Mentoring. An experience never to forget.
Every time someone asks me what my greatest achievement is, I always reply with the same thing, and every time someone views my CV, it’s the same item that interests them. Mentoring. In my first summer after uni, I found myself bored and not knowing what to do with myself. I was officially not a fresher any more. I wondered to myself, apart from catching up with friends from home, what should I be doing now that’s productive? The answer appeared straight in front of me one day whilst I was checking my email.
“Volunteer over the summer!” After scrolling down the emails list of opportunities, mentoring a teenager in care was the activity that took my interest. I contacted the student union rep for more information, and soon booked myself in for two training days and a CRB check. All paid for by the University of course. (Score!) The training taught me how to deal with children in care and what they might have been through in the past. It was an eye opener to say the least, and it was all I needed to confirm that I wanted and had to do this. So after playing the parts of both mentor and mentee in some role play, learning the 1-10 grading step technique, and speaking to a representative from the county council, I was ready! Or was I?
Our first meeting
I remember at first I was quite nervous after I was paired with someone with a learning disability. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. When I was taken to the care home for the first time and met my mentee and his care supervisors, I suddenly realised the seriousness of what I had put myself into. Then to my horror, whilst all the paperwork was being settled, I was left alone with my mentee! HELP! Well that’s what I thought at first. He soon told me that he enjoyed playing on the wii. The pairing had worked, I was successfully matched to someone I could get along with and mentee with no problem at all. Time passed and before I knew it, we had to end our game of bowling as the introductions and paperwork was all finished. All I had to do now was to arrange a day and time each week to meet for three hours of my time.
What did we do?
Week by week , hour by hour, time flew. I was given an £80 budget each month to take him out. Some of the activities it covered included bowling, going to the cinema, golf and taking him to his local football club to see his favourite team play. This killed me inside as I support a different team. (I refuse to wear your teams’ shirt!) Nonetheless it was worth it to see how happy and confident he had become since our first meeting. Once I took him out for sushi as he had never tried it before. I still remember the look of excitement on his face when he saw the conveyer belt with all the small dishes on. Sadly he didn’t like the sushi, but he and his supervisors were so happy that he was experiencing new things away from the care home. It was nice to see him smile after that day when he told them about how I tried wasabi. (HOT!) We all giggled.
What did we get out of it?
My mentee really enjoyed coming out of the care home and spending time with someone else. As his mentor, it was my job to guide him through those six months by talking about many things such as careers, and student life to asking simple things such as how his day at college was. My mentee was most confident opening up about these things to me during our cycling days, which we went on fortnightly to lower the budget spending. It also kept us both fit and healthy. Not only did mentoring increase his confidence, make him happier and get a better view on life. It gave us both an experience never to forget.