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.