Neil says that due to his awareness of socio-educational inequality, and his personal pathway through the school system, he is passionate about supporting young people from less advantaged backgrounds. Neil is wonderfully approachable, and the young people feel this when he attends Academic Support sessions. He is known for his calm, effective and diligent approach, he is often asked for by older students, especially in relation to English, humanitarian and career-based work. Neil is a wonderful role model for our young people, and clearly understands the importance of timely and appropriate support for our students.
When asked what he most enjoys about volunteering with IntoUniversity, Neil replied:
Meeting students, hearing from them, but it is really the academic side of it that I find interesting. I am still interested in education. My own subjects were not STEM subjects; I was an arts graduate myself, a history student. So history, English language, those were the things I specialised in in school. So those are the things in which I have some expertise, and…the sort of thing I am confident talking about and sharing. I think the thing that is most satisfying is [when] you actually achieve something academically – a piece of homework gets finished, or there is a structure for an answer so they can go off and write [it]. I can leave the session thinking “[Yes], that’s something the student can actually go away with, and will be valuable to them”.
Regarding the skills he has gained through volunteering with IntoUniversity, Neil commented:
I think listening to young people, having the patience to listen is very important and one of the things that always struck me in journalism and in communication generally is how few people actually let [others] finish their sentences, and…are actually listening to what other people are saying. So getting more practice and more experience listening to people of their age, has been very helpful to me and very instructive.