1 June 2018
Quarriers intandem mentoring service is part of Scotland’s mentoring programme for young people. It is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Inspiring Scotland.
Launched in November 2016 and operating within the Forth Valley area, intandem provides mentors for young people aged between 8-14 years who are looked after by their local authority but living at home. Through their portfolio of 13 partner charities, intandem matches young people with trained volunteers to build positive, trusting, supportive and secure relationships.
In October 2017, Leanne Patrick began volunteering as a mentor for a young person from Falkirk who had become isolated due to her families circumstances. Leanne, 30 and a mother of two, explains what attracted her to becoming a mentor.
I’ve always been interested in childhood and adolescent mental health, says Leanne. For a number of years I was a columnist, often writing about how to lay solid foundations for good mental health in childhood and early years development. More recently, as a mental health nursing student, I have been exploring the concept of developing resilience further down the path, and how that works practically for individuals whose foundations are not so solid. A good mentor can be a key component of building resilience and this struck me as an opportunity to make a genuine difference to the life of a young person.
There has been excellent training and support in the role and invaluable insight into what life looks like for children who are looked after, and the organisations they might be involved with.
It can be a challenge to fit it in with my work and life; I’m a student nurse, a wife and a mum, but this very quickly became a priority for me. I tend to keep a weekend morning or afternoon clear and put a lot of thought into how we can get the most out of that time together.
The role involves supporting the goals of the young person, so my focus is very much on this. I really hope that I can be a positive role model for her and that she looks back on this time as something that helped her to believe in herself and be happy with who she is.
I’ve learned a lot about myself already. I feel that I’m on a journey; I’m very much walking alongside my young person as they move toward their goals and that’s a real privilege - each day brings something new to think about and reflect upon.
I enjoy mentoring very much. I like to think that I’m a consistent and positive presence in her life and we are having a lot of fun. We’ve been to a few interesting places so far. We both like to try new things and have similar interests. At Christmas, we took a trip to a market to check out their craft stalls for ideas since we’re both quite crafty and love Christmas.
I’m enjoying getting to know my mentee and having our little adventures. I’m really happy with how things are going and each visit feels very positive.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend mentoring. I was unsure of what to expect at first, but the training really is excellent so I felt well prepared by the time it came to meeting with prospective mentees. You’re matched with someone who you connect with and whose personality gels with your own. Other than being compassionate and having time and energy to offer to someone, you don’t need to be a specific sort of person for the role. But, you do need to be prepared to make this person a priority in your life for a time. It’s not a casual role.
Wendy Woolfson, Volunteer Coordinator for Quarriers intandem, says “The mentors make a significant difference in the young people’s lives. It helps them develop more confidence, participate in their interests and have new experiences.
Many of these young people are isolated and this gives them an opportunity to get out and about, as well as build a trusting relationship with someone who cares, and wants to make a difference in a young person’s life. Our volunteers are all ages and come from a variety of backgrounds but all of them are passionate about supporting young people to be the best they can be.
In addition to training, support and supervision, we have team-building development days and regular fun days out and celebrations with the mentors and young people.
Our first matches happened in October last year and already the young people are reporting positive changes in their lives. The mentors do an amazing job.