to speak and couldn’t.

Once matched with his mentor, the shift was imminent. First setting tangible goals to build confidence and their relationship (like challenging themselves to reach the top of the climbing wall), they then looked at more intangible skills, different situations that would push Riley and different ways to manage his emotions.

About 3 months in to mentoring, the opportunity came up for Riley to be able to attend an all-expenses paid residential trip with 8 others his age. Riley’s first instinct was to say no (because talk about pushing yourself out your comfort zone!), but after discussions with his mentor, he agreed that it would be really beneficial for him to practice ‘preparing for new situations’ which they had been working on and increase his confidence in himself.

This residential was a huge turning point for Riley. When he returned, he couldn’t wait to tell his mentor how he had made new friends, climbed a mountain, jumped into the sea and much, much more. He was over the moon with not just the trip but how “I managed to do all of it”.

6 months later, the mentoring has come to an end, but Riley’s breakthrough moments continued. With his newfound confidence, Riley put himself up for a speaking role in his year 6 assembly something “I never would have done before”. On invitation from Riley through the Youth Zone, his mentor was invited to watch this moment and it was safe to say they both felt emotional after watching him SMASH it!

Riley’s mentor also then put him forward for an award at the Youth Zone, as a young person who had broken through boundaries – he went on to win it. Speaking to his Nanna at the event she said through tears:

“Mentoring was a game changer for Riley. This moment right now, it never would have happened without it. Did you know this is the first time I have ever been rung up or invited in for something that has been to recognise something GOOD – it’s an amazing feeling”.


Matt Hirst is the CEO of leading energy technology provider ESG with over 700 staff and operations in the USA, Canada and the UK. ESG’s UK headquarters are based in Chorley, Lancashire.


ESG empowers global leaders in energy to deliver on the future promise of energy through its SAAS solutions for Customer and Market Data Management and Smart Metering. Matt has a background in Sales and Marketing and led a MBO of UK company Utiligroup in 2014 before it was acquired by ESG in 2017 and has been with the business for 24 years. Matt won an EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2016 as well as being a judge in 2018 and in 2017 his team was awarded the UK Regional and National Mid Market Management Team of the Year awards by the BVCA. Matt holds a BSc (Hons) degree from The University of Salford and a MBA from Lancaster University.

Ryan powell

head of operations

Hi, I’m Ryan and I’m the Head of Operations at Inspire Youth Zone.