I signed up as a volunteer mentor for Your Own Place in 2015 because I wanted a new challenge and to expand my skills in working with people. I was nervous about volunteering with young people as my experience has always been in working with older people but I needn’t have worried as it has been a really good experience.
My Your Own Place experience began with a two-day training with a friendly bunch of new volunteers of all different ages and backgrounds. It was a very interactive few days. We covered budgeting (more interesting than you’d think!), shared experiences, and tried to pin down exactly what the mentor role was and importantly what it is not.
The work I do as a volunteer mentor has been great. I have been lucky enough to meet and work with two great mentees.
Although there have been difficulties and challenges, Your Own Place has always been on hand to talk me through them. Seeing the people I have been matched with make positive life decisions and grow in confidence has been the best bit.
Being alongside when a mentee takes control of their life and starts making their own important phone calls, making positive life decisions, showing their ability to manage their finances independently and getting their new home looking like a home makes it more than worthwhile.
Through it I have learnt a lot about the complexities of the benefit system – argh!
But on a serious note I have begun to be able to structure meetings with mentees with a clearer sense of what they want to achieve and what is needed.
It’s a continual learning process but at the end of the day it is about getting to know someone, and matching them with appropriate support.
My experience shows that mentee and mentor both benefit and learn from taking part.