This is a verbatim account from Sally, a previous mentor with Your Own Place.
I did my mentoring training early in 2015 and was matched with a mentee in the June. I was surprisingly very nervous. Would this young person like me? Would she want to continue with the scheme or run a mile from this strange middle aged woman?!
Turns out I was really blessed. My mentee was super friendly, willing to take opportunities and chatty. It made the experience both pleasurable and positive. I am quite sure not every relationship would be like this but I quickly realised that I could in some small way help this young person.
From the little practical things – explaining why some plugs were not working in her flat. (a light had blown, tripped the circuit, and simply needed flicking back on) Simple IF you have someone to ask. My mentee had not had lights in the main living area for three days. I drove home feeling like I’d really helped and made a simple but practical difference.
It is obvious that my role wasn’t to tackle everything that was going on in this persons life but a theme developed throughout the year that I found us talking about a lot. It mainly came down to being better at time keeping and dealing with things quickly before they created other issues that were bigger.
In response to telling me she needed to visit the Job Centre due to missing a previous appointment, and on a separate occasion, looking for a work experience placement, I would look at my watch and just say ‘Well lets go and sort that now, I’ll come with you’.
Sometimes the thought of doing something, especially when it feels like it is to do with authority, seems very daunting to a young person. My mentee became anxious at the thought of going in, yet when we went together she was fabulous at communicating and getting the information she needed. I was just in the background leaving her to it. She needed a gentle push.
I would like to think my mentee looks back now and knows that by facing something quickly, however seemingly difficult it is at the time, dealing with it there and then reduces stress and helps her to move forward, and life run smoother.
I think one of the biggest achievements for both of us, (well from my perspective), was persuading my mentee to make a phone call having missed an important work opportunity.
She had been volunteering at this place for some time and was being given a chance of some paid work. It was a chance to prove herself. However she had not turned up late, but had not turned up at all.
There was a need to call the employer and apologise, own the mistake, and hopefully continue with the opportunity. If that call wasn’t made there was a high chance she wouldn’t return.
It would have been a very difficult call for anyone to make. We have all been in situations like it and I really felt her panic. Of course it took some persuading and I think had I left her to make the call later it would not have happened.
I helped her write down the opening sentences. She finally made the call while I was with her. 10 minutes and she had resolved the problem herself. Her employee was very understanding. My mentee felt immediately relieved and went back to work the following day.
The mentoring programme is only 12 months. I didn’t really understand this initially but having got to 12 months I felt it was time to wrap it up.
There is only so much talking about the importance of being on time, how to put in place strategies to make sure that happens, how to deal with things and not them off etc. We didn’t crack it during the 12 months and I am a bit disappointed about that, but I hope when the time is right my mentee will hear my voice ‘lets just get that done now’ and ‘what is the worse thing that can happen?’
It has been very rewarding for me. I have learnt things about myself during the process and understand better how difficult life can be for some people.
We don’t all start off from the same place, not everyone has family support, and although the support is there for those who need it, the process of getting that support is often complicated and very daunting.
The pleasure and privilege was all mine and I hope if the scheme keeps running I will be found another match soon.