Finding out about mentoring
For a young person, the first they may hear about mentoring is from a teacher, care worker or another adult who knows them. They may recommend mentoring as a way to;
- feel more confident
- to feel better about school
- or to have the chance to talk about things in a non-pressured way
If the young person is accepted for mentoring, one of our professional practitioners will get in touch with their family. The practitioner will explain more about what to expect and make absolutely sure it’s something the young person and their family want.
It’s fine to say no if it doesn’t sound right just now.
They will also ask about things we need to know, like medical issues and ways to keep the young person safe. Practitioners will usually make a short home visit to introduce Mentoring Plus, ask for this information and get consents.
If volunteer mentoring goes ahead
If all goes ahead, the next thing to happen is the young person meets the practitioner, usually several times over a few weeks. It might be a visit to a local café, playing a board game or a walk in the neighbourhood. The practitioner gets to know the young person, and helps them explain for themselves how they feel and what they hope to get from mentoring.
Using this information, the practitioner will then match the young person with an adult mentor. This might be a trained and supported volunteer, or in our professional mentoring project, someone who mentors as their job. Either way, every mentor is a kind, reliable, energetic person who enjoys time spent with young people.
What mentoring can bring to you
Meeting your mentor
The practitioner will spend one or two sessions with both mentor and mentee, introducing them and helping them make plans together. Mostly mentors and mentees hit it off right away. But there’s always chance for either to say if they don’t think it’s the right match for them and another can be found.
If it is, the practitioner goes through an agreement with both mentor and mentee. It’s simple but important, including;
- when they will meet
- what they can and can’t do
- how they communicate and rules to keep everyone safe
After the initial meeting
Weekly mentoring sessions after that are just for the mentor and mentee. They will both think about the young person’s interests and suggest things they can do together. There’s a budget for things like tickets, refreshments and the mentor’s mileage.
It’s not about sitting in room and having an intense conversation – unless that’s what’s wanted. It’s about low-stress chat while doing something fun together. Pairs often cook together, play sport, do a craft activity, go for a walk somewhere, try something new like climbing, or go to a café.
The practitioner is always available to deal with any concerns. He or she will keep in regular contact with the mentor and regularly meet up with both mentor and mentee. They will chat about how it has been, notice and feed back on positive steps and plan for what they want to do next. If the mentor is worried about the young person’s safety, they will always tell the practitioner, who will help sort things out.
Most mentoring relationships last up to 12 months. As the end comes closer, the practitioner will talk about making new connections or referring for more support if that’s needed.
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