It’s good to talk. And as a charity that every week is bringing together people needing support with volunteers wanting to offer it, we are helping to start many conversations.
But mentoring is not just about talking. Our mentoring team – volunteers and staff – often give very practical help, too.
Stuart – not his real name – is an example of someone who wasn’t too keen on talking the first few times when he met mentoring co-ordinator Cathy Leamon.
Long-term unemployed and without a home of his own for years, he was finally on the point of getting a toehold on a more stable life with the offer of housing association accommodation. The days of sofa hopping or living in a tent were at an end. In the past, he had been involved in petty crime but he seemed to have put that behind him too. Perhaps he didn’t want or need our help.
But it was to Cathy he turned the day he went to pick up the key to his new home and a discrepancy between two pieces of information threatened to derail the process. The timing, just a couple of days before Christmas, added urgency and poignancy to the situation.
Awkward when dealing with other people, Stuart had simply become angry and agitated and the housing staff felt intimidated.
Cathy dropped everything to go and act as an unofficial negotiator. She managed to defuse the situation and Stuart got the key to his new front door.
On New Year’s Eve, one of Cathy’s team of volunteers helped Stuart with his online application for housing benefit. He had never used a computer before.
Since then the volunteer has helped him to budget more effectively, to apply for a provisional driver’s licence so he has photo identification to smooth his dealings with officialdom, and persuaded him to try an employability skills course.
They have also been doing a lot of talking.
- Our mentoring work is with vulnerable young people and adults who value the support of someone independent to help them in making positive changes. Call Gemma Seldon on 01483 426990 or 07771 961619 to find out more about this service and where we are working.
*Names have been changed