The Mentoring of: The Lion King

The Lion King is another movie that needs no introduction. Like Toy Story and Mary Poppins, it is a staple which holds together the childhoods of millions of people around the world. Based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Lion King has launched two sequels, a remake, and a hit Broadway and West End musical that is still going strong today. It is also a great film that focuses on mentoring the young and moulding them into future leaders.

Heir to the Throne

Simba and Mufasa, voiced by Matthew Broderick and James Earl Jones.
No copyright infringement is intended.

The protagonist of the film is Simba, a young lion cub born to the king and queen of the pride. Being a child, Simba is of course impatient, hyperactive, and is easily distracted. His father, Mufasa, teaches Simba about his future role, claiming that “everything the light touches in our kingdom” and that one day “the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.” When Simba inquires on a patch of shadowed land, Mufasa orders his son never to go there.

Naturally, Simba is excited about being king and believes it means he can do whatever he wants, though Zazu, Mufasa’s right-hand bird, tries to correct him. Simba also disobeys his father and ventures into the shadowy land, the Elephant Graveyard, earning him a strong ticking off from Mufasa afterwards.

Straight away, the film shows that although his elders are teaching him valuable lessons, Simba chooses to not listen to them, instead listening to his uncle, Scar. Easily manipulated, Simba places himself in dangerous situations that later lead to a very dramatic event.

A Life of Lies

Timon and Pumbaa teaching Hakuna Matata to Simba.
No copyright infringement is intended.

Tricked by Scar into a gorge, Simba is faced with a stampede of wildebeests that ultimately ends in Mufasa dying after Scar betrayed him. Simba is traumatised by this and believes himself responsible, fleeing the pride lands, and getting found by Timon and Pumbaa, two best friends living in a jungle paradise and who teach him to let go of his worries. Unfortunately for him, Simba meets his childhood sweetheart Nala again and learns the tyranny Scar is imposing as king.

Although some might criticise how quickly Simba seemingly recovered from his father’s death, the fact he refuses to return and stop Scar shows how deep the event has effected him, damaging his mental state and is torn between doing what is right for him and right for the lion pride.

Simba is an echo of those who experience loss, especially at a young age. People will often chose to block out the harsh reality by throwing themselves into happier activities and distractions. However, not everyone can do this and fall into sadness and depression. It would be interesting to see what would have happened if Timon and Pumbaa hadn’t found Simba.

Long Live the King

Uploded by HD Clips.
No copyright infringement is intended.

With Rafiki the baboon’s assistance, Mufasa’s spirit comes to Simba, telling his son he has forgotten who he was and therefore forgetting his own father. Simba is more than who he currently is and must take his place as the rightful king. Simba is left now determined to face Scar, but he is also scared of his past. Rafiki offers some wise words; Simba can either run away from his past or learn from it.

This relates to many of us. All of us have made mistakes in the past, some bigger than others. They can be hard to accept, but learning from them can lead to success, because people learn from their mistakes, allowing them to become more confidence and intelligent. Simba’s mistake was that he fled, when he should have stayed.

Having learnt from his mistake, and with his new found courage and help of his friends, Simba topples Scar and claims the throne, leading the pride into a hopeful future and becomes a father, continuing the Circle of Life.


Simba returns in The Lion King 2019 remake.
No copyright infringement is intended.

The Lion King is a film that has created not only wonderful mentors, but also a brilliant young person (or should that be animal?). Simba’s adventure from childhood prince to adult king captures the experiences many go through in their early years.

It teaches us to always listen to your elders (apart from evil lion uncles), to never give into your mistakes, learn from the past and use it for the future, and never forget who you are or where you come from. Too many people fail to confront these lessons and this sets them up for failure.

But if you choose to forgive yourself, be proud of who you are, and take the advice of others and heed their warnings, you can become a leader the likes of which Mufasa and Simba were and are.

Starting Point Values – Calum’s Experience

Hello everyone. I’m Calum and you might remember me. I’m the one who pumps out all those blogs like the one you’re reading right now. I’m also a volunteer and mentee at Starting Point. I haven’t done a blog about myself since the launch of the new website, so I think it’s time for a little update.

Recently I wrote three blogs about Starting Point’s key values and have decided to conclude the small series with a finale from my own view and experiences. Without further ado, let’s get started.


If you don’t remember, Unlocking is the value of finding a young person’s potential and fulfilling it through tailored support.

It’s a common theme with me that I cannot see my own potential. Many people say I have it, from Sam the Project Manager, my two mentors, and even my driving instructor. They all say I have the potential to succeed, perhaps greatly, if I simply have confidence in myself. However, it’s hard to see something about yourself that everybody else can.

My personal experience with Unlocking has been more through finding my personality group and being given new opportunities such as writing blogs and articles that have truly allowed me to see that my potential is in writing and anything to do with the English language. My confidence has also risen, so maybe that can be part of Unlocking as well.


Enabling is the value of sustaining a positive change so a young person can achieve their goals.

As I mentioned them before, the blogs for Starting Point and other opportunities have enabled me to keep writing and share them with a wider audience. I have also had the chance to interview people, both inside and outside Starting Point, and they have been nothing but kind and supportive, exactly what a person with low confidence needs.

When I first came to Starting Point, I was very shy, negative, and lacked motivation. But because of the Enabling value, Starting Point has caused me to become more outgoing, take a more positive outlook on life, and has given me motivation because only through them have I finally decided what I want to do for a job/career. If that’s not sustaining, then I don’t know what is.


Releasing speaks for itself, but I’ll happily explain it again. It’s the value of releasing a young person from mentoring into a bright and happy future.

Unfortunately, I am still a mentee and therefore cannot talk a lot about Releasing, though I have experienced it is one way. I have recently changed mentors. You’re now perhaps thinking that I did something terribly wrong and my previous mentor no longer wanted to work with me. Well calm yourself because that’s not true at all.

I was released from one mentor to another because we all agreed the time had come to put our foot on the accelerator a bit more and change gear. If we’re talking about Releasing in terms of car gears, then Releasing is gear five, with gear four being employment.


Looking back over almost two years of mentoring, I can see how Starting Point has used the three values to help me along the way. I don’t think underestimating them is a possibility, especially when each one is tailored to each individual Starting Point helps.

There’s still a journey ahead, but I feel we might reach that final gear quicker than we thought, and when it does come, perhaps I will use those values for people I might one day train or mentor.

You never know, right?

The Mentoring of: Toy Story

There isn’t a millennial alive that doesn’t know Toy Story. Not only did it capture the attention and imagination of millions of children, it provided valuable mentoring lessons that everybody must go through.

A Cowboy and a Spaceman

Woody and Buzz Lightyear played by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
No copyright infringement intended

The series follows a host of different and unique characters, but it mostly focuses on two of them: Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Woody is introduced as a control freak and leader/mentor of the toys kept by Andy, the boy who plays with them and who Woody is devoted to making happy.

Buzz Lightyear, on the other hand, believes he is a space ranger completely and not a toy. He is also someone who likes to play the hero and quickly makes friends with his fellow toys. This makes Woody jealous because he feels his position as leader and Andy’s favourite is fading away.

Over the course of the films, it is Woody who learns more lessons than Buzz. He becomes more accepting to change and less judgemental, though his loyalty to Andy sometimes gets in the way of his development.

Time to Say Goodbye?

Stinky Pete, Jessie, and Bullseye in Toy Story 2.
No copyright infringement intended

Woody is later stolen and at his kidnapper’s home, Woody meets Jessie, Bullseye and Stinky Pete, all of whom are cowboy toys and have been waiting years for Woody to join them. It is here Woody discovers his origin, being the protagonist of an old black and white television programme called Woody’s Roundup. He also learns that his kidnapper is a collector and that all of the toys, including Woody, will be sold to a Japanese museum. Pete tells Woody that Andy will grow up soon. Isn’t it better to be somewhere where he can last forever and not worry about being forgotten?

Although tempted at first, Woody convinces them to return with him to Andy, though Stinky Pete ultimately tries to ensure they go to Japan. Back home, Woody tells Buzz his is no longer worried about Andy growing up and states that when the time does come, he will have his friends there to keep him company.

It finally happens years later and the toys are forced to say a sad farewell to Andy, though they are passed onto a girl named Bonnie who loves her toys and plays with them like Andy used to.

Left Behind

Lotso and his henchmen in Toy Story 3.
No copyright infringement intended

Pixar is brilliant at inserting adult themes into their movies. Each one has an underlying message and in Toy Story, it’s the fact everybody grows up and gets rid of their toys. This is brought to attention in the second and third films through Jessie and Lotso, the villian in Toy Story 3.

For Jessie, she was purposely abandoned by her owner, unable to come to terms with this fact. However, unlike Jessie, Lotso was accidentally left behind and upon returning to his owner, learns he was replaced. This changed him into an uncaring and tyrannical toy, choosing to make other toys’ lives a misery instead.

These two characters echo similarities that happen to young people throughout the world. Whether on purpose or by accident, they are left behind across various forms, such as education. Whilst many will become like Jessie, some will go down Lotso’s path and will turn to crime, especially if they have nowhere to go and think prison is a better choice.


Woody and Buzz return in Toy Story 4 with friends old and new.
No copyright infringement is intended.

Toy Story is a film series that rarely happens and is full of great mentoring knowledge and life lessons. It teaches us about how teamwork is vital for success, that leadership must sometimes be shared to create a better place, to accept others no matter their differences, the loyalty between friends, and above all else, how change doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Randy Newman’s famous song You’ve Got a Friend in Me could easily be the theme song for Starting Point, though I think Disney and Pixar would have something to say about it.

Watch the four films and you might pick up advice that could not only help you but others too. So take your mentoring (as Buzz Lightyear would say) to infinity and beyond!

Starting Point Monthly Update – January/February

It’s time for our monthly update. This time is a double update, detailing what Starting Point was doing over the months of January and February.

Activities include:


3rd – Transition Mentoring at Reading Girls School

6th – Transition Mentoring at UTC.

22nd – Attended a ‘Brighter Futures for Children’ voluntary sector market place. A fantastic opportunity that has led to an increase in referrals.

23rd – Funding Bid Accepted – Allowing us to scale up as a project in a 3 year to refine, grow and replicate the project. Including hiring a new team member.

26th – Planning Meeting for our 2019 Social groups. – First one to start on the 13th March.

28th – A Mustard Tree get together – A chance to catch up with the other projects and prepare for the New Year.


1st, 7th and 21st – 4 new Match Meeting – matching young people to their new mentors in our Traffic Light Mentoring Programme.

11th – Red Balloon – Mentoring presentation for 3 students taking part in our Transition Mentoring.

14th – Assisted 2 young people to attend the London Irish Hitz Programme.

18th – Started advertising for the new role – Mentoring Lead.

25th – Young person and mentor photo shoot – This is for our new brochure.

25th – Young person feedback meeting – We want to tailor our project to the young people we support, giving a voice to local young people.

26th – Mentor Supervision – An opportunity for our mentors to learn from each other in their mentoring.

Thank you to all involved in the activities above. Look forward to our March update next month and all future blogs over the coming weeks.

Starting Point Values: Releasing

Starting Point has three values that make up the core of the project. They are Unlocking, Enabling, and Releasing.

Eventually, the time comes where the birds must leave the nest. There is no telling when they will fly because people move at different speeds, but when they do, ensuring they have the best start possible is a must.

Releasing a young person from their mentoring with Starting Point can only be done after Unlocking and Enabling are completed. Without them finished, moving onto Releasing would not yield the best results and could hinder a young person’s potential future jobs and careers.

In some ways, Releasing is like school. Teachers teach you valuable knowledge that will help you reach future achievements, but schools cannot teach you forever. One day, the time comes when students will leave to forge the next chapter of their lives.

Stepping away from one thing into another can be scary. But there’s no reason to be if you can hit the ground running. That’s what Starting Point does, helping young people run and then letting them out the door into a bright new world.

The best part about Releasing is watching a young person go forward with confidence and courage, knowing they can see the opportunities available to them and can grab them.

Starting Point Values: Enabling

Starting Point has three values that make up the core of the project. They are Unlocking, Enabling, and Releasing.

The definition of Enabling is to give someone the authority or means to do something. In the case of Starting Point and mentoring, Enabling means giving young people the chance to make and sustain positive change in their lives.

There is no guideline to how these changes are created. Everybody has a different view of what is positive. In terms of mentoring, even just small things that might seem insignificant to others can result in a massive positive change to those doing them.

For example, getting a young person with anxiety or low confidence to apply for jobs will be tough, especially if they have a negative outlook. Therefore, focusing on smaller things that build their confidence and to overcome their anxieties can change their negative views into positive ones.

To ensure these positive changes are made and kept, Starting Point can set up a variety of different opportunities. These can be activities such as simply giving young people the chance to talk to someone, setting up voluntary roles which give experience, and mock interviews to allow young people to practise and improve their interview skills.

Through Enabling, Starting Point and mentoring can help make positive differences not only to job/career aspirations, but also to mental health, self-belief and more.

Starting Point Values: Unlocking

Starting Point has three values that make up the core of the project. They are Unlocking, Enabling, and Releasing.

Unlocking, the focus of this blog, means that every young person has potential that can be unlocked and fulfilled. The methods of unlocking potential can be different for every mentor and mentee. These methods could include things such as playing to a mentee’s strengths or developing areas they can grow in.

Many young people have talents that they know nothing about. Starting Point and its mentors help young people find and unlock their talent through tailored support, meaning it is different for every mentee depending on what support they need.

Support from Starting Point could be simple things such as throwing leadership roles onto mentees, putting them in new situations they have never tried before. Often, young people only need to be shown they have potential for them to see it.

Starting Point also helps build on a young person’s potential. For example, if someone is very good at communication, Starting Point will support them in using that potential to further their future careers. Even a simple thing like writing blogs could lead to a job offer.

Ever seen the movie Sister Act? The choir all have potential to be beautiful singers, but only when somebody comes along and brings out that potential do they suddenly become confident and successful.

The first step on any journey of transformation is identifying potential, unlocking and nurturing it, and then seeing it fulfilled. Doing this can take time, but it will be a step taken towards a bright and more hopeful future.

Starting Point Yearly Update 2018/2019

2018 was one of our best years yet at Starting Point. Through the help of our brilliant volunteers and generous supporters, we achieved great things. These include:

  • Mentoring 51 new young people, 26 of whom have moved into education, employment, or training.

Looking ahead to 2019, Starting Point’s goals include:

  • Mentoring 60+ young people
  • Recruiting more volunteers
  • Setting up a ground floor hub to be used by mentees and mentors for mentoring.
  • Establishing the social groups and Transition Mentoring as regular programmes

We would like to thank everyone for their contributions to making 2018 a very successful year for Starting Point. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Roll on 2019!!!

The Mentoring of: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is one of the most beloved Disney films of the age, still being repeated on television and loved by audiences old and young. You could say it is practically perfect in every way. And with a sequel released, it’s the perfect time for a blog about the mentoring that takes place during the film.

The Characters

Dick van Dyke and Julie Andrews as Bert and Mary.
No copyright infringement is intended.

So where should we start? Why not with the main characters?

The first of our mains are the Banks parents. Mrs Banks is a passionate member of the Suffragette movement with a rosy but dreamy personality. Mr Banks is a quite important member of the Bank of England. He is a man with no vision beyond the end of his nose, meaning he only sees and hears what he wants to, leading him to care little about everything else.

The children, Jane and Michael, are in fact not naughty like most nanny stories, but merely unhappy and want some attention from their parents, who are more focused on themselves. This has caused them to become problematic and leave a long trail of nannies who have quit.

Mary Poppins and Bert are the complete opposite of Mr and Mrs Banks. They focus wholeheartedly on the children. They aren’t strict or get angry, often having smiles on their faces and joining in with the activities. She and Bert act more like Jane and Michael’s parents than Mr and Mrs Banks.

The Lessons of Mentoring

Mary Poppins, Michael Banks, and Jane Banks. No copyright infringement is intended.

Here we will go into the lessons Mary Poppins teaches us and how they are similar and apply to mentoring in the current day.

As I said above, Jane and Michael want their parents’s attentions but are failing to get it. They are constantly being rebuffed by an emotionless father and campaigning mother. This draws stark parallels to modern day parenting. Many parents are forced to work full time jobs to make ends meet, therefore unable to spend time with their children and making nannies or grandparents look after them instead. As in Mary Poppins, this leads to children becoming unhappy and can eventually make them rebellious, doing anything to get attention, even if it gets in them trouble.

Mary Poppins acts as a mentor would to Jane and Michael. She is the person who gives the children the attention they crave. This is one of the jobs of a mentor, to listen to a mentee’s concerns and also allow them the chance to talk to someone, even if it’s just about their day. Bert does the same, happily entertaining the children and indulging their childish games.

During the song, A Spoon Full of Sugar, Mary Poppins knows the children will find it boring to clean their room. Therefore she makes the job a game, singing about how doing something fun will help make the job move along quicker. Again, mentors will often do this, finding fun ways to make their mentee more engaged and occupied. Even a simple thing such as singing whilst filling in job applications can quickly improve the situation.

This leads us to, perhaps, the song with the deepest meaning; Feed the Birds. You might not notice it the first time you hear it, but the song is about charity. The old woman sitting on the steps of St. Paul’s is a charity worker, the birds are the people in need, and the small act of paying for a bag of crumbs and feeding them is a little act of kindness.

Mentoring Mr Banks

Mr Banks played by David Tomlinson. No copyright infringement is intended

Before I finish this blog, I would like to touch on one final piece of the film. That of Mr Banks. As mentioned before, Mr Banks is emotionless and void, seems to care little for his children, orders his wife around like a servant and undermines her intelligence, and believes that his view is the right view no matter what. Mr Banks is the sort of man who, when his children were born, simply handed them to the midwife and went straight back to work. He’s also a man who you cannot seeing ever having had a childhood.

Mr Banks is certainly the main character in Mary Poppins, even though it’s her name on the title. He is the one who learns the most throughout the film. If anything, he is the one who needs mentoring, not the children.

However, Bert gives a helpful insight into Mr Banks. He is a man with nobody looking out for him, meaning he must look out for himself. In mentoring terms, he doesn’t have that person who wants to help and is willing to listen. When someone does offer advise, he ignores it, continuing down his destructive path. The only advise he listens to is Bert’s, who tell him to cherish his time with Jane and Michael before they grow up and leave home.

For any mentors reading this, what advise would you give Mr Banks? How would you act around a man who pushes away every bit of help you give? Would you give him space? Would you stand your ground and be firm? Would you find out what he likes and use that to influence him?


Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins in MARY POPPINS RETURNS.
No copyright infringement is intended.

Whilst Mary Poppins is not the best film for mentoring, it teaches a lot of valuable life lessons that people across the age spectrum can learn: acts of kindness, making things fun, and the realisation that time is shorter than you think.

All mentors and mentees should watch Mary Poppins and try to spot the hidden meanings of the film. You could make comparisons to your own experience and how to use them in mentoring sessions and the future overall.

Dick Van Dyke had no dance experience whatsoever before getting the role of Bert. If he can go from that to a knockout performance, then nothing is stopping you from doing the same.



Mentees in Volunteering

40% of the young people mentored by Starting Point in 2018 have volunteered in opportunities throughout Reading.

Volunteering is a vital way we can contribute to our local community and can be found everywhere. There are many types of volunteering, such as working in charity shops or organising and manning events for the general public.

Our young people have been involved in a variety of different voluntary opportunities. These include:

  • Cafes
  • Charity Shops
  • Food Banks
  • Marketing Companies
  • Hospital Radio
  • Befriending

Starting Point has also created voluntary posts of its own, such as new roles in admin and social media.

All of the volunteering done by our mentees has helped them grow in confidence and develop skills to help them advance in their future careers. We would like to thank all of those who accepted our mentees, along with our mentors who have given them the idea to do volunteering and helped them apply and access such great opportunities!