Millions of people fundraise for BBC Children In Need each year and our Newcastle Youth Link peer mentoring is just one of the projects that benefits from their generosity.

Teenager, Harvey Oliver, is living his dream of getting paid to be a Harry Potter character thanks to a Children North East project, funded by supporters of BBC Children in Need.

The 13-year-old boy wizard, who is autistic, was struggling to develop self-confidence before one of our wonderful peer mentors, Lauren Wallace, came along.

Lauren, 18,  is one of Children North East’s Youth Link volunteers, based at the charity’s Young People’s Service on Westgate Road, Newcastle. Recently she's been taking Harvey bowling, video gaming and on cinema trips to help him widen his social circle.

The gap year student said: “It’s been a pleasure meeting up with Harvey. He was very quiet when we first met but he’s really come out of himself. Peer mentoring has helped my confidence too and taught me a lot about young people’s issues - I’m looking forward to starting paediatric nursing at Teesside University next year.”

Bringing joy to other youngsters

Harvey, an avid Harry Potter fan, has gained so much confidence he’s auditioned for the children’s entertainment company, ‘Let it Snow Productions’ – and has been immediately signed up. Now he’s bringing joy to other children and teens as Harvey Potter - Boy Wizard. So far he's starred in Stephenson Railway Museum's Wizards' Express Day in North Tyneside and at a Halloween themed event at Lintz Hall Farm in Burnopfield.

Harvey, a Year 9 student at Walbottle High School, Newcastle, who also has dyslexia, has even learned to play the Harry Potter theme tune on his keyboard as part of his GCSE music course. He said:

My Children North East peer mentor, Lauren, is really nice to talk to. She got me used to going out and I’m now more confident going places.

I like making the children happy at events and handing out chocolate to them.

Harvey’s mum, Margaret, of Chapel House, Newcastle added: “Lauren has definitely helped bring out his confidence and it’s great that he can go out and be a little bit more independent. He’s always loved Harry Potter – in fact five years ago me and his dad, Stephen took Harvey and his older sister Hannah to Ollivander’s Wand Shop at Florida’s Universal Studios and a Harry Potter wand in the shop chose him!”   

Brooke Leete of Let it Snow Productions has been amazed by Harvey’s professionalism.

“We couldn’t believe how good he was at audition. We always ask our characters to do their homework but Harvey took to the role so quickly because he had so much back knowledge of Harry Potter and even had his own wand!

The rapport he has with the kids is so amazing – he’s just a natural.

Could you be a peer mentor like Lauren?

Youth Link, Newcastle is looking for more volunteers. If you’re a young person aged between 17-25, find out more here