Lots of young people in the UK don’t have access to the support they need during school, college, and beyond. But by volunteering your time as a mentor, you could have a really positive impact on the lives of young people in your community. Just read on to find out how you can get involved.
What is mentoring?
Mentoring is about providing one-to-one support to a young person. Whatever it is they’re dealing with, from schoolwork to behavioural problems, from confidence issues to making decisions about their future, you’ll be there to help them every step of the way.
A big part of this is helping them make their own decisions about things like employment. In this case, it’s less about writing their CV for them, and more about helping them make positive steps towards getting a job by themselves. For example, by setting goals and targets together, and pointing them towards organisations that can offer extra support and training.
Different charities support mentees of different ages and backgrounds. So once you’ve decided to become a mentor, it’s good to think about who you can help out most. That way you can be matched with someone whose life could really benefit from your guidance.
What skills do I need to become a mentor?
Being a good mentor is all about reliability and communication. As long as you’re a good listener, can offer tailored advice, and will turn up on time to appointments, you could really add value to a young person’s life.
A background in education is also handy, but very few mentoring schemes ask for this. So it’s worth applying whatever your skill set.
How much commitment does becoming a mentor require?
The first step is getting yourself DBS checked, which is an essential part of working with any young person. After that, you should be aiming to commit at least an hour a week to meeting your mentee, for at least a year after signing up. Dropping out before then could cause unnecessary disruption in your mentee’s life, so if you’re planning to move away from the local area soon, this might not be the role for you.
That said, don’t be intimidated by committing long-term. All you need to find is an hour a week – which is doable even if you work full time. Just check out all the examples on The Hub if you need reassuring.
How can I get involved in mentoring in my community?
There are a number of charities and organisations around the UK that match mentors with young people. The Prince’s Trust have bases all round the country, and help young people who are making the transition from full-time education to employment, higher education, or apprenticeships and training.
Other organisations such as Reach Out work with younger children, helping them progress through their school years and beyond.
If you’re keen to get started, have a look online to see if there are any community mentoring projects near you that you can get involved in.