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What's it like starting a new job from home?

Anna and Aksana caught up about setting up our newest mentoring projects - in Merseyside and with over 18s nationally - from home.

Aksana Khan is developing our new mentoring programme for over 18s nationally and Anna Richards is responsible for all our mentor pairs in Merseyside.

Aksana: Real talk, were you wearing tracksuits at your job interview with Arts Emergency?

Anna: I most definitely would have been wearing something much more comfortable, most likely leggings as I live in them! What has been so interesting is how the pandemic has made us all see our colleagues as real people with real lives. It causes us all to look at everyone with empathy, patience and understanding.

What were your expectations when starting the job?

Aksana: I've been freelancing for a while and when you work with young people, unless you're a teacher, you don't often get to see them "grow". Freelancing for short-term projects meant new faces all the time - and that's not always bad, it just meant that I didn't get to see what happened to the young people next. So for me, all I wanted was a kind team to work with and a lovely batch of young people to work for. I reckon I'm lucky that both expectations were met!

Have you met anyone from the team in person yet?

Anna: I haven't which is strange as it feels like I know people but I only know them virtually. One of the things I'm most excited about is meeting people one to one. I keep imagining seeing the Manchester lot over coffee and I get properly excited! What's lovely is the appreciation and gratitude we all have for that one to one connection now.

What's been your biggest challenge so far?

Aksana: The biggest challenge has been that we're still in a pannacotta. Logistically, it means that I haven't been at the Arts Emergency office and also haven't seen the team in person yet. (The only positive about that is when Carys and Korantema interviewed me for my job last summer I had a "business" top on and wore shorts!) Jokes aside, because we're still in lockdown, life is very full for everyone at the moment. It just means that I have to be patient and wait to hear back from people. I think about 10% of my job is just chasing people.

What's exciting about your batch of young people?

Anna: How much they have surprised me with their enthusiasm and motivation considering what a year they have all had to endure. It's actually inspirational to work with a generation that have fresh ideas, creativity and an abundance of resilience within themselves.

What's been your highlight so far?

Aksana: That day when we had those back-to-back Zoom stadium events where we introduced our mentees and mentors to one another. I joined the team right when we were recruiting and it was the thing that was the goal to look forward to. It was really lovely seeing how people went from being Nervous Nellies to Chatty Cathies by the end!