I have been mentoring with Starting Point Aspire for about a year now and I consider it a privilege to be involved with a young person’s life. My experience so far has given me a great boost knowing I have helped a young man feel better about himself.
Mentoring a young person has opened my eyes to the stresses and challenges young people today face on a daily basis. Mentoring has given me a focus and kept me thinking about how I can help in widening the options for my mentee which has involved a lot of research concerning anxiety and eating disorders. Mentoring a young person encourages you to challenge your own perceptions and ideas.
So far I have helped him overcome some emotional and practical issues. We have met up safely during the pandemic and had long walks in the cold eating sausage rolls! During this time we have discussed all sorts of issues including education, relationships, eating disorders, anxieties, the benefit system and VARS use in the Premier League! We respect each other’s views and standpoints but know we can challenge each other’s ideas and football team choices! We have built a good relationship and whilst we don’t always agree we both know that ultimately we can discuss and think about the options and which is the best course of action.
I have seen him grow over the year and it gives me a great deal of pleasure to see the now confident young man he has become. He now has the confidence to apply for jobs and benefits. He is still not the best at accepting ideas, like staying in education next year, but he is aware that it is his decision in the end and only he can make it.
I truly believe that in giving a little time to a young person you both grow and become the best people you can be!
Anyone considering mentoring should apply – mentoring has an enormous effect on the mentee but also gives you an increased feeling of self worth, immense satisfaction and keeps you young! Young people look at the world differently and this is refreshing. I am really happy that I decided to volunteer with Starting Point.
When asked to put a few thoughts together around why I became a mentor, a number of ideas came to mind that I would like to share. Having brought up three children as a single parent, two of whom are now at university and one will start A levels in September, I believed that the skills I had developed with my own children would be transferable in supporting others. In a world that is often harsh and challenging, there are environments where support and guidance are freely given. I believe that the education system, although it is far from perfect, is one of them and despite the struggles that many young people encounter whilst at school, I firmly believe that staying engaged in the education system in some way if possible is a good course of action. Holding on to this belief, I was delighted after a bit of googling to discover Starting Point, a Reading based charity who offer a number of different mentoring schemes. The Advance programme jumped out at me, as the focus here is so aligned to my personal beliefs in supporting young people from aged 11-19 to see the benefits of remaining in education.
I then had to summon up the courage to reach out and offer my support. All the usual self-doubt crept in, why did I think I would be any good at this, how would I be able to help? So I quietened the voices and made the call and goodness I am so glad that I did. After a couple of warm and reassuring phone calls, I found myself signed up for the compulsory training sessions. The journey had begun! The sessions were informative and thorough and then I was ready to go. There is great emphasis put on matching the mentee and mentor and it was a while from when I completed my training to being matched with my mentee.
I was so happy when I received the call to say that Starting Point would like to introduce me to a young person, but equally filled with self-doubt whether I would have anything to offer. But taking things a step at a time, we were invited to meet and have a chat and that is exactly what we did. I warmed to my young person immediately and was interested by what they chose to share with me on that first meeting. It is up to the young person to decide whether they continue and after a few anxious days I received the green light. We meet each week and I look forward to our time together. A lot of the time I listen because I realise that my role isn’t really to fix anything, it is just to be there and support the young person on their journey. Everybody is different and each week is different. My young person is now signed up for a college course for September, is actively looking for part time work and talking about starting driving lessons. I am so proud of them feeling the fear but doing it anyway and can see what a wonderful future they have in store. Just taking one step at a time and giving things a go. Some of it will work and some of it may not, however if we don’t have the courage to try we will never know. A bit like me needing to take a leap of faith into my mentoring journey.
I have been volunteering as a mentor with Starting Point since the beginning of 2021 and being part of the Advance Mentoring team has been a really great experience so far. The Advance team mentor young people aged 11-19 years to help them with staying in education or deciding what to do once school is finished.
Mentoring young people is challenging but also incredibly rewarding. I support my young person through regular catch up sessions and we have spent a lot of time chatting away and getting to know each other. Watching her develop and grow in confidence has been wonderful and makes each week even more enjoyable. As our relationship grows we have been able to make plans towards the future and figure out what ambitions and goals she wants to set for herself. Discussing college routes, work experience opportunities and possible career paths helps increase her motivation and keeps her focused. I feel really proud watching my young person get excited about the future and developing a positive outlook on what adulthood may bring.
The support I have received on the Advance team is great and there are plenty of resources to help plan out sessions with my young person. I also feel mentoring has been a valuable experience for my own personal development and has also helped me to build my own confidence. There is a huge sense of achievement seeing your young person develop their social skills and boost their self esteem!