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Shining a light on Volunteer Mentoring

Shining a light on Volunteer Mentoring

Our Volunteer Mentors share their experience

We know that 1-2 hours a week with a Volunteer Mentor can be life changing for a young person having a tough time. Having the undivided attention of a kind, empathetic adult who has chosen to spend time with them can make all the difference to a young person’s happiness and well-being. 

But what is it like to be a Volunteer Mentor? What’s involved? How does it impact our volunteers?

In this interview, one of our lovely Volunteer Mentors shines a light on their experience.

Why did you become a Volunteer Mentor?

I met someone from Mentoring Plus during a fundraising event, and they told me about what they did and I remember thinking that the charity sounded amazing, and that mentoring is an incredible way to be involved and actually have a direct impact. Often you can give your time and not quite know how you’re making a difference. 

What was it like getting started with Mentoring Plus?

I went to the training and it was brilliant. I felt supported, clear about what I would be doing, and assured that if things were ever difficult the team would be there for me every step of the way. I also loved meeting other mentors, everyone was really nice and from all walks of life. There was no perfect mentor. We were all just people who wanted to help in some way. 

What was it like being matched?

After the training, I had an informal interview to check I was ready to mentor, and a month later I was matched with my mentee, who was 11 years old. We met in a cafe with his Mentoring Plus Practitioner, and we spent an hour chatting, playing board games, just getting to know each other a little bit. He told me about what he'd like to get out of mentoring and the sort of things he'd like to do. Thankfully, we hit it off and we went from there.

Did you encounter any challenges along the way?

I did need help after a couple of months because suddenly he wasn’t chatting like he normally would and didn’t want to come out to sessions. I didn’t know what had happened, but with support from his Practitioner, we were able to navigate our way through it. We took a break for a few weeks, and then we had a session with his Practitioner to talk about how we could move forward

Thankfully, things clicked back into place again, and in fact, it felt like our connection was even stronger than before. He told me he didn’t really trust adults and that was hard to hear. But this made it a bit more special that we were able to reconnect. 

What did your Mentoring sessions involve?

When we started we went through his top 10 things that he'd like to do. He had written a list with his Practitioner, and Monopoly featured twice! We did all sorts of things together, but sometimes we didn't do a lot, we'd just grab a sausage roll and sit by the river and have a chat.

For me, being a Volunteer Mentor, is about being a consistent positive role model, someone who is kind and sees the best in the young person. I don't think it's more complicated than that. 

What surprised you about Volunteer Mentoring?

What surprised me is that this experience can be heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I was blown away by how amazing he was. He really was a lovely little boy, and I tried to compliment him and recognise how special he was whenever I could. When I did, I would see him visibly kind of stand taller and look happier, and that was really rewarding. But it did make me feel quite sad as well, because a small compliment seemed to mean a lot. 

What is it like coming to the end of your year together? 

We’re encouraged to talk about the end of mentoring and to arrange special activities. One of the things we’ve been doing is making a scrapbook to capture our time together. We’ve taken photos and he’s written comments. 

I was looking at the scrapbook with his Practitioner and we noticed that he's got a bigger smile at the end of the year. I know that I'm just one of a number of people supporting him, but it's really lovely to see that it’s been a good journey for him. 

What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a Volunteer Mentor?

I would really strongly encourage them to do it. I think the commitment is not so much that it'll take over your life, but it's enough time to build up a relationship and really connect.

It's really enjoyable. It's special. Mentoring Plus is just an amazing charity and there are no negatives of being a Volunteer Mentor.

Volunteer with us! 

We are recruiting kind and empathetic adults to join us and become Volunteer Mentors.

To find out more / apply, please:

Visit: Become a Mentor

Contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Chris Hart: 

01225 429 694 

About the author

Mentoring Plus