Q&A with Nigel – The Island York

We are catching up with a really good friend, and over-see-er of The Island, Nigel, as we have some questions we wanted to ask about the charity, as we fully support it and want to create as much awareness to the local community as possible.

Q: Nigel – it’s just lovely to be able to speak to you about all the amazing things that are going on at The Island. For those that don’t know, or aren’t too sure about what you do – can you give us a little summary as to what The Island is, and what you do?

A:  The Island is a registered children’s charity in York providing “islands of space and time” for vulnerable children and young people between the ages of 8 to 18; building their confidence, resilience, self-esteem and unlocking potential through positive mentoring relationships and other unique programmes.  We also run youth groups for children and young people waiting to be matched (we have many children waiting for a volunteer mentor) so that they feel welcomed and supported from day one.  We have a School Based Mentoring Programme providing mentoring in Primary Schools across York.  Our Girls Groups and Boys Groups support young girls and boys through a 20 session programme that focuses on different themes each week, such as, trust, respect, body image, relationships and social media. Thanks to a very generous private donation, The Island is also able to offer a coastal getaway for our children, young people, their families and carers – allowing families to reconnect, relax and enjoy each other’s company away from their daily environment. The Island is also able to provide food distribution each week to the families of the children and young people.  I am the Manager of Mentoring Services and oversee the charity, but spend most of my time networking and importantly securing funding to run all these programmes.

Q: That’s just fantastic. We are so invested in what you do and we are so pleased that we get to work with such a phenomenal organisation. How long have you been doing this for now?

A:  The Island was formed in 2007, however, did not really start delivering these vital services until the following year in 2008.  So 11 years now.

Q: And what was it that made you start The Island in the first place?

A:  The Island was actually the idea of Bob Purrington who then worked for the Youth Services and saw there was a need for early intervention in the lives of children and young people to guide them in more positive pathways.  In 2008 there were only 2 mentoring relationships and has now grown to over 60 mentoring relationships as well as all the other services already mentioned.

Q: Have you got any stories that have really stood out for you during your time with The Island?

A:  There are so many as for each child and young person, The Island (their volunteer mentor) has made such a difference in their lives.  One young person that especially comes to mind summed up the impact on his life in these words “I’ve seen things I shouldn’t have seen and heard things a child should never hear. Thanks to The Island I’m no longer a prisoner; the chains have been broken; I can talk to my Mum now.” Another young person reflecting on their experience said “Without The Island I would definitely be ‘off the rails’, involved in crime, anti-social behaviour. . . possibly dead. Thanks to The Island my life has been transformed.  I still meet my mentor for a coffee from time to time.”

Q: Nigel – we can’t forget to mention your amazing gestures at Christmas time. For people who haven’t seen what your family tradition is – can you tell them what it is that you do?

A:  Each year at Christmas we receive many donations of toys, gifts and festive food.  So these are made into hampers and on Christmas morning together with my children we go around York delivering these to families. We then go back for lunch, hopefully a little more grateful for all we have been blessed with. Since starting this now each member of the team also deliver hampers as well which is very kind of them.

Q: Just amazing! We can see that your heart is so big and that so many people will be inspired by your words and actions more importantly. If people want to get involved with The Island Nigel, how can they do so?

A:  If anyone is interested in finding out more they can visit our website: or call us on 01904 628449.  On the website there is all the information about our programmes and volunteering opportunities and application forms.  We’d love to her from anyone who might be interested and initially might want to just talk through what is involved.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions Nigel!
If you would like to find out more about The Island, head over to:

About Lisa Bone

Design & Marketing Associate for Choc affair. I am 23 years old and live in the beautiful city that is York! I love baking and creating new recipes for the Cocoa Corner. My favourite chocolate just has to be our Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate - it's extremely more-ish - so I have to be careful if there's any about!