I trained to be a mentor in March 2015. I missed working with people and was looking for my first voluntary role when came across the opportunity at Your Own Place. The two-day training gave a great overview of what we were to expect during the mentoring process. We all left feeling excited for what was to come.
I was matched with my first young person within a month. This young person was living in a Bed & Breakfast – temporary accommodation, having been homeless. They were in a period of massive change in their life. We tried to engage with them but they had too much on and too many disruptions.
They simply were not ready. I was a little disappointed at first, questioning whether it was something I had done or I could have done more of. I quickly learned not to take it personally, timing is very important when building a good mentor relationship.
I have gone on to have two successful mentoring relationships, both totally unique experiences. The first was with a young person living independently, struggling with their mental health and in particular the isolation they were feeling. We would often just meet for a coffee and a chat.
They needed someone to talk to, and I was there – not to advise, but to listen. We also had a few practical sessions around things like budgeting and debt and I would be there to encourage them to tackle things head on and not hide away. This relationship ended when the young person moved away.
The second mentoring relationship was completely different. The young person was a single parent and needed support around the practicalities of moving into their first home.
Where would they get furniture from? How would they move their belongings? How could they afford all of these things? We did a lot of work around budgeting, sourcing affordable items and saving for them. As well as accessing support and applying for funding.
This relationship ended over a cup of tea in their new place, when they said “I think I’m okay now, I think you’ve done your job”.
It’s fantastic having a positive impact on young people, especially at a daunting and confusing period of transition. I’ve enjoyed my time as a mentor, it has increased my confidence and adaptability. I would definitely recommend it to others!