Abbie – Being a Mentor

I joined Lincolnshire Action Trust as a volunteer mentor over 12 months ago, and so far, I have supported 5 mentees.

The role of a mentor can be very rewarding when you can witness your mentees positively responding to your inputs.

One mentee for example was extremely guarded on our first one to one meeting: driven I believe by his background of being shouted at and not taken seriously by his family. By the end of that first meeting my mentee was physically drained. What he anticipated as a “grilling” was nothing of the sort: the exact opposite in fact. Our second meeting was far more relaxed and, as a result ,we had several sessions which we both enjoyed and this mentee was taking on his new responsibilities of becoming a father very seriously.

With another mentee, an ex drug user, he was still affected by his medication but, nevertheless, he showed great promise in striving towards a goal where he became free of his drug use and was in employment. With this particular person we worked together to produce an 18 month Action Plan in the form of a spreadsheet. Sadly, the mentee had to deal with some shattering personal family issues and, as a result, he backed out of mentoring.

My current mentee is a young man who has ASD [Autistic Spectrum Disorder]. So far we have had 4 meetings and, without doubt , he is my biggest challenge so far. To help me understand his position I attended a training course on Autism. This proved to be invaluable and has helped me to understand him and what he has to contend with in his daily life. I envisage I may be mentoring him for the duration of his sentence.

I thoroughly enjoy being a mentor. I like a challenge. Each mentee is different; has specific needs and these need to be recognised so that a positive outcome can be generated.

There have been some disappointments along the way where, for example a mentee has suddenly decided to drop out of support with no explanation. In my short experience this is not unusual with mentoring, and we should not be offended if someone unexpectantly decides to opt out.

I can only speak for myself but, for me the key attributes of a mentor are:

Although mentoring is an informal support arrangement, there needs to be a sense of purpose behind them in order to achieve positive outcomes.