Louise is the Responsible Business and Social Impact Manager for our corporate partner CMS. She has been volunteering for The Access Project since November 2019. She admits that, given her current role, she might be more biased towards volunteering but she believes that “knowing the firm was endorsing the programme made me want to do it even more.”

CMS is really great in that all staff are encouraged to spend up to 50 hours a year on volunteering and pro bono activities”

CMS has been in a partnership with The Access Project since 2012 and has provided over 2,300 hours of tuition in this time – Louise recalls what made her decide to volunteer.

“I joined CMS in 2019 and, in my role, I coordinate CMS’s volunteering activities. It would be impossible for me to try out every programme but I was interested to volunteer for The Access Project. I knew it was something which would take me out of my comfort zone and allow me to revisit History, which I studied at university. It was an opportunity to give back and knowing the firm was endorsing it made me want to do it even more.” 

Further showcasing CMS’s commitment, she says: “CMS is really great in that all staff are encouraged to spend up to 50 hours a year on volunteering and pro bono activities.” 

Our partnership with CMS aligns with their education and social mobility focus within their social impact programme. 

When asked how the partnership impacts employees, she responds: “There is something really empowering, our volunteer tutors enjoy tutoring something that they’re not doing in their day-to-day jobs. They are helping young people to become ready for work, education, apprenticeships or whatever they want to go on to do.” 

Tutoring – the commitment and the rewards

Louise finds managing tutoring around her other commitments straightforward because of the transparency. “It’s about knowing that you are committed to an entire academic year, for an hour a week, plus any needed preparation.” 

When asked what she would say to someone who was on the fence about tutoring, Louise replies: “There are resources out there, be confident in your own knowledge and just give it a go.” 

Tutoring is a lot more than just about academic improvement to Louise. “It’s about empowering a young person, giving them confidence. It goes beyond the subject being taught, it teaches students to have engagement on that professional level, instilling professional language.” Louise believes that our programme helps to develop other skills in young people including: time management, communications, compromising and negotiation skills.

“My first student was Eshika. It was great to see these changes in her in a very short space of time – she went from a girl terrified to come into central London and enter my office building to a month later, marching up to Reception thinking ‘I belong here, I can be here.’”

The effects of COVID on tutoring – online vs in person

Louise has had the opportunity to work with two students, one pre-COVID and one post-COVID. The lockdown has been a challenging time for everyone and has influenced the way tutoring is being conducted. 

“Tutoring has only taken place online with my second student, and I’ve found it to be a completely different experience, a different teaching style,” she explains. “I’d been volunteering with my student since the start of the academic year and she really struggled when the schools were shut during the third lockdown. I was glad to be able to give her that stability during a difficult time. It gave her and me structure.”