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Exam stress; worries over what to do when leaving school; a chronic lack of confidence or family issues. None of these issues are uncommon among young people, but sometimes alternative mentoring support can be invaluable, as Kat Johnston, Adviza’s Lucky Break Mentoring Coordinator explains.

I work with 70+ volunteer mentors across the Thames Valley to support young people who may be struggling at school, finding it difficult to get into their first job or training, or who face other challenges such as lone or teen parenting.

We often deal with young people who are socially isolated - where they have effectively ‘opted out’ perhaps due to bullying, exclusion from school or bereavement. They are not engaging in education, work or social activities, and in some cases, don’t even leave the house. For some of these young people, even meeting up with a mentor once a week in a café, is a massive step forward.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a unique form of support that falls somewhere between talking to friends and family or getting professional help.

It’s all about forming a non-judgmental, supportive relationship that is not limited to a particular agenda.

A mentor is someone who can offer a different perspective, be a sounding board and make suggestions.

It’s a privileged position because a mentor enters a young person’s world and helps them make sense of difficulties, empowers them to make decisions and take actions that make their lives more effective.

Are you interested in volunteering to be a mentor? We are particularly keen to recruit volunteers across Buckinghamshire and around the Gloucester area.

Who can become a mentor?

Mentors come from all ages and backgrounds, from university students to retirees. They often work full time or have other commitments and choose mentoring as a way to give something back or to share experiences. They typically offer an hour or so each week, meeting young people in cafés, libraries or other public places.

The kind of support they offer also varies hugely. They may help to deal with confidence building, motivation, finding and applying for work, accessing positive leisure activities, decision-making around education and training options or managing money.

Mentoring can be very focussed on employability and achieving a specific goal like getting a job, or can be more holistic – being there just to listen and ask ‘How has your week been?’ And ‘How can we try and make next week better?’

As a mentoring coordinator it is my job to recruit and train mentors and to match them with young people. Matching can be based on common career or leisure interests or barriers that the mentor has overcome.

Refer young people

Young people are referred to a mentor by Adviza colleagues or other services. Referrals can be for young people who are almost work-ready, to those with multiple issues and barriers.

Do you work for an agency or in an education setting which could be referring young people for mentoring? We are particularly looking for referrals in the Oxfordshire and Reading areas.

Find out more

If you would like to know more about Lucky Break or mentoring please contact katherinejohnston@adviza.org.uk

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