What do Mentors Do
Volunteer mentors spend an hour a week with a young person at school during the school day or an outing a week after school or on weekends out in the community. ”We casually talk while playing sport,” says one mentor when asked when about what they do during the mentoring sessions. “We don’t have time for any of that,” another mentor replies, “We talk and talk, I can’t get her to stop."
The young people we mentor are not “high-risk” but would really benefit from some extra care and attention. Mentoring sessions are a fun, relaxed time when young people and their Big Brother or Sister can hang out and build a friendship.
The programme is structured in a way that allows mentoring to begin as early as Year 1 and can continue right through until the end of high school. Mentoring relationships are most effective when they last a long time and when frequent contact is made. To be a mentor, you need to be able to offer one hour or one outing a week to see your child, for at least a 12 month period.
We are a programme that has high standards. All participants are screened before being matched, go through an Orientation Training session and are supported by a Mentoring Co-ordinator. Mentors commit to having regular accountability with our staff, and will be supported by them throughout the mentoring relationship.
Why they Bother
We’re all for having fun for fun’s sake but there is another, substantially more powerful payback. As the relationships develop we notice that something really worthwhile is started. Often quiet and unassuming in the beginning, these children begin to blossom.
Their confidence in school and at home grows, they interact more easily with their peers and they become more comfortable with who they are and what they have to give. This is not always the case but it happens often enough for us to believe that it is a worthwhile use of our time and community funds.
Alongside this, there is another pay-off. As is often the case in voluntary work, the mentors themselves get a tremendous amount from the process.
Mentoring opens your eyes to the real life struggles our young people face and the need for one-on-one attention and encouragement. For many young people, simply having a mentor turn up week after week is so important, as this provides a stable relationship which will help connect them to other people and to the community around them.