What it means to mentor
Wednesday 7 December 2005
You don't have to be a policeman to show the way, or a doctor to save someone's life.
Mentoring is a form of volunteering that can look great on your CV and help you get that dream job.
A new campaign, ‘BeMe’, launched recently to raise awareness of and inspire more people to volunteer as mentors and befrienders.
National volunteering charity TimeBank, in partnership with Volunteering England and the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation, aims to let people know that anyone can mentor or befriend – all you need to do is be yourself!
The scheme is being piloted in areas where there’s a high demand for volunteer mentors and befrienders.
A mentor's story
Ele has been mentoring in Lincoln for the past two and a half years.
"I did ‘A’ level psychology and am finishing a degree in criminology. I wanted to join the police but since I’ve been mentoring I’ve decided I want to work with young offenders.
People just need a helping hand. I spend two hours a week meeting and chatting with my client. It’s just about spending time – finding common ground.
The client I mentored was of a similar age and background to me, but she grew up in a different area and around people who were dealing drugs.
Things she thought were due to her addiction, such as not getting on with her younger brother, were typical and I could relate to them and tell her that I had those problems too!
It was scary to start with but once you get to know people you realise that they just need a bit of help and guidance. My client was always late and when I finally discussed this with her I found out she didn’t understand the bus timetable – once I had written it out for her she was always on time and this extended to her probation. It’s amazing the things you take for granted.
Doing this has made me feel more fortunate – I could have been in the same situation as my client if I had been brought up in a different area.
My client has stopped offending and is going to college – it makes you feel good that you have helped them to achieve their goals.
The qualification and training gives you the confidence and people skills – you already have it but this makes you realise your potential. You’re more appreciated as a volunteer – people know you are doing it because you want to, not because you are being paid to do it.”
Filling a gap
Mentors and befrienders can help fill a gap in the life of someone who is socially isolated, perhaps because of ill health, disability or economic disadvantage.
Many people may be put off mentoring because they feel they don't have anything to offer, but mentors of all ages and experience are needed.
To find out more about mentoring and befriending go to www.beme.org.uk, call 0845 601 4008 or text BEME to 07766 40 41 42.