I became a volunteer mentor at The Hive, Wirral Youth Zone because I wanted to be a positive influence for young people. I didn’t have a mentor when I was younger, I left school and went straight into a job. I think that having someone to speak to would have helped me feel more confident and secure in myself.
I’d say that a mentor is there to give positive support to their mentee, to help them be as independent as possible and to get more confident – our end goal is for them to grow out of the need for support.
My mentee was Jasmine. When we first met, I made her giggle, which I think was a good start. We both came from similar backgrounds, and we hit it off. She was quite shy and didn’t speak a lot. We started out by doing activities like cooking and going for walks, taking the opportunity to build our relationship. It was important at the start to turn up for her and to build that trust.
As the sessions went on Jasmine would start to share a little about problems that she had, I’d listen and help out. Each week I’d see her coming out of her shell, talking more about what she wanted to do in the future, about working on her CV and applying for jobs. I can’t believe how far she has come.
Jasmine’s more confident, she can speak to anyone now and has a good bunch of friends. She’ll be going to university, which is so powerful, she has a brighter outlook on life knowing there’s a positive future ahead of her. She wanted a different life for herself and worked hard for everything she’s achieved.
The moment I really saw the difference mentoring had made to Jasmine’s life was when I watched a video of her talking about her experiences. All the work we’d done had led to that moment. That video and being invited to speak at an event in London about her journey on behalf of OnSide and The Hive was such an achievement for Jasmine. Every now and then I check in to see how she’s doing; she’s out there smashing life and I’m really made up about it.
Being a volunteer mentor is such a rewarding thing to do. All it takes is one person, Jasmine’s proof of that. It’s also helped me grow as a person. A year and a half ago I would never have applied to be a mentor, it’s taken me on a massive journey. It has changed my life around. I was worrying about where I was going – being a mentor inspired me to change careers and now I’m doing something very rewarding and studying to work in youth work. I sleep better at night knowing that what I’m doing is helping someone.
To anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer mentor I’d tell you to do it, share your experiences and help young people. Don’t be scared, you’ll achieve so much from doing it. There are lots of young people that need support, go out and help them.
“When I met Gina for the first time, and she was lovely and so confident and bubbly. When I actually got to know her, I was really happy because she was someone who brought me out of my shell. Each week I got more confident and less anxious, and it was just great knowing a lot more about myself. I think I was so scared of failure, but they made me realise failure’s ok too.
When I applied for Uni, I struggled a lot with my personal statement. The Hive got someone to look over it for me to make sure it was good. It went really well because I got into the places I wanted to get into, and it was just really good to have Gina and the Hive there to help me, and I do think I wouldn’t be confident and as happy as I am today without them. Thank you to The Hive and Gina for helping me see that the future is something that shouldn’t be feared. It should be something that’s embraced, and it should be a positive experience, not a negative one.”