As 2023 draws to a close, it’s the perfect opportunity for us to take stock and reflect on what has been another big year for Brightside. It’s also time to look to the future and share what we’ve got coming up in 2024 to make sure we keep helping young people make confident and informed decisions about their futures.
We turned 20 in 2023! We don’t have an official birthday (no charity is founded in a day), so we marked the occasion by celebrating the power of mentoring across the whole year.
In January, we proudly shared that more than 150,000 young people have benefitted from our online mentoring programmes so far. We worked out that over 4 million messages have been exchanged between mentors and mentees to date and that 60% of mentees across our history have been from areas of multiple deprivation.
March saw the launch of our anniversary website, complete with an interactive timeline showing the big events in our history over the last 20 years. Click on the moving balloons to discover when we ran our first STEM mentoring programme, launched Bright Knowledge (our hub of articles for mentees and mentors) and supported our 100,000th mentee.
The website is also home to stories from our longest standing mentors about what online mentoring looked like in 2003 (the verdict: a bit like teletext) and updates from mentees across our history sharing the transformative impact that mentoring had on them.
May’s milestone was the publication of our annual impact report that showed Brightside mentees did 4.8 grades better in their GCSEs. Alongside this academic success, they’re twice as likely to get into uni, and twice as likely to complete their courses.
Next we shared our first of two anniversary videos, delving into the power of mentoring through the eyes of those who’ve been a part of Brightside’s history. The second, shared just last month, showed how good advice lasts a lifetime, as mentees and mentors discussed the best piece of advice they have ever been given.
We published another report in September, this time from Spotlight, our careers programme for schools. This year, we worked with more than 10,000 pupils in 22 schools to shed light on their future education and careers.
But the biggest celebration was our awards evening in London in October. We gave out six awards to young people, mentors and partners in recognition of their effort and commitment to mentoring. Our CEO and Chair of Trustees gave powerful speeches about how mentoring changes lives to around 120 guests, from partners to young people. You can read the stories from the winners here and here.
The focus of this year of activity has been to showcase the power online mentoring has to change young people’s lives. We’re not saying mentoring can change lives, we’re saying mentoring does change lives. We’ve got the impact data and the words of young people to prove it.
But we’re not stopping here. We’ve got big plans for the next twenty years, starting next year when we’ll be rolling out video mentoring – fully integrated into our online platform – as part of our offer. It’s something we’ve been working on for a while, particularly to make sure our chosen option meets our highest safeguarding standards. We’ve found a solution that we’re really excited to share.
Thanks for supporting Brightside throughout 2023 and celebrating our anniversary with us. Stay tuned for what promises to be a bright 2024!