Our London mentoring service, Friendship Works currently has 48 children in Lambeth and other London boroughs who are waiting for a mentor. To get an insight into the real challenges these children face caseworker Debbie has bought together some of the real experiences of children our mentors support, retold through the eyes of “Joshua”.
I’m 12 years old. I have a small family. I just have my mum and twin baby sisters but they’re not much fun, as all they do is sleep, eat and poo. My mum is an only child so I don’t have any cousins and my grandparents passed away when I was young. My sisters have Down’s Syndrome so my mum is always busy looking after them and we don’t get time on our own.
Dad has never really been around; I have only met him a few times. He stopped visiting me at all about 3 years ago, but used to still send a present at Christmas. Even the Christmas presents have stopped now though. I think he has a new family, but I’m not really sure. All Mum will tell me is that he wasn’t a very nice man.
“Sometimes I feel sad and like I’m always alone”
Sometimes I feel sad and like I’m always alone. I have a couple of friends at school but only see them when I’m there because Mum is worried about me playing out as she thinks my area is rough. I don’t feel like I can talk to my Mum about all the things that worry me. She already has a lot going on with my sisters and I don’t want to stress her out and make her sick again.
I’m a big sports fan. I like to keep active and P.E is my favourite subject at school. I’m not too good at the book-related subjects like English and the only French I can remember from my lessons is “bonjour”. I don’t really like reading and I don’t get why anyone would want to read a book if there’s a film out of the same thing!
I used to love going out with my key worker from a local charity, but since that and my youth club have closed down, I have nothing to do. It seems like the only streets I get to see around London are the ones that take me from my house to school and back again. Some of my favourite activities that I did with the other charity were going to the Ice Rink in Streatham, playing sports in Brockwell park, going to the arcade and seeing films at the Ritzy. I have a competitive streak so I also like to win a competition against other people, I challenge anyone to beat my top score in Connect 4 (I won 7 times in a row once!).
It would be nice to have someone to talk about the football highlights with and some of the bad stuff that stays in my mind that I don’t really talk to anyone about. Last year I had a teaching assistant that would be in some of my lessons each week. He was cool because he actually would remember things I would tell him and check in with me about the same things the next week. It was nice to know he’d be there each week. He’s gone now because he was only around for 1 year.
Some of the older boys in Year 11 have been asking me a lot of questions recently. One of them got in trouble for fighting. He says he was just sticking up for a friend, but the teachers don’t understand about these things. I’m thinking I might hang out with them more often, because they seem alright and they want to get to know me.
Sign up and find out more about mentoring with our Friendship Works service and receive your invitation to our volunteer information evening. There’s no obligation or expectation – just come along and hear more about the difference you could make in the life of a boy like Joshua.