Husband and wife, Hugh and Judy Griffiths, volunteer as maths and English tutors with the Rendezvous in Yeovil.
What do you do for The Rendezvous Youth Charity?
Judy: ‘I tutor one-to-one English and Hugh tutors one-to-one maths. We both joined Rendezvous in 2016. I initially joined as a mentor, then that developed into tutoring when a young person came along and said he needed his English so he could go to university. I thought I could help him, and even though English isn’t my subject I felt I could do this.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the learners you work with?
Hugh: I’ve tutored 6 young people of all ages since I started. Right now I’m tutoring a young mum in her early 20’s who is very keen and is considering going into nursing. During lockdown we started online learning in the morning when her baby was having a nap and we are continuing online because it suits her life to be flexible.
Judy: In September 2019 we both started tutoring a Syrian refugee in her early 20’s with 2 small children. She has had the disruption of lockdown, but we just heard that she has passed both English and Maths level 2 which we are so over the moon about. She’s very focused on going to university to do IT.
How would you describe the role of a one-to-one tutor?
Hugh: ‘There’s often a reason why the young person was struggling in school in the first place – it might be bullying, or poor mental health, or loss of a parent, or simply couldn’t get on with school life – but there will probably be something. Gradually you do get to know the person and it’s a great privilege to be able to help them get on with their life. It is really nice to feel you might have helped them’
Judy ‘It’s about developing a rapport – being non-judgmental, willing to listen, encourage and praise even for the smallest of things. Saying ‘well done’ is really important, so the young person feels more and more that you’re on their side – you are there for them and believe they can do it’
What do you get out of your role as a volunteer?
Judy: ‘It’s a complete joy for me seeing the young person achieve – the same joy as I had for teaching. It has honestly been the highlight of my week especially over covid’
Hugh: ‘For me it’s the pleasure of helping the young person to get on with their life whatever struggles they’ve had or are having.’
What background did you both have and what made you get involved?
Judy: ‘I had taught for 30 years and loved my job as a teacher and a counsellor and had settled into retirement and felt ready for something new. I read a Rendezvous leaflet and thought straight away this is the time and the place – I’m now going to act!’
Hugh: ‘I saw the leaflet too, and I thought I should do this as well. I trained as a teacher but then went off in a completely different direction and thought that I’d like to get back to some teaching.’
Do you have to be or have been a trained teacher do you think?
Judy: ‘No not necessarily. It’s one to one, so you don’t need to know how to handle a classroom. The tutors work together and share resources and advice. I tutor English but I taught social sciences and English isn’t my subject at all – it’s probably the thing I had least confidence with at school! So if I can do it then most people can!’
Hugh: ‘The qualification is called Functional Skills and it is very practical. It relates Maths to everyday life, such as comparing special offers in shops, or working out how many tins of paint are needed to paint a room. So no, as long as you have a reasonable level of English or Maths yourself and common sense you can do it I would say.
Judy: It’s more important to be able to build a rapport and show kindness than anything.
What’s it like being part of the Rendezvous?
Judy: It’s a privilege to be part of The Rendezvous. We love belonging to the group of volunteers – Julie the Learning Manager is an absolute star. And it’s something we’ve been able to enjoy together as a shared interest.
Hugh: I’ve found myself being the IT ‘expert’ for all the other 20 or so tutors, so I am very involved. In lockdown we had to go online using software supported by the IT department at The Griffon school. My background in industry probably helped me get the hang of it quite quickly, so now find myself helping the other tutors, especially the new ones!
What would you say to someone thinking of being a tutor ?
Hugh: If you have an interest in helping youngsters this is a practical and worthwhile way to do it. The functional skills qualifications prepare people for life – they learn to apply the maths and english skills that they need.
Judy: Give it a try – you might be completely brilliant!
If you would like to get involved, find out more and get in touch on our Tutors page.