two people working togetherA volunteer mentor tells her story in her own words

'I have been working with Chloe since May 2009 and I have found my journey so far both challenging and rewarding. My mentee has had a tough childhood and has very low self esteem, self image and self confidence which i believe has led her to the predictiment she faces today.

'I met with Chloe and her family for the first time at her family home. Alice, a Children's Society worker, came along with me which is part of the mentoring process. Naturally I had a picture in my mind of what they all might be like. My first impressions couldn't be further from my pre-conceived impression.

'They lived in a lovely house; she had lovely parents who cared so much about her but somehow nine months ago there once angel like daughter had turned into the daughter from hell.

'Chloe has been expelled from school and went from being a straight A student to not even going to school and if she did go to school she was usually under the influence of alcohol or drugs. She started not going home and staying out all night without telling her parents where she was.

'It was at this point when the Children’s Society got involved with Chloe and her parents to try and help with the situation.'

Self esteem

'Some of the activities that me and Chloe do range from snow boarding, laser quest, to lunches, dinner and one to one activity work that involves self esteem building activities and of course the most important thing for Chloe, is having someone to talk to and be listened to by someone who are not her parents, social workers, counsellors and even her friends.

'Somebody who is there for her to 'off load' to about things that she may not feel comfortable speaking with her parents or family about.

'During my work with Chloe at times we have faced some difficult situations together luckily my rapport has always been very good with Chloe and her entire family. Her father will telephone me if there is a problem or if he wishes to speak to someone because he does not know where to turn to.

'I actually find this helpful because it feels like a team effort. Chloe may not always tell the truth about her progress but having the whole family involved in some areas makes my job easier. I really do believe the mentoring relationship is an effective tool in helping Chloe though this difficult period in her life.'

Beauty therapy diploma

'Five months on, the mentoring relationship has produced some positive outcomes such as Chloe now attends college doing a Beauty Therapy Diploma, she has made new friends, she is in by 10.00pm every night and has always come home.

'She spends more time at home and includes herself in family gatherings. She has stopped taking drug pills and for a period of time stopped smoking cannabis which made her look more healthy. She cares about her appearance and has direction in her life.

'She volunteers information and has conversations with her parents more about what she has done and why she did them, when she found talking with them difficult she has written them a letter to explain.

'She has started to stand up more for herself with her friends and is gaining more insight about the types of people they are and how they behave towards her.

'I believe that to be a good mentor it requires consistency, determination, boundaries, empathy, active listening, fun and laughter. The young people have to know that even when you are pushed you wont leave but at the same time staying self aware that they can manipulate situations throughout the relationship.

'I have had excellent support from my Children’s Society team, who have always been on hand to advise me if a difficult situation arises. I really enjoy my role as mentor I am even doing a level 3 diploma in youth work which I would never have thought of doing if it hadn’t been for my work as a mentor.

'What makes my experience of being a mentor enjoyable is the way the project is run, its very professional but person centred. It’s wonderful watching Chloe evolve and achieving her goals.'

You too could make a difference to a young person’s life - volunteer for The Children's Society.