Liam Byrne, MP for Hodge Hill, visited Marlborough Junior School in Small Heath in his constituency to see how City Year Birmingham is enabling young people to make a difference to pupils’ lives and their own. Part of youth social action charity City Year UK, City Year Birmingham launched in 2013 and began its partnership with Marlborough Junior School at the start of this academic year. The school benefits from a team of seven full-time City Year volunteers who are integral to the school day.

The charity gives 18 to 25-year-olds the opportunity to volunteer full-time for a year in primary and secondary schools across Birmingham, supporting pupils as mentors, tutors and role models. The City Year experience also helps its volunteers to realise their own aspirations and grow as leaders, both through their impact on children’s lives and training, coaching and career development opportunities, supported by local businesses.  More than nine out of ten of the charity’s graduates are in permanent paid work or full-time study just three months after completing their year.

Mr Byrne met with Headteacher Mohammad Sajjid Sarwar and pupils to hear about the impact City Year volunteers have had on them and the school as a whole. Following a tour and a chance to see the volunteers in action, the local MP took part in a roundtable discussion with the young volunteers to understand what motivates them to give a year of full-time voluntary service, how they support the school and its pupils and what they’ve got out of the experience.

Liam Byrne MP said: “It was a pleasure to visit Marlborough Junior School and see the strong partnership it has forged with City Year UK. The commitment and dedication of the City Year Birmingham volunteers is truly inspirational and it's fantastic to learn about the huge impact they are having on the lives of children in my constituency - helping to raise aspirations and attainment. 

"I am also passionate about reducing youth unemployment in our community and across Birmingham and believe that the invaluable skills that City Year's young people are developing through volunteering, along with the coaching and networking opportunities this programme provides, gives them a formidable foundation from which to build their future careers."

Mohammad Sajjid Sarwar, Headteacher at Marlborough Junior School, said: “Our school prides itself on the values of mutual care and respect which extend across all areas of school life and beyond. City Year have helped to improve the academic performance, behaviour and attendance of a number of our children through near peer mentoring, classroom support, and the wider curriculum that they run, and we look forward to continuing the partnership next year.”

Anna Barnard, 22, has spent the last year volunteering at Marlborough Junior School with City Year Birmingham.  She said: “City Year hasgiven me some fantastic experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Getting to help pupils on a daily basis has given me the opportunity to get to really know them, and provide them with additional support as a near peer mentor to push them to the next level. The whole year has helped me develop my skills and confidence which will really help when I start my career as a science teacher."

Sophie Livingstone, Chief Executive of City Year UK, said: “We are thrilled that Liam could visit Marlborough Junior School and see the difference our volunteers make to children every day. Our programme is evidence of a double benefit in action. Our volunteers help improve the attainment, attitude, attendance and behaviour of pupils and, through their year of service, our young people gain invaluable frontline experience, access to new networks and proven leadership skills, that will help them secure the career they want.”