We could all do with a bit of a boost at the moment. Being a Mentor to a young person from a disadvantaged background has huge benefits. Here are five reasons to consider becoming a mentor right now.
1. It’s great for your wellbeing
I have just started mentoring a young person and our weekly sessions have become the highlight of my week. As our relationship develops and we both relax I am enjoying our conversations more. They feel more purposeful. Seeing my Mentee work out what she can do to bring about change is hugely rewarding. The fact that she appreciates the benefit of the time we spend together makes me feel a sense of purpose and positivity. I feel happier after our sessions.
2. It reminds you how much you know
As we get older we often take what we know for granted. We stop noticing all the knowledge we have gained through the various challenges of life. At We Rise Mentors are encouraged to share their experiences and their stories. Young people learn from hearing the difficulties you have faced and how you have tackled them. They might need help with how to organise their time, how to motivate themselves, how to work productively, how to manage relationships. These are universal challenges and you will have been through similar struggles and found strategies that work for you. Your experience is valuable. Sharing it with a young person reminds you of that.
3. It develop your skills
At We Rise we train our Mentors so they feel equipped and empowered to help young people take control of their lives. We give our Mentors a clear structure and a range of tools with a particular focus on coaching. The mentors role is to help young people develop the tools and skills they will need in life. We ask powerful questions and share helpful frameworks so they can learn to use these techniques in the future. I am using coaching tools to help my Mentee move towards her goals. I am developing my listening skills and asking open questions to help her identify possibilities and ways forward. I am sharing useful frameworks, like Maslo’s hierarchy of needs, to help her identify where she needs to take action. As a Mentor you will will develop and improve skills that are useful in other parts of your life.
4. It gives you a new perspective
Connecting with someone who has a completely different life experience opens up a new world. You will get a window into the daily experiences of your Mentee. Some will be familiar. For example many of the teenage stresses about family, friendships and schoolwork are pretty universal. Some will be different. For example, the role that technology and social media plays in the lives of young people today. Or the daily challenges and struggles many young people face in their home lives, with the additional stresses brought by Lockdown. For example, my Mentee has significant caring responsibilities and has to juggle a lot of demands on her time. You can give your Mentee perspective by helping them see which experiences are universal and when they are facing particular difficulties. You will see your own life with a different perspective.
5. It creates space for you to reflect on yourself
Having a time set aside to focus on guiding someone through the challenges of their life is helping me reflect and identify where I might need to do some work on my life. The process of talking through frameworks like Maslo is reminding me to look after myself and my needs. For example, last week we discussed self esteem and where it comes from. I reflected on things I might do to boost my own sense of personal purpose and achievement. Each session is teaching me something or reminding me about something I have not been paying attention to. It is helping me reflect on how I also need to continue to develop and grow.
Our Mentors are not experts. They do not hand down advice from on high and tell a young person what they should do. Rather they are supportive, guiding adults – people with experience of working life who will admit they are still finding their way and are willing to give a young person the benefit of their time, their attention and their care.
In the end that is all that young people need from us.
We Rise has developed a mentoring programme for professionals from a range of different careers to support ambitious young people aged 15-19 from disadvantaged backgrounds. We offer corporate partnerships and opportunities for individuals to mentor with us.
Click here to find out more.