Routes’ mentoring programme connects professional women from a range of sectors and industries with women from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds for 4-months of 1:1 mentoring.

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1. We pair professional women with refugee & asylum seeking women.

Mentors apply to join the programme, either sponsored by their employer or on a self-funded basis. Every mentor is matched with a mentee based on four factors: location, age, skill set, personal interests.

When mentees are referred to the programme, they choose one of four areas to focus on with their mentor: employment, volunteering, education or new skills. This is used to help in the matching process.

2. We train our mentors in communication & leadership skills.

All mentors receive 10 hours of high quality training, across one full day and an evening. They then have the chance to put their new skills directly into practice across ten meetings with their mentees. Continuous learning and reflection is supported throughout the programme by the Routes team.

Read more about the training and development sides of the programme here.

3. We deliver real impact for both mentors and mentees.

This is a programme with tangible mutual benefit: mentees are supported to work on their goals, whilst mentors grow and develop as purposeful leaders and communicators.

Previously, mentees have been supported to find jobs/volunteering opportunities, apply to university/college, launch their own businesses, develop digital/language skills and much more…

A wholly unique and rewarding experience. I’ve felt supported, challenged and inspired. I learned as much in ten weeks as I have from years of training and professional mentoring.
— Mylinh Cao, Head of Creative Content, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Past mentors have joined us from organisations including…


Routes was an eye-opening experience for me. 10 weeks with my mentee taught me a lot about the political environment we live in, situations women face across the world, and the bureaucracy surrounding immigration. However, it also taught me about finding joy in little things, the importance of friends wherever you are in the world, and the healing properties of music and laughter.
— Doniya Soni, Principal Policy Officer, Greater London Authority

Our mentoring programme is built around three core insights:

1. Businesses must invest more in their female leaders.

Only 22% of senior roles in UK businesses are held by women. Five years after graduation the gender gap widens, as 14% more men than women enter middle management for the first time.

2. Being a mentor is a proven to help women develop leadership and communication skills…

…as well as patience, compassion and self-confidence, all qualities of great leaders.

3. A third of those seeking asylum in Britain are women.

Asylum seekers receive £35 a week and do not have the right to work, leaving many isolated. Once refugee status is granted, waiting lists for English classes can be up to two years, and once a place is offered it is not guaranteed that childcare will be provided. Starting a new life when your English is poor, your confidence is low and you have no connections or networks is incredibly challenging.

Applications for our upcoming programme (October 2019 to February 2020) open on 5th August. Register your interest below.

Being a Routes mentor was incredibly rewarding. Yes, it was challenging at times and you need to be patient and flexible but if you are, you will get as much out of it as the person you’re supporting.
— Michelle Isme, Freelance Service Designer