Mentor a care leaver
In 2014, our Friendship Works service began to apply its forty years of experience and success mentoring children to supporting young people in the care system. Young people living in care have experienced significant childhood trauma such as the effects of domestic violence, caring for family members, or managing their own mental health problems and face considerable challenges when leaving the system and entering adulthood. Whilst childhood trauma can have a negative impact on all young people later in life, the likelihood of this is even higher for young people who have been in care. They are at higher risk of becoming involved in criminal activity or drug or alcohol addiction, less likely to achieve academically and more likely to experience poor mental health in adulthood.
By matching young adults leaving the care system with a volunteer mentor and building a positive, long term friendship they are given access to support and new experiences. This helps them develop life skills and a greater sense of self worth, building the resilience needed to manage the challenges of adult life. As a result young adults gain new perspectives and are in a better position to explore training, education or employment opportunities. Find out more about becoming a mentor below, or read some of our Friendship Works stories and meet some of our volunteers.
What our volunteers do
Often the only adults a young person in care knows are paid professionals and even these relationships can be transient. When young people leave the care system, many are left to face the challenges of adulthood without family or previous carers to turn to for advice, information or support. Our volunteer mentors provide these young adults with a trusted long term relationship at a time which can often be frightening, lonely or confusing.
We need male and female adult volunteers from all walks of life to build a stable and positive long term friendship with a care leaver through weekly outings. These outings last for 3-4 hours giving mentors and mentees a chance to explore mutual interests and participate in new activities together.
As a volunteer mentor you will:
- Be a safe adult who is independent of a care leaver’s family and the “care system”
- Develop a stable friendship with a care leaver, helping to build their confidence and self esteem.
- Bring stability, security and consistency to a care leaver’s life through weekly contact for 2 years.
- Support a young adult to develop practical life skills.
- Be able to introduce a care leaver to a range of new opportunities and activities.
- Know when to provide advice and guidance, and when it’s better to just listen.
- Support a care leaver to make and take forward plans for their future training, education or employment.
- Support a care leaver’s emotional well being as a trusted adult for them to talk to about the challenges they face.
- Help a young carer develop a sense of identity and efficacy in their own life, enabling them to take greater control of their life.
- Be a positive, active and fun role model for your mentee.
Training and support
We are committed to ensuring all our volunteer mentors are provided with the support, supervision and training they need to be confident about building a safe meaningful friendship with a young adult. Our selection process for volunteer mentors allows us to ensure the safety of the children we support, but also provides an opportunity for you and us to assess whether this is the right volunteering opportunity for you.
As part of your on-going training and support you will:
- Attend a two hour information event to meet our team and hear from young people we support.
- Attend a group training and assessment weekend to build your skills and knowledge before you begin mentoring. This includes sessions on active listening, safeguarding children and how to respond to different situations you may encounter as a mentor.
- Receive training on an introduction to childhood trauma and its impact on cognitive functioning abilities and emotional responses.
- Engage in regular supervision calls with a named caseworker once you are matched with a young person.
- Have access to support, advice or guidance about your mentoring friendship whenever you need it.
- Take part in 6 monthly reviews to discuss how your friendship is developing in more depth and explore any additional support you may need.
Other volunteer opportunities with this service