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On this weeks show we look at the lessons learned in the third sector mentoring and coaching young people can be transferred directly into the workplace. Karol Thornton from Yorkshire Mentoring and Youth In Mind tells us all about it.

About Karol Thornton

Karol Thornton from Leeds joins The Next 100 Days Podcast. Karol, pronounced Karl, has a background of working with young people. In the early 90s, he was drawn into social injustice and disaffected youth. The DNA that goes through all his work is social justice.

He supports and works with children adolescents who are currently on the mental health spectrum, where Karol got to know Graham. This is a mentoring project that Karol (and Graham) is working on.

Karol Thornton joins The Next 100 Days Podcast to talk about social enterprise, coaching and mentoring young people

Karol Thornton joins The Next 100 Days Podcast to talk about social enterprise, coaching and mentoring young people

It’s about giving back.

Karol started out by getting involved in local youth work in the city of Leeds in Yorkshire, England. This giving back, especially to young people has always been a feature of Karol’s work.

Additionally, Karol Thornton teaches across the region. This also tends to be in the social sciences. Karol is proud of his work with the Workers Educational Association WEA working with UNISON members around their individual CPD, Continuing Professional Development ( In England and Wales, they have WEA regions which is all about adult learning.

Karol also set up an organisation, called Yorkshire Mentoring. This is all about mentoring young people and adults alike. They use a lot of coaching techniques. It is a community interest company.

Karol is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. Karol, is a facilitator, trainer, coach and mentor. This sees Karol facilitate a leadership training session for a college, or with a young mum who wants to get involved in volunteering. He then turns his hand to marketing to encourage more people to get involved.

Graham says Karol is such an enthusiastic trainer. Getting involved in these social projects, means you must start thinking about areas that are maybe unusual for the entrepreneur. How and where you meet young people. Safeguarding them and yourself. Reducing the opportunity for things going wrong. Making sure that the young person’s Mum and Dad know you, know that you have had a DBS check and that you are credible.

Youth In Mind

The mentoring project where Karol and Graham met is called Youth in Mind. The aim of the project is to offer young people in the Bradford district who are currently on the mental health waiting list, someone from within the community to be a mentor for them. They themselves might not have the skills, and the mentor is all about inspiring the young person to find new ways forward. They may not have these skills in their own families, for whatever reason. They may come from some very challenging backgrounds.

It’s not about bailing out the NHS etc. It is about helping a person. In the training Graham was involved in, Karol brought in a Youth Worker who suggested the young people we might be asked to mentor could be suffering from ‘low mood’. Means, being sad, depressed. So, the mentor is charged with helping the young person to see other opportunities for getting themselves out of this fug, possibly prior to their treatment starting even.

Who has inspired you as a mentor?

Who has been in your life and made that impact for you? Karol Thornton says it is a ‘growth mind-set’. In some families, there can be an attitude that they cannot do this. It is not something available for them. The growth mind-set says I will learn HOW to do this. So, if a young person has had people around them that tells them they are NOT good at this, it is hardly surprising that the young person does not immediately think, no, I can be good at this.

Introducing the role of the mentor. What skills are they missing? What skills do they need to realise the goal? That’s the job.


If a person is living in an environment where you are not cajoled, you are not actively encouraged, you are not inspired, that can lead to ‘low mood’. Mentoring is about enabling, it is about empowering, it is about actively encouraging, listening and coming at this from a strengths-based approach.

Strengths-based approach?

What is it that really puts a smile on the young person’s face? Using that to move forward in their life.

This is an initiative, the mentoring programme, that could be rolled out across the country. Allowing and facilitating young people and adults to grow through the medium of mentoring. Space, attention, equality, appreciation and attention. Where they can express their feelings. These are all the components of the thinking environment.

Karol Thornton mentioned Nancy Kline

Thinking Environment

It is about giving people, as the book suggests, time to think. Giving people QUALITY TIME.

There are 10 components of the thinking environment.

  1. Attention – this about being present.
  2. Incisive questions – removing assumptions that we might have about people’s capabilities.
  3. Equality – equal turns, making sure it has boundaries.
  4. Appreciation – ensuring there is at least 5 to 1 appreciation versus criticism. It is about being affirmative and positive.
  5. Ease – ensuring people aren’t rushed, they have freedom and time to express themselves and to be heard.
  6. Encouragement – moving beyond any form of competition.
  7. Feelings – allowing space to release feelings.
  8. Information – ensuring that individuals concerned have got the full picture, the full reality in front of them.
  9. Place – environment, ensuring that the person matters. A space to be listened to, to be heard.
  10. Diversity – around recognising people have different experiences and identities that people bring to the table. Embracing out hidden identities, which could include your faith.

If you have staff, would you change any? No. These are about quality conversations. Use these principles in your mentoring.

Restorative Practice

Restorative Practice – restorative justice, where a victim and a wrongdoer meet and the victim has a voice about what has happened. Above all we want to know WHY ME? These questions are not often answered. So, with RP, we can answer those questions and the feelings that were experienced at that time. In RP, you ask questions to reveal the impact and gradually move to a place where you can get beyond the wrong. RP helps victims come to terms with the wrong.

These things are important. Ask the questions in a mindful way. You must avoid the accusatory language like “Why have you done it?”. If you reframe the language, by asking the wrongdoer “Can you tell us what has happened?” Allowing space to get the wrongdoers perspective. That is important when we want to move on. So, RP allows these feelings to be explored.

The Workplace.

Create a space where you can hear different people’s perspective. Whilst I disagree with your actions, I can understand. This is all about giving people quality attention. Give people the ability the opportunity to learn from each other so they can productively move forward.

Restorative Language – couples with active listening. Use questions like: So, what happened? Tell me more? Is there anything else you would like to add? Who do you feel has been affected? In what way have they been affected? How do you feel now about it? What would you like to see happen in the future?

They can be incisive these questions.

Remember, this is behaviour. It’s about pro-social modelling. Do you want them to behave well in society?

Karol is pushing the boundaries of business in this show. This is very helpful. Karol, brought up the thinking pairs tool, also from the Nancy Kline book, Time to Think.

Thinking Pairs

Pose a deep question to pairs of people. In your organisation, what are our biggest challenges right now? Work in pairs. Two senior leaders for example. They then have 5 minutes unrivalled time, in which time they will be able to explore this question. They will not be interrupted.

You put a timer on. The neuro-science part of this is after about a minute or two, the deep thinking arises. All too often you can get the deeper thinking. 3 or 5 minutes. Then rotate. Your colleague does the same thing. Then you get time together to debrief, to enable you to move on.

In the pair, the listener does not contribute when the thinker/speaker is speaking. There are no leading questions. Uninterrupted time. After a couple of minutes, you might say, is there anything else you would like to add.

You can see how applicable this is to business.

This is all about relationships and facilitating dialogue. As Karol works in the 3rd sector and the public sector, we have noticed a passive dialogue. In-offensive.

Robert Cialdini’s Pre-suasion – health organisation that didn’t use harmful words like bullet points. They didn’t want language that runs counter to their core philosophy of doing no harm. So, bullet points became information points. Clever.

It’s NOT “Drive by Training”

Karol Thornton does Skype calls, video Zoom calls, resources. He follows up and takes people to task. So, people can show Karol how the training has taken hold.

Another great way to become familiar with groups.

The Complete Book of Questions – Gary Poole


  • What is something you’ve won and how did you win it?
  • What is something your parents used to say to you as a child, that you promised yourself that you’d never say, but now you catch yourself saying it all the time?
  • What’s your favourite summer and winter sports?
  • What are the best and worst sounds in the world?

This helps you find out about people’s hidden identities (like the body-builder and trained bricklayer ladies in the training cohort that Graham was part of). You note a lot of superficial stuff when you meet people, skin colour, height, weight, wear glasses etc. But you only find their hidden identities with dialogue. It is what connects us.

  • If you could talk with only one person for the rest of your life who would you pick?

How can people get in touch?

Twitter:                 Karol Thornton   @karlosjnr

LinkedIn:               Karol Thornton



The Next 100 Days Podcast is brought to you by Graham Arrowsmith and Kevin Appleby