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Making a Difference: Volunteering as a Mentor for Care-Experienced Young People

Volunteering as a mentor for care-experienced young people can be one of the most rewarding and challenging endeavours one can undertake. Emma, Richard, and Sheila, all dedicated mentors with Pure Insight, share their journeys and insights, providing a glimpse into the profound impact such mentorship can have, not only on the young people but also on the mentors themselves.


Sheila's Story: Awaiting Her Match

Shelia Volunteer

Sheila has recently completed her training with Pure Insight and is eagerly awaiting her match. Her decision to volunteer stemmed from a personal quest to live and work with purpose. Her early volunteering experience includes working with an NGO in Nepal at a refuge for women who had been trafficked, which sparked her passion for making a difference.


Sheila believes that the most rewarding part of mentoring will be the opportunity to be a constant, caring presence in a young person's life at a crucial time. "I hope to help that young person lead a more fulfilling life today, tomorrow, and far into the future," she shares.


Throughout her training, Sheila has learned a great deal about herself and her journey in life. "The training focuses on taking reflective steps to understand where we are as individuals and how our experiences shape us. This self-awareness is crucial in being a constant support for someone else," Sheila explains.


Emma's Journey: One Year of Transformative Volunteering

Emma Volunteer

Emma has been involved with Pure Insight for about a year, having completed her training in March and officially matched with a young person for one month. Her initial involvement through social booths and the Crewe café paved the way for a deeper commitment.


"I became involved with Pure Insight through my paid work and loved the culture and ethos of the organization," Emma shares. "Everyone I came across was so supportive and encouraging, and I wanted to be a part of that. Providing direct support to young people felt like the right match."


Emma highlights both the rewards and challenges of mentoring. "Knowing that you are having a direct impact on the lives of the young people we support is incredibly rewarding. Seeing a young person grow in confidence and initiate conversations is amazing. However, maintaining boundaries is something I have to be very mindful of. It’s a constant balancing act."


Her advice to potential mentors is encouraging yet practical. "Definitely give it a go. Attend the training and social events before making a full commitment. Ensure you can commit the time over the two years, and once you know that's possible, there's nothing stopping you."


Through her experiences, Emma has learned invaluable lessons. "The young people are incredibly honest, which is refreshing and teaches you a lot about yourself. I've learned about the value and impact of positive relationships and the power of kindness. I definitely get back far more than I give and have made some new friends along the way."


Richard's Perspective: Four Years of Dedication

Richard Volunteer

Richard has been a mentor with Pure Insight for about four years. His motivation stemmed from a desire to break the cycle of disadvantage experienced by many children in the care system.

"I was conscious of the cycle of disadvantaged children becoming disadvantaged adults," Richard explains. "Pure Insight aimed to break this cycle by providing support and help to these young people."


For Richard, the rewards of mentoring are often found in the small victories. "The most rewarding moments tend to be small things, like when you feel you have made a difference in how a young person views something or when they learn a new skill. Seeing them smile more than when you first met them is incredibly fulfilling."


However, Richard also acknowledges the challenges. "Many young people come with complicated issues, and it can be frustrating to feel like you’re not helping enough. My current young person is a refugee, and the education system doesn’t always accommodate their needs."


Richard advises potential mentors to approach the role with open eyes and a commitment to long-term involvement. "You don’t want to be another person who enters their life only to leave them high and dry. Celebrate the positive influence you have, no matter how small. The support from volunteer coordinators is crucial in providing encouragement when you feel less effective."


Through his mentoring, Richard has gained a deeper understanding of his own privileged position in society. "A whole slice of society is disadvantaged from birth, and it's unfair. I hope that the small amount I can do will continue to make a positive impact on the lives of one or two people."


Reflecting on the impact of volunteering, Richard notes, "My wife says I am a nicer person now. I think she means I am more caring and much less judgmental."


Conclusion: The Transformative Power of Mentoring


Both Emma and Richard's experiences underscore the transformative power of mentoring, and Sheila's anticipation reflects the eagerness to make a difference. The journey is filled with challenges, but the rewards far outweigh them. By providing direct support, mentors can help young people grow in confidence, learn new skills, and break the cycle of disadvantage. In turn, mentors gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world, making them more compassionate and less judgmental individuals.


Anyone considering becoming a mentor... take the leap. Attend the training, get involved in social events, and commit to making a difference. The impact you have on a young person's life, and the growth you experience as a mentor, can be profound and lasting. Just as Sheila, Emma, and Richard have found, you may discover that you get back far more than you give.

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